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At Home, Spring 2014

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Simply Perfect Design

3 Tips to Live By

From the Lake Keowee resort home owners to the rented studio apartment dwellers in downtown, there are a lot of easy ways to bring simply perfect design into your life! Show off your smarts with how you organize your belongings on your shelves, walls, and counter tops. I’m going to arm you with the means to sharpen up your home or office with a few simple tricks so that you can learn to examine your own spaces with a designer’s eye.

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Tip 1: Redesign your bookshelves! This is one of my favorite little style secrets for making any bookshelf area stunning. To start, take everything off of your shelves. If you are doing multiple sets of shelves, try to do them all at the same time so that you can mix and best use the items from each area. Once the shelves are empty, wipe them down and if you want, pick a fun accent color from your room and paint the back of the bookshelves with this color in a gloss or high gloss paint. One tip here is to try to use the same type of paint or finish that the bookcase is already finished with. For example, if it is oil base use oil base and if it is latex, use latex. If you are not sure of the type of paint, you can always use chalk paint which is sold locally by several shops. Try Vintage Made Modern for chalk paint- you may pick up other fun ideas for your furniture while there! Color or a darker neutral tone at the back of your shelves will really add creativity to the room and make your finished books and items look brilliant. Next, take all of the covers off of your hardback books. Group your books by spine color and size so that all of your navy spines are together, etc… from largest on the outside and smallest towards the inside of the shelf ends. Repeat this with each color. Odd or oversized books get laid down and stacked on top of each other in a pyramid. I like to top these book piles with a fun decorative item. Use the stack as a book end for your other colorful rows of books. Paperbacks can go to shelves in locations less prominent or can be used as your horizontal stacks, mixed in.

Tip 2: Hang it up! You can tastefully group and hang the artwork and mirrors in your home with just a few pointers. To begin, purify your space by reorganizing the majority of the personal pictures that are scattered about. Choose one wall (try your stairwell or longest hallway at home) to create a pictorial wall of art. Frame all of your pictures in a similar style, if you are able, and organize them in groupings of themes such as color and black and white photographs or have them tell the story of your family’s life in a timeline. You can use paper to create size templates to play with the layout on the wall or lay them out on the floor in a pattern you like before hanging. However you choose to accomplish this, you will not only free crowded surfaces from clutter, but you will also gain a large storyline on your life which can become great topics of conversation for both family and guests.

What is the golden rule of thumb for hanging artwork? Of course this is always location specific but here are a few guidelines that will get you there. First, survey your pictures and artwork in your home and see if you can find themes or groups to put your art into such as similar artistic styles or colors or framing techniques. Select the rooms in your home that best match the color and volume of these groups of art. Larger pieces can be the leader in the pack for deciding which groups should be placed in exact locations. When hanging groups of artwork or photos, such as for your picture wall mentioned above, place only four to five inches between the pictures so they appear as an anthology.
To find the proper hanging heights, we like to use the other horizontal planes in the room to guide the decision for how high to hang the top of the picture. For example, use the nearest window mullion (the dividing grill in the door or window glass). From there, match the height of the center of the piece of art to approximately 60” above the floor. If you need to adjust the art up or down a few inches to meet the next closest architectural horizontal line with the top of the frame, do this.

If there are no strong horizontal accents to use as a guide for the top line of the art then go ahead and put the center of the art piece at 60” above the floor. When there is a piece of furniture or wall trim carpentry under the artwork, we generally put 4” to 12” between the bottom of the artwork and the top surface of the furniture or trim carpentry; again using other horizontals such as the bottom line of a lamp shade as other points to fall in line with in order to find the perfect hanging height. When in doubt, go lower with art placement rather than higher. And Voila! … Happy Walls!

Tip 3: Clutter-free is the new black! Get with the program! Decide what objects in your living space has true sentiment and what items you just ‘like.’ Do an analysis in each room as to whether or not you feel you truly need to hang on to the piece or if it can be donated. To help with this, ask yourself, ‘Have I appreciated or used this item within the last year or is it just collecting dust?’ It is amazing to me how much STUFF we collect without even realizing it. This kind of purge can be done for most in a day and it makes such a huge difference; it is like a detox and a personal cleansing created just by eliminating the extra knick-knacks that find themselves creeping over the tops of our dressers and side tables. One handy hint is that if you collect enough items, SOS Thrift Store (Support Outreach Services) will do a pick up and take the items off our hands, free of charge, it is a tax write-off, and you are giving back to the community; what could be better? After you have cleared your items, try to live on a motto of “Buy one item= Clean another out.” This is an easy way to always stay on top of the task. You will fall in love with the fresh new look of your space!


We know that designing a home or office, whether remodeling or building from the ground up, can be a daunting task if you do not have the right team in place. We are excited to learn more about you and your story to help realize your design dreams.

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