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Design Crew

Got a problem? Need some help? Just standing there shaking your head? Don't know what to do? You're not alone. Send us a link to photos of your design quandary and let the Desire to Inspire design crew help you .... that's you lot ... the readers! This week's problem comes from Mish, a woman of few words who feels the need for change.

Hi love your blog.  Can I send u some pics of my home? Am so bored with it. Hate try hard or suburban. Love modern. Can u and your readers help with an upgrade. It has good bones. Due for a change need some inspiration. Want to throw a bit of money at it.

I've bought a voucher for a glass picture and I don't know what to put in it.  It's 80x80cm and I don't want to get it wrong. Don't want any family pics.

(Jo says ... It's a customised glass display piece where the image is printed directly onto the glass like the one below.  Except remember no family pics.)

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  • Response
    The biggest problem I see in this space is that the cabinets and floor blend together. I think Mish would lose value by painting those cabinets so rather than changing them, I would change the flooring and wall color. In the living area Mish has some nice accent pieces but most ...

Reader Comments (15)

I really like the space, and I think it would look great if it was lighter and brighter, with pops of colour in furnishings to liven it up a bit. White walls don't have to be boring, and I think it gives you more room to be versatile with your colour palette elsewhere in the home - for instance with soft furnishings. Grey tones are also great on walls because it is a neutral tone that looks great with any colour. I have white walls, and I change my cushions and lounge cover when I feel like I need a change. Makes a massive difference and can change the whole feel of the place.
There seems to be a lot of caramel tones in this space from the flloor (is it cork?), the kitchen, and the entertainment unit. It is nice, but I think it would look better if the colour was broken up a bit. I think if you changed the kitchen cupboards and the bench/island in the middle, it would make a HUGE difference. A cheap option is to paint the cupboards a different colour, or the more expensive option of completely re-doing the kitchen. You can also meet somewhere in the middle and just replace the cupboard doors. Also I think the entertainment unit could do with a change. I love the Expedit shelves from Ikea. You can really customise them, and add doors and drawers of different colours, plus the additions are cheap to replace if you want to change the colour scheme down the track. I have my TV on an Expedit shelf, but not the actual Expedit entertainment unit they sell. Just make sure with any shelf you buy, you check the fine print to see how much weight it can hold so your TV doesn't fall through it!

As for the glass print, how about a nice landscape picture? Black and white pictures are great because they suit all colour schemes, so it doesn't matter if you change the colour of your walls and furnishings again down the track, the picture won't look out of place or clash with what you have. I can see you have a lovely view of the sea, so perhaps something water related? If you google 'black and white photos ocean', it will give you lots of ideas, along with some links to sites that sell posters. You could possibly scan the poster, and use that for your glass print. The printer may also have some nice options available for you to choose from.

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine

It is a lovely space and your view is beautiful. I agree with the previous poster...I would try to break up some of the wood-toned color in the living space. For a quick update, I'd suggest adding rugs in the dining area and in the living area to break up the floor color. I also might think about changing up the seating and furniture layout in the living room...maybe a couch and chairs that are a bit more streamlined...and I'd probably add a coffee table.

I also agree with the water themed suggestion for the artwork....I think some blues would also help offset all those warm tones.

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlongtime/firsttime

Hi! I'd put a colorful rug under the dining room table. I also would add some plants. It does seem very caramel colored. I agree with the previous post. Your house is wonderful!

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJan

You have a great space. Changing the cupboards might be expensive, I like them myself even if it's all the same wood and colour everywhere. I think you have a great blank canvas to have fun with. Because you have similar textures and colours in cupboards, floor and entertainment wall unit, I would add a mix of texture, patterns and colours with accessories. It could be a runner on the dining room table, cushions on the dining room chairs, an area rug in the dining room area, a patterned area rug on top of the one in the living area, another pouf on the living are floor but this time with colour and/or pattern, again coloured and/or patterned cushions or throws on the sofas. You have all this space on top of your kitchen cupboards and counters and also on the top shelves of the media unit in the living room. You could add prints on the shelves (leaning on the walls), vases with flowers, vases and bowls, fun objects that talk to you, a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or the dining room table, great books. Like I said, it's a bit sterile, it doesn't look like someone lives there... what do you like? Do you read, collect things, like fun objects, light candles, would you like to hang plants from the ceiling? There are such great new, modern planters, candlesticks and such nowadays. Your lampshades look great too but again, one with colour and/or pattern might give the space some punch, or a coloured glass pendant. You could also add a fun, modern floor lamp in the living room, some art prints on the walls, new bed linen for the bedroom. I would not encourage you to scan a poster, I'm a digital artist myself and I have an issue with copyright images taken from the web. I don't know what is available to you, what they offer you for the glass print, there is a lot of digital art available for buying on the web but I don't know if the website or company that makes the glass prints offers such art. And now that I've read the previous post, I agree, you could change your entertainment unit for something like the Ikea Expedit or if possible, you could keep only some of the modules. Like I would remove the one with drawers under the TV and put the TV on top of the lower ones. Hope this helps.

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

Very pretty house with a lot of good stuff going on. I agree with Louise, although I would not change out your entertainment center. Do not paint those cabinets! I think the kitchen is fantastic and the entertainment center works well with the kitchen. What is not working is the placement, scale and color of your accessories (rug, clock, art, table lamps, vases, books, etc). It's really those accessories where you seem to have run out of steam or are using things you did not buy for this house. I think you should take all the accessories down and start over. I would pick a color you love that works with the cabinet tones, and get accessories all in the same color family. Yellow green (palm, cactus, chartreuse) would look great with the caramel and gray. Orangey reds would also work, or aqua blues. Make some groups, and eliminate any randomness in placement. They need to balance, and be the correct scale. This kind of stuff can take a lot of try outs, even for professional designers, so try to buy things that can be returned or exchanged.

These accessories need to be placed to define the zones in the house. And as Louise says, they should be personal to you. I don't think it looks right when people buy all those items together at one store.

Zones I see that need help are: the long horizontal area above the cabinets in the kitchen, the shelf surfaces of the entertainment wall, the night stands and above the bed . Get a headboard that goes up high it will define the bedroom and open up the space. Also the dining table needs a punch - a long, bright runner with some ceramics on top would look nice. Check out heathceramics.com for ideas.

If you were to buy any furniture, I would start with the sofas. Those soft, slip covers and rolled arms are not working with the modern cabinetry style. Sell those on craigslist and get something modular. Or if you prefer more traditional, something like the Hess sofa from roomandboard.com . Low, with squared off arms and back. Maybe in a linen color, or a lighter gray. Stay on the lighter side of neutral to freshen the space. Add pillows and a rug in your bright color.

For your print, you can check out artists and photographers at etsy.com - if you see something you like, contact the artist directly and ask about reproducing their image using your print service. The artist could send the file to you or direct to your printer. Good luck and have fun.

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChrista

Completely got into redoing the place, finished up, and my post was swallowed. I'm so very depressed.

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered Commenteroregonbird

@oregonbird When I write something long to post, I always copy it before I submit. So if my post gets swallowed I can paste it back and try again :) I learned from past experience lol

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

I think that if you split up the materials a little bit by changing some of the wood furniture it would make a huge difference. If you change the dinning table or replaced cupboard doors with colour ones in the cabinetry it will create a feature colour instead of everything matching, it can be too much, if you aren't into eclectic but like modern I would suggest that you pic a few pieces that are easily replaced/repurposed and put a favourite colour in their place, even using white would break it up. Also some texture on the floor and in the form of cushions, still I would suggest sticking to one main colour/tone so that the emphasis is on the texture and not a shocking colour contrast.
Have fun with it, good luck!

28 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Let's try this again.

You want something different. I can do that! I like the floor more than the matchy cabinetry, it's warm and powerful, so that stays.

Kitchen into focal point/hub -- how about going adult and ultra lounge? Take out the small upper cabinets, clear that wall. This is where some money will go -- your glass picture inspired me. Backlight art glass -- mod style.
Check out #20, #21 & #22.
Face the breakfast bar with more jewel tone glass tiles, but in slightly darker shades. Lose the family-style drum light, go with multiple jewel-tone pendant lamps. Go with metal and frosted glass for kitchen cabinets, OR go with a high-gloss wall system with an undulating high-contrast line across the entire bank AND the back wall of the office area to the left. Don't look at kitchen pictures for inspiration, look at coffee and bar lounges.

Since the kitchen has been changed so dramatically, the table doesn't need to be changed out -- it will be an oasis, a quiet zone. But to keep the lounge atmosphere moving, you need to upgrade the chairs. Something this-ish:
You will already need jewel-tone glasswear to go up in the kitchen, so go with darker jewel-tone dishes for use on the the table. The windows can use translucent tab curtains in matching colors - cheap and easy, but it will draw everything together.

I love your living room furniture -- really, your 'before' is so practical and comfortable, most people would end there. But you want different -- and that is very do-able, since you really are working with marvelous bones. Think boutique hotel lobby! Since comfort is important to your family, keep the sofas and chairs. The honey-toned pieces are excellent just as they are -- just slip-cover the neutral grey with the jewel-tone of your choice and bring on a few brilliant cushions to contrast with black cushions.

The storage just HAS to go, I'm willing to bet those cabinets are one of the reasons you're so tired of the decor. I love the black wall in contrast with the floor -- so reverse it. Go with a white or dark jewel-tone wall with black cabinetry. The long, low, lean look works beautifully on this wall, but lose the knobs and lines; something more minimal, more glossy, would give you a much more sophisticated atmosphere. This is where the rest of your money will go. Float the storage cabinets if you can, go with floating shelves and toss up some glass artworks and a few objects that reflect your taste and the colors you've chosen to work with. A few tiny spotlights or backlighting would be good. A black rug would have great impact -- maybe match it to the angular shape of the new cabinetry. There are so many options on storage, from 1950's teak to metal lockers to a Sintesi wall system, but this is my favorite:

Good luck, and please -- send pictures. Even 'work in progress' pictures!

29 Apr 2012 | Unregistered Commenteroregonbird

Wow, a lot of good ideas you got for your house!

I agree with everything that has been said concerning accessorizing it. I do believe eliminating the shelves that your TV is currently standing is a must, because it just doesn't fit, it shadows the shelves you have on the left side of the television. I would also change the dining table before adding a runner on it, maybe with something white, colorful or even metallic. What i would also do is transform the side of the kitchen island that you can see from the dining room, even if that would mean eliminating the bar area. You could add some shelves on it, to have some bowls or other colorful objects that can change the matching colour.

I I were you, I'd already get down to work. You've received enough suggestions! :P

29 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSimona

It's a great space with great views, but I would be upset by all that uniform caramel color. If it were my place I would be tempted to replace the fronts of the kitchen in a high gloss color, or re-sand and re-stain in pale grey or a darker brown. And lose the handles if possible. If that's too much work I would consider replacing the kitchen table with another wood--maybe walnut or sheesham. At the very least, to break up the caramel I would put a large patterned rug under the table. Something ethnic/modern such as one of these:


I like the rhythm of the audio visual unit in the living room, but agree that modern couches would look better. The Erik Joergensen EJ250 series would work well <http://www.erik-joergensen.com/index.asp?id=5328> given the generous scale of your space.

I would brighten up the bedroom by buying a large graphic suzani to use as a bedcover. For example <http://www.ebay.com/itm/LARGE-UZBEK-HAND-EMBROIDERY-SUZANI-OF-SAMARKAND-UZBEKISTAN-MAN-118-/160787424654?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256fad658e> is a good size. A search on ebay under "suzani" should turn up many examples.

It's a lovely space, and you have some really nice pieces. Love the Aeron chair in a domestic environment.

29 Apr 2012 | Unregistered Commenteracpgee

i wouldn't throw any of the money at contractors or painters. your house has great bones. but i might throw some at electricians.

redo/change most of your lighting. a single very large scale dining table fixture and better kitchen task lighting - island lighting, wall mounted sconces in the bedroom or again over-scaled bedside lamps. (i'd personally go vintage).

not a big rug person...but you needs them, at least two. a large dining room rug and a much larger living room rug that extends under all your seating.

more money to throw?
change your bedroom blinds - either a solar shade on a roller or some great linen panels which can coordinate with new bedding.
change the cover on your butterfly chair to a pop of solid woven color or a contrasting leather (animal hide?).
change your barstools. (i'd go bertoia wire either in chrome or powder coated but there are a lot of great modern and vintage options).

lastly, i'd ditch your couches/chairs. their scale, slipcovers, and curves will never be or read modern. you went for comfort which i get, but i'm typing this from my hans wegner papa bear chair/ottoman so i don't think you have to give up comfort if going modern. i would NOT buy a matching set or use one fabric. i wouldn't buy a coffee table but would get a much larger new poof/ottoman which could multipurpose as seating or a table.

29 Apr 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

For your glass-printed picture, I saw this photo earlier today, and it would look great as a larger piece of wall art:


It would also add some much needed dynamism to your interior. The reason why you're bored with your decor is because you've played it safe with every choice you've made! You need to introduce some freeform items: a vase of twisty twigs, a chaotic oil painting, a big piece of evocative grey driftwood, some art glass, a modernist mobile, some 70s print pillows for your sofas, etc etc. Some things that bring unexpected organic lines to your safe organised interior.

30 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBlanders

I am overwhelmed with how fluid and naturally these ideas occur to the design crew. A million thank yous, I have always hated the caramel tones, I do need large rugs and throw pillows, new couch and animal print butterfly chair. And I'm not stopping there. Pics up in a few months. Xxx

30 Apr 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMish

It's a great space and you have an amazing view. You just need more color and a bit less caramel. With that beautiful view you could give it a bit of a blue/seaside/tropical theme (subtle not ott). Maybe add a nice vase with flowers or a colorful fruit bowl to your kitchen island. Plants are great as they add life. A colorful rug under your dining room table and maybe another one to replace the grey run in the living area to break up the caramel. Add a few cushions in your new color scheme and your good. All things that can be changed easily without too much money or work.
Just personally I think there is far too much cabinet space in the living area which makes it seem a bit overdone. I think simple and minimal is best as when you're crashed out on the couch you only want to have the one focus point - the tv.
If you really wanted to splash out maybe a new lounge suite - a chaise perhaps and a nice coffee table for the centre of the room.
Your bedroom seems a bit dark and dated, I don't know if it's just the photo though. If it was my room I would add color in the form of a new bed spread but I would also have a headboard on that bed. You can do so much with head boards now and they just help break up the room better. Maybe clear up the bed side, do you need 2 lamps?

For your glass print you could maybe do a nice photo of the beach, maybe even the one your home looks over.

1 May 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTui

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