3 Tips for Remodeling in 2013

Be true to your design ethos. Are you all about the cottage feel with a clean, crisp mood?

Is there anything more fun than home-remodeling? OK, maybe there is, but the thrill of bringing a creative interior vision into life is hard to replicate. Creating a modern space that suits your personal tastes is no easy challenge, however, and not only because of the hard work and manual labor involved. In fact, the design and development process can be equally difficult, especially as not all of your ideas will fall within a pre-set budget. Above all else, however, finding inspiration for your dream home can be hard as there are simply so many design templates and trends from which to choose!

While your individual tastes and preferences will have a huge influence on your creative vision, there are some modern trend, design elements and consumer tips that have universal appeal. Consider the following:

Shop Independently and Innovatively: The fixtures and furnishings that you buy will determine the finished look of your new home, so make a commitment to shop independently and creatively. More specifically, be sure to select furnishings that fit perfectly with your design ethos, while you should also identify functional components that can be sourced cheaply and at bargain basement prices. When looking for furniture, for example, consider buying unique and fully assembled items from retailers such as Notation Furniture, as this will enable you to make convenient purchases that do not compromise the visual appeal of your home.

How about some wall to wall and floor to ceiling shelving?

Invest in Innovative Storage Space: We all hate clutter, but it is so hard to maintain a open and clear space within a functioning home. Owners of new build properties will be particularly familiar with this, as these homes are typically compact and cramped in comparison with older structures. Fear not, however, as one modern design trend has helped to resolve this issue and help residents to create open plan kitchens and living areas. The development of innovative and hidden storage solutions has revolutionized space management in the modern home, and investing in these can help you to maintain a minimalist look with compromising on the practical appeal of your home.

Get a lot of bang for your buck by remodeling your kitchen!

Focus on Remodeling your Kitchen and Bathroom Space: If you are planning to remodel your home with a view to selling it, you will need to take a slightly different approach than normal. In particular, you will need to focus on embellishing your existing kitchen and bathroom areas, as these are the stars of the show that will ultimately wow buyers and encourage them to make an offer. The kitchen is particularly important, as it is now seen as a multi-functional room that serves entertainment and recreational purposes in addition to purely practical ones. You must keep this in mind, and make the kitchen the focal point of your newly designed home!

I know! I know! Remodeling is not all fun, there’s frustrations to come along but keep your eye on the goal…it will be all worth it!

Images: House to Home

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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Great Design for Tiny Spaces

Even in Texas, where everything is big, people are opting more and more for right-sized spaces which may be too tiny for some. The dilemma of small space design and decorating has always been a challenge for some people.  Today, we have a Chicago-based interior designer share with us some secrets of the art of great design in tiny spaces.

Although the times have changed and the economy have forced a lot of people to downsize, cities like New York and San Francisco are still charging prime for their real estate. As a result, the houses are getting smaller as many people are found living in apartments. If you live in an apartment, especially in New York City, where the average size of a studio is 400 square feet, you must know how to master the art of space saving. If you are struggling on how to fit all your belongings in such a small space while keeping everything looking pretty, the following tips are just for you:

1. Bye-bye Clutter:  Since space is an issue, you should keep your place to a minimal by reducing the amount of unnecessary items. Everything that is broken beyond repair should be tossed and everything that hasn’t been used or worn in more than a year should leave the house too (consider selling or donating). Go paperless on as many bills as possible.
2. Think Vertical:  When living in a small space you should always think vertical by incorporating bookshelves or storage systems that allow you to expand up to the ceiling (for a cleaner look seek storage with doors).  Remember, more vertical storage you get, less claustrophobic your space will feel.

3. Embrace Color  & Think about Scale: It is true that certain colors can make your room looks bigger or small. However, what a lot of people forget is the scale of their furnishings. You don’t have to live in a completely white apartment to feel the largeness of the room. What you need to consider when designing for a small space is the proportion of the furnishings and how they are connected to each other. If your entire wall unit is white (and has doors), your sofa and chairs are also white, and you are using clear materials for your accent tables for example, you can (and you should) go bold on your walls. A medium to dark shade of grey will make your furniture to stand out and you can easily change the feeling of the room by using different colors on pillows and throws.

4. Bring Light In: From bringing down your energy bill monthly to improving your health, the benefits of day light are endless.  If you live in a very tiny home, the probability you have a very limited amount of windows is pretty high. However, you can create the illusion of having more windows by installing mirrors at strategic walls that would reflect the day light throughout your home.

5. Make most of your bed : When living in a place where every inch counts, having an underneath bed storage is a must. Although I prefer beds that are designed to provide storage underneath, if you don’t like them or if you can’t afford them, you should look for a bed lift to raise it just enough for you to slide few bins under the bed. Pottery Barn and West Elm have great options for bed with underneath storage.
6. Buy Strategic Furniture :Start thinking outside the box and consider buying double duty furniture. In the bedroom, replace your nightstands with a dresser on each side of the bed. In the living room, a sofa bed instead of a traditional one; and have a storage ottoman for extra linens as a coffee table.

7. Decorate with Shelves: In the bathroom, instead of hanging artwork opt for installing shelves for extra storage.   If you have a specific area you use for your home-office, don’t limit yourself to traditional bookshelves. Do better by installing shelves above the desk for a cleaner, more organized look.

No matter how small your space is whether it is an apartment rental, loft, or small home, if you start feeling lost or overwhelmed, consult an interior designer. A good interior design professional will find a very unique design solution to address your needs.

VK Sustainable Concepts’ Principal Andrea Vollf, LEED AP ID+C, is a registered interior designer and sustainability professional with over fifteen years of experience in the interior design and marketing industries. Ms. Vollf is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois Chapter, with in‐depth knowledge of all aspects of Sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic.

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Tom Schereer Decorates

If you don’t know it yet, all interior designers, stylists and decorators can’t have enough of, well, design books. Heck, we have shelter mags and design magazines overflowing in every console, cabinet, and even the floor of the house. What more, hardbound, thick books with gorgeous covers? Coffee table books should go into rotation is a new styling tip I’m brewing. Last week, I received this book, Tom Scheerer Decorates by Vendome Press, with gorgeous photos by Francesco Lagnese and  written by Mimi Read; the book not only inspires but educates at the same time.

Mimi was spot on about the decorating style of Tom Scheerer, when she stated “it’s a more restrained brand of chic.” It’s old-fashioned and classic yet modern and well-edited at the same time. It’s unpretentious, the kind that you admire but know that it’s also approachable. It’s never screaming out loud, yet it catches your attention.

See for yourself and read some of my takeaways from this glorious design book:

1. You can repeat a pattern in wallcovering and furniture. Here, he paired cane-inspired wallpaper with a cane-inspired secretary.

Tom schereer bathroom design

2. Cobalt Blue looks amazing in a traditional dining room.

blue dining room Tom Scheerer

3. Spaces should be perfectly imperfect. Here, a staircase landing {or a foyer area?} is functional, yet beautiful and full of character.

Interiors of Tom Scheerer for Book

4. Floor to Ceiling Pastel Color Paint is dramatic.

Tom Scheerer Interiors

5. Whitewashed walls and floors paired with organic and earthy hues brings depth to a space.

interiors tom schereer

6. Do not be afraid to mix several styles that seemingly don’t go together. Here, the classic is mixed with the global and modern and contemporary.

tom schereer decorates book

There are more styling, design and decorating tips to gather from this amazing book of course! What interested me the most is the background behind Tom Schereer’s design philosophy. He said he is turned off by decorating that’s all about superficiality and frivolity. That design should be “about being able to balance symmetry, asymmetry, deliberation and improvisation, harmony and dissonance.” Very well said, design & decorating is not “trivial” as other people may perceive it to be. It’s creating spaces, rooms and homes that speaks, that’s full of life!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Austin Smarter Spaces Tour 2013

In Austin, the Modern Homes Tour has a cousin and it’s name is the Smarter Spaces Tour. The tour will be in it’s second year this September 7th and I urge you to check out what it’s all about. It shouldn’t be in the 100’s anymore {let’s hope, right?} and a great time to soak in what’s “smart” in home living from our fellow Austinites.

From the visionaries behind Launch787, founders, Matt Swinney and James Leasure believes that a “smart” space is all about “right” sized living. I had the chance to interview Matt Swinney on how this tour came about.

1. What was the catalyst for you to launch a Smarter Spaces Tour?

Actually, this tour was conceived from our own personal experience. We have a 1950 1600 square foot home in Central Austin. It’s a 3 bedroom and we have 2 kids. We started looking for bigger homes, but found we really couldn’t afford to move up significantly and stay in Central Austin. Location was more important to us than space, so instead we worked with a designer (Thoughtcrib and then you Maureen!) to edit our layout some. We ended up shrinking our master bedroom and adding a second living space. Our home is exactly what we wanted and we didn’t expand our footprint at all — all for about $10,000.

During the process, we talked to lots of friends in similar situations and we found out we weren’t alone in our thinking. A smaller, more intimate home in the location you want is a common trend in Austin (and throughout the US). The idea of the “American Dream” being a suburban home with 4000 square feet, 5 bedrooms, a game room and 2 dining areas isn’t what most Austinites are wanting today. We wanted to create a home tour that showed how to take the average square footage (2500) and smaller in Central Austin and create uniquely designed homes that are both “smart” and incredibly beautiful.

smarter spaces tour austin


Alan K. Barley


2. What do you think are the Top 3 things that makes a home smarter?

First and foremost is the way space is used. We’ve all been in large homes that feel small and small homes that feel large. Square footage is just a number. How the home is laid out for a family’s needs is significantly more important than numerically how big it is. “Smart” to me is how one can take a vintage home and re-design it within the same footprint but to fit our modern lifestyle.

Technology is also key. And I don’t necessarily mean that an iPad controls everything in your home. I mean things that save space like adding tankless water heaters in older homes — that almost always gains a closet without expanding footprint. And while it’s not space-saving, adding things like a Nest to your home so you can control your HVAC from a smart phone is almost no-brainer. It’s low entry cost and pays for itself in probably a year. It’s money-saving but also environmentally more conscious.

Finally, I always advocate for using a designer once your space has been created {Can I just say a big YES to this?} In the U.S., we tend to buy really big furniture and more times than not, it just clogs up space and doesn’t really add to one’s lifestyle. Designers can help space-plan in a way the layperson can’t. Some people are great at it, but having that third party pay attention to how you live can give a unique perspective and help that small home feel larger than it actually is.

smarter spaces tour austin
Alan K. Barley

3. The Modern Home Tours has grown leaps and bounds in the past few years; is your vision for the Smarter Home Tours the same as the MHT? Go national or even global?

I’m not sure. The Modern Home Tours have gone so well nationally and even internationally that we’re really focusing the out-of-Austin growth on that. That said, it’s clear that the trend in America is for smaller, uniquely designed residential spaces. Since it’s a popular tour here in Austin, we’d be crazy to not at least consider trying to grow it in other cities as well.

smarter spaces tour austin


D. Crain


Thank you so much Matt!

So what do you think everyone? I hope to see you there. Get your tickets here!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Photo Shoot Outtakes

Oh , hello blog! Whew, it has been a while since I regularly posted. I’ve been out for three weeks, two weeks for work & one week for a little R & R at the beach. So, it’s been work, work, work then play for me this Summer. How about you?

There’s something about my present routine that’s making me rethink how I should go about achieving my goals. Must be the new books I’m reading, or the countless long drives or that in a couple of months; another year will be added to my life…this one is a milestone! Anywho, sorry for boring you a bit; just thinking aloud. For today, I thought of showing some outtakes from one of the photo shoots I did last year. No, they’re not goofy but just looking at them makes me think of how I love doing shoots, styling and productions. And that even something as simple as a photo shoot can give you insight and ideas and thoughts to ponder about.

rustic photo shoot

Details matter. {The reason why I hoard vintage and non-vintage stuff … props styling is definitely one of my passions!}

rustic photo shoot

Planning ahead is important but the finished project changes and flows as it goes.

rustic photo shoot

And yes, it does take a lot of concentration and focus. {Allen Otto on video}

rustic photo shoot

You have to surround yourself with great people. Here, a great photographer {Jenny Fu} is crucial as well as an amazing wardrobe stylist {Rose Tran} & make-up artist {Laura Martinez}.

rustic photo shoot

behind the scenes

 It takes a village to get it all together.

rustic photo shoot

And some things, sometimes don’t go the way you want them to go. {The crystal beads were falling off like crazy in this lamp and it just won’t stand right!}

behind the scenes

Thankfully, I have an amazing set of extra hands. Help and support is always out there, sometime you have to look for it fervently and sometimes, it’s right there staring you in the face. {Do you see Rachel’s hand holding the lamp still?}

There sure are things to learn in the little {and big} things we do; a little bit of reflection and introspection can do so much to keep us focused and just enjoy the journey. Happy Monday everyone!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Handmade for HGTV | Gatsby Tray

Woop! Woop! It’s Friday everyone, although every day should be a fun day, Friday and the weekends seem to signal more excitement, no? Here’s another installment of our Handmade for HGTV series. I know, I know, for some of you, the sound of  crafting doesn’t sound sophisticated or the sound of DIY makes you cringe. But, mind you there’s been several studies that crafting and doing DIY’s exercise our brain, makes our creativity flourish and eventually helps us deal with the stressors of everyday life. Call me preachy Priscilla at this moment, ha! Totally kidding.

Our next installment is about making a Gatsby-inspired vanity tray. After all, shouldn’t your boudoir be a little more glam? Then Art Deco is the way to go? It’s all in the details. Here are your materials:

art deco tray DIY

gatsby tray DIY

Click here for the step-by-step how-to at HGTV. The stencil is available here.

P.S. If your work looks imperfect, don’t worry. Imperfectly perfect is beautiful!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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The Striped Outdoors

It is freakishly {totally a word according to the Dictionary} hot here in Texas so although we are made for the outdoors; we’re keeping that to a minimum. I’m totally not saying that I don’t love beautiful porches, patios and cabanas. In fact, I prefer eating al fresco 99% of the time. When decorating an outdoor conversation area; your norm are solids played up with throw pillows of different patterns. Another “neutral” thing to try? Stripes. You can play it up and you can play it down. You can go for brights or go greige. Here are some ideas for you:

Stripe your floors black or gray for a touch of sophistication or in pastel for a cottage feel in the sunroom or patio.

Baby blues & pinks goes casual {and not nursery-like} when mixed with teak.

An outdoor striped cabana – when the outdoors becomes indoors and vice versa.

Classic wrought iron with natural fiber is great with taupe stripes.

Or go exotic, global and southwestern with your stripes.

I hope you’re enjoying the rest of your Summer and staying pretty calm although school has just started again {whether you’re a student, a teacher or have kids in school}. Enjoy and happy hump day!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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Absolutely Beautiful WallPaper

I must admit, I do have a wallpaper fetish; c’mon how can I resist those gorgeous patterns in a wide array of colors and textures. I absolutely can’t have enough! I’m always stalking Schumacher, Osborne and Little; Cole and Son; I feel like we all have been friends for so long. For people who is a little scared to take the plunge to use wallpaper in their space, start small. In the guest bath perhaps? A little accent wall in the home office?

In the design world, I think Anna Spiro is a rockstar, an Aussie rockstar that is. The designer extraordinaire of Black & Spiro and the brainchild behind the blog Absolutely Beautiful Things is all about bright and cheerful spaces; where patterns are mainstays and mixing and matching is the norm. She debuted her array of wallcovering in partnership with Porter’s Paints last year and of course it didn’t disappoint.

It came in three patterns: Rosey Posey Trellis, Higgledy Piggledy Stripe, Round and Round the Garden. You probably know which pattern I’m in love with the most. Well, I’m a big “trellis” fan. In the US, her line is available at Sydney Harbour Paints. My samples are coming soon and getting ready to present it to a design client. Are you a wallpaper fan?

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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Au Natural | Wall Coverings to Love

From time to time, a girl’s gotta get a little more responsible.  A little more environmentally friendly.  A little more concerned with the bigger picture.  Ok, and a little more obsessed with the look of natural fiber wall coverings.  We are convinced they’re going to be the next big thing in design and, as such, have jumped head first into ogling pictures of them and attempting to find excuses to use them in our own homes and designs.  From linen to sisal to seagrass, the varieties of style are endless and incredibly sophisticated and low key.  Just take a gander at a few of these pictures and you’ll see what we mean.


A chic neutral grass cloth brings texture to this space


Naturals on naturals on naturals: grasscloth walls, sisal carpet and burlap poufs


The colorful side of grass cloth


Who would’ve guessed painted cork could look this sophisticated??

I love everything about this room, but the deep charcoal linen wall covering is what really sets it apart.

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 11.33.33 AM

If you were wondering what my dream bathroom would look like…

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And if all this is too much for you, maybe just try framing in a few pieces of natural coverings!

Ok ok, we’ll stop drooling and get back to work now.  Hopefully these images piqued your interest in the greener side of design and made the start of your work week a little more inspired!

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

Rustic and Unboring Neutrals

Being that I’ve been inundated with bubblegum photos and an explosion of brights in interiors in blogland, I suddenly have this fondness over rustic and neutral interiors. Not that it wasn’t there before; it’s just that the desire is louder than ever. It’s a mix of old world and new world; the warmth of wood, nostalgia of stone and a pop of neutrals. Not that neutrals can really have a “pop,” but in these images they kinda do! See for yourself.

rustic living room

I am so sorry for the lack of posting. This week has been a whirlwind of client meetings and new projects on the horizon. I do hope to share it with all of you soon! Happy weekend everybody!

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Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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