Modern Wallpaper / Wallcoverings – Types and Where to Use

Hang Ups?

We all know it’s a big NO to those robo calls but a big YES to wallcoverings today!  You may have some hang ups about using wallcovering though, if you remember when it was not only hard to install but a nightmare to remove.  Fast forward to the wallcoverings of today and technology has improved and made them so different and exciting!  The texture and sustainability of wallpapers are much improved and they can add so much interest to not only the walls, but ceilings, furniture, built-ins, and even stair risers. 

Modern Day Wallpaper

The options are so current and diversified that the design opportunities are endless.  Whether you are traditional or contemporary, floral or geometric, bright colors or subdued, seeking quiet elegance, gloss or metallic, a stucco or wood faux finish, glass beads, peacock feathers, or embedded LED lighting, the statement will be impactful and an easy way to update your space!

Where to Use Wallpaper

Accent Wall

Photo by York Wallpaper RY2817

Next, you will want to determine how you want to use these great new options.  Do you want a feature wall, such as behind a bed or seating area, or to create drama or just an exciting finish on a ceiling? 

Powder Room Wallpaper

Photo by Thibaut, Wallpaper Pattern: Maryse in Metallic on Navy from Artisan Collection

One of the most popular uses of the bold papers is in powder rooms. What better place to have a little fun and add some personality! You don’t have a moisture problem here, and the space is smaller, so you can really go as bold as you want. In a full bathroom, however, do be certain to make sure there is proper ventilation and use a water resistant vinyl to be safe.

Update Furniture with Wallpaper

Photo by apartmenttherapy.com

Covering a boring, perhaps damaged or scratched piece of furniture can give it a whole new, current look. Usually a grass cloth or textured linen is good for this, although we recently used a chinoiserie paper to make a piece of furniture for a specific size and space needed.

Stair Risers

Photo from Brewster Wallpaper

Another dramatic use of wallcovering can be on stair risers, with the proper adhesive and protective coating added.

Importance of a great installer!

Of course, working with a knowledgeable installer is important, because installation varies depending on the product being installed.  You should also rely on your installer for the final estimate of how many rolls to order.  It can get to be a little confusing with whether the wallpaper only comes in double rolls or single, factoring in the repeats of the pattern, deducting for windows and doors, figuring out if there is shading with the texture and if the wallpaper needs to be turned, and determining if the wallcovering will show seams, etc.  In addition, your installer will make sure that the wall is properly prepared and will use the best adhesive for your particular wallcovering.  In the end, using quality wallpaper and having a great installer will provide results that are dramatic and add a lot of personality to your space. 

So, answer the call!

Other posts you may also be interested in:

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Are CFL’s Dangerous and what are the pros and cons of the changing light bulbs?

 

The shelves are full of CFL light bulbs with the new regulation going into effect Jan. 2012, but are CFLs dangerous since they contain mercury?  Fluorescent lighting has been used in offices & schools since the 1930s, & all fluorescents contain a small amount – less than the tip of a pencil.  According to the American Lighting Association spokesperson, “There is no evidence from any research that has been done, that the small amount of mercury in a modern fluorescent bulb is harmful to humans or the environment, within certain limits.  There is no intrinsic danger in using fluorescent bulbs within our homes.  There is also now low-mercury CFLs available in the marketplace to help assuage consumer concerns,” he said.  He also recommended visiting Energystar.gov for more information about the use of mercury in bulbs.

So what will replace the 100 watt light bulb?

 

So what will replace the 100 watt light bulb as of Jan. 1, 2012?  One option is the halogen A19 light.  This bulb is a 72 watt incandescent that has halogen technology.  Another option to get the same amount of light is the 26 watt CFL (compact fluorescent light).  Just get the warm tone one to look more like the incandescent, rather than the cool tone.  The smaller the number, the warmer the light.  A warm, yellow light rates 2,700; a cool blue scores 5000.  But help with this is on the way.  New labeling goes into effect in 2012, which will include information about brightness, cost to operate, bulb life expectancy, light appearance, & wattage.  Labels must also include a disclosure for bulbs containing mercury.  More to follow on the mercury issue, differences in CFLs & halogens & how long they last; & of course we will fill you in on the latest with LEDs.

changing light bulbs

Evolution of lighting causes interior designer bulb hoarding?

 

Have you been storing light bulbs like a squirrel because you heard the government was banning incandescent light bulbs?  You are not alone, but no, they are not.  However, the wattage is being trimmed.   At the start of 2012, the 100 watt bulb will not be available but it must produce the same amount of light at no more than 72 watts.  In 2013, the 75 watt will be cut to 53 watts, followed by the 60 watt & 40 watt in 2014.  And there are dozens of incandescent that are not even being addressed in this legislation – twenty-two categories are exempted including candelabra base & three-way incandescent.  All of this was enacted to improve our energy independence & boost product efficiency.  But we have great news about new product that not only will be more efficient, but you won’t have to change as often.  Stay tuned..much more on this subject…!

                                                                                             phases of the bulb

Is your Kitchen Making you Fat?

 

Interesting article out of the UK recently paralleled how as kitchens have almost doubled in size since l920, women have added on average half an inch to their busts, an inch to their waists and three-quarters of an inch to their hips each decade.  Have we made this “heart of the home” so large, luxurious & the place where the whole family hangs out so that we don’t leave it?  A recent survey says we spend more waking hours in the kitchen than anywhere else.  Of course so many are now open & part of the family living space.  As we are not only eating, but relaxing, doing homework, making phone calls, reading the paper, surfing the internet & watching TV, are we munching distractedly?  And as the countertops get cluttered with newspapers & mail, it is harder to find space to pull out the utensils & prepare a healthy meal, so perhaps it’s quick food.

I know we don’t want to give up our wonderful kitchens & the good family time spent there, so perhaps we have to learn some new ways of more conscious eating.  Using a 2 inch smaller plate can trim off 200 calories a day & can equate to a 2lb weight loss in a month.  Hide the food away in pantries except for the fruit bowl.  If the lighting is too bright, it can cause stress levels to rise, stimulating your appetite & make you eat quickly, so lower them when you eat.  Even the color of your wall can have an impact.  Go for a cooler,silvery shades rather than warmer colors, which research shows can tempt you to eat up to 33% more.

Technology has improved fabrics!

 
white sofa and kids…you can have both now.

With todays advancements in technology, we can now have chenille’s and woven fabrics for our outdoor spaces and luxurious and practical fabrics that can be cleaned with bleach. We have a large variety to chose from at our new Fabric House in the Houston Design Center! Please contact us if you would like any information on these gorgeous performance fabrics! Also, visit our website at www.fabrichousetx.com or call us at 713.864.7550!

Why Support Locally Owned Businesses?

1.  Local Character and Prosperity

In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.

2.  Community Well-Being

Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.

3. Local Decision-Making

Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.

4.  Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy

Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.

5.  Job and Wages

Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.

6.  Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.

7.  Public Benefits and Costs

Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.

8.  Environmental Sustainability

Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.

9.  Competition

A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.

10.  Product Diversity

A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.

ADA Compliant Sconces; now Beautiful and Practical

 

At Design House we are now offering amazing sconces that are not only simple, clean lined & beautiful, but also ADA compliant, so they can be used for residential narrow hallways and also for contract or hospitality projects. Our new wall sconce collection reflects the unique and functional products offered at DHI. Hand-applied finishes, natural materials and high quality fabrics are used to create a decorative, yet practical lighting option.

ADA Compliant Sconces at Design House

African Beads and Jewels that Benefits Disadvantaged Kenyans

 

On the mission trip in Africa, we toured and shopped at “Kazuri”, a large bead factory which provides employment and benefits for single mothers.  They showed us how they process the clay, paint the beads and make jewelry.  Only about 25% of production is for Africa, with 75% exported.

“Kazuri” is the Swahili word for “small and beautiful,” a fitting name for the multitude of exquisite

beads handmade by Kenyan women.  No molds or forms are used by the 350 women who shape each bead by hand.  The process continues as the beads are fired, painted, glazed, and fired again before being strung into necklaces and bracelets that are exported to 30 countries. The mission of Kazuri is to provide and sustain employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan society. Most Kazuri employees would tell you the company has transformed their lives.  Kazuri provides good salaries, excellent working conditions, and a sense of self-sufficiency in a country where financial security, especially for women, is rare.

Kazuri has since grown to employ 350 women in 2008, with at least twenty women being trained regularly, ready for full-time employment as demand increases.  The workshop itself is now located in an area that was once part of Karen von Blixen’s (of Out of Africa fame) coffee plantation, and includes several buildings, each built by local workers using local materials.

We know sell these beautifully hand-made beads in the showroom!

Innovative and Sustainable Outdoor Furnishings

 

Something fun and different I saw at market this year were some great “forward thinking” outdoor furnishings and decor. These eye-catching pieces were made with innovative materials, such as ceramics, metals, concrete and recycled bottles; all of which can be mixed and matched together to elevate and freshen up your indoor and outdoor areas.  Some of the most interesting and unusual were sophisticated versions of the cozy “bean bag chairs”, made with the use of recycled materials with hand woven textures and their simple, sleek sculptured shapes which are easy to drain because they are filled with polystyrene beads.  Also, they can be added to or removed as needed, and they will be be available in the Sunbrella fabrics in the future. These unique options were occupanied by brightly colored, glazed ceramic tables and stools, available in a variety of shapes and color combinations including turquoise, orange, red & apple green.  The ceramic pieces are also available in vases, bowls, urns, jars, planters & fountains.  Many of these pieces such as the modern metal furnishings, the architectural light weight concrete tables, chairs, ottomans and planters as well as the ceramic pieces would make striking statements in both indoor and outdoor spaces. The look of the light-weight concrete tables and planters  has been softened with natural sands and hemp-like grass so no two are exactly the same.  They are not only durable but sustainable – constructed from biodegradable materials, “the pieces both withstand and find peace in the forces of nature.”  I even saw cool floor lamps for the exterior which are light and sleek—they unflinchingly endure the most relentless winds and storms, courtesy of an architecturally designed mechanism that easily anchors the base to your outdoor surface. As the winner of the 2010 European Red Dot Design award. All of these pieces were not only progressively stunning, but amazingly practical and comfortable…a perfect solution for transforming any space into a dreamscape, and available soon at Design House.

The color GREEN; as a Pigment and a Movement

 

This is some interesting information recently read about GREEN as the color used to paint an enviromental movement. It automatically makes since that GREEN would be the pigment chosen for obvious reasons (nature) but it is actually strange because the GREEN pigments are actually toxic. Even with all the new and modern dyes pigments and technology advancements, GREEN is still problematic for several reasons. According to a man Micheal Braungart,” it is impossible to dye plastic green or to print green ink on paper without contaminating them”. In the past GREEN often faded and at times, even burned holes in canvas due to the arsenic. The arsenic “off gased toxic fumes and led to many deaths” back in the 18th and 19th century…possibly including Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821! “Paris Green” known to us as the shade Emerald Green was so toxic at one point that it was used to kill rats in the sewers in Paris. Now GREEN is the symbol of this great enviromental movement because the Canadians protested against charter ships and started a campaign against nuclear testing in Alaska which they called “Greenpeace” and since then “GREEN parties” emerged all around the world…interesting about GREEN, right?!

Want Clean Air with Low VOCs (volatile organic chemicals) in your Environment?

 

Try wool carpet.  Wool is a natural fiber that has the ability to absorb indoor contaminants, including formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, and lock them into its core without re-releasing them.  As such, wool improves indoor air and creates healthier working and living environments.  It has been estimated that wool carpets can continue purifying indoor air for up to 30 years.  Also, wool carpet was shown to retain the gases when heated, as would occur with underfloor heating, while synthetic carpet, which absorbed nitrogen dioxide at less than half the rate of wool, also re-emitted it more readily.  Other VOCs that might be more readily recognized include:  wood resins, paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment and craft materials including glues, adhesives and permanent markers. At high enough concentrations, VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as aggravate allergy and asthma symptoms.  And in serious situations – perhaps someone already ill or compromised, some VOCs can cause neurological disorders, organ failure and even cancer.

Want to know more about keeping your environment clean and safe?  Let us hear from you.

Suffering from “recessionary survival fatigue” and Considering Remodeling, Buying a new Home or Preparing to Sell?

 

Here is what a 2011 consumer preference survey revealed – so you can make some smart decisions.

The top-ranking features that consumers want include:

High-efficiency heating and cooling systems (89%)

High-efficiency appliances (85%)

Deck or patio (84%) Low-maintenance exteriors (79%)

Here is what they want for the living spaces:

Separate laundry room (81)

Additional storage space, such as walk-in closets or built-ins (79%)

Home office, workspace, or family computing center (67%)

Outdoor grilling or living area (67%)

At least one additional bedroom with an ensuite bathroom (65%)

Everyday eating space in or near the kitchen (64%)

Of course the list would grow as the price range increases, but this is a place to start to invest wisely.

How has the Economy and Other Challenges in the Design Industry Affected Business?

 

I’ve seen the economy go up and down – remember the slogan “Stay alive to 85”?  I’ve found that especially during those times, not unlike today’s economy, you can actually emerge stronger. For example, networking and peer tables were created for designers during that period and we all grew.  Technology is of course a major change and challenge I have seen.  In those 30 years have come faxes, computers, cell phones and they have kept evolving into more complex equipment for both us and our clients.  I found you have to make them your asset and aid and grow with them.  How wonderful it is to be in Europe and e-mail a photo of a potential item to a client wherever they are for approval.  I remember how exciting my first huge, digital camera was, and that wasn’t that many years ago.  I had a client who couldn’t decide on the façade colors of their home, so I experimented with my “new” digital, took a picture of the house and colored in the selections.  They made an immediate decision.  That seems so primitive now.  And of course CAD has made space design so quick, clean, changeable, and transportable.  We can work on projects anywhere!

What Can You do to Get Ready for Cold Weather in Houston?

 

The last couple of years has been quite a learning experience for me, both as a resident of Houston and also as a business owner/designer.  After living in an area for more than 30 years with nothing other than power outages, some street flooding, and occasional downed trees, Hurricane Ike arrived in September, and then came the rains of April (which is an entire blog I have for another day!)  and now this… late in the season artic COLD front!

Houston is not well adjusted for harsh and extreme cold fronts. Just like today, the temperatures may plummet quickly, and it is important to be prepared ahead of time. Extreme cold can cause frostbite and hypothermia or trigger respiratory problems. It is safest to remain indoors until the conditions improve although at times the harsh weather changes can bring about power outages and other unexpected problems. There were rolling blackouts and many power outages which caused many businesses and schools to close. The freezing rain, sleet and snow warnings have also closed down the schools and some businesses as well. Here are some proactive steps that will ensure that your home and/or business remains safe from harsh winter weather…

  1. Stock your home/business with essential items. These include food, water and medication. Keep enough to sustain yourself and your family and pets for a few days in case you are not able to leave your home. The best choices are ready-to-eat products such as cereal, crackers, peanut butter or other foods that do not require preparation. Buy a manual can opener so that you can eat canned food.
  2. Buy rock salt and sand to melt ice on your porch, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots. Purchase a study snow shovel and keep it accessible.
  3. Winterize your interior space to keep as much heat from escaping as possible. Cover your windows with plastic or newspaper, caulk around the windowsills and in any cracks in the walls or floors. Turn off any external water faucets by closing off the valve closest to the inside of your home. These may be in the basement or crawlspace. Drain the water to prevent it from freezing and bursting your pipes.
  4. Get extra firewood or other heating fuel and batteries. Stock up on blankets and warm clothing (hats, gloves/mittens, scarves and coats) in case you lose electricity. Keep candles and matches nearby.
  5. Prep your home and/or business by changing the filters on your central heating system and check for any leaks. If you suspect any leaky ducts, call a heating contractor to check out it out. Caulk all gaps/joints in your exterior siding and trim. Also you can caulk and add weatherstriping around the windows and exterior doors to prevent cold air from seeping in and warm air from escaping.
  6. Place outlet covers over your outlets to prevent cold air from seeping in. They are very cheap and can be found in the baby supply area of most stores such as Babies’r’us, Target, etc. You could also probably find them in the infant section at your local drug store.
  7. If you have a fire place or wood burning oven, stock up on some firewood in for those days and nights you prefer to heat your home with a nice toasty fire or in case the power goes out from a winter storm.
  8. Keep the doors to different rooms in the house closed so that those rooms can retain their heat, keeping you cozy and warm all winter long.
  9. Purchase warm sleep attire so you can stay warm at night without having to crank the thermostat. “Cranking” the thermostats all over Houston was one of the reasons for the power outages–

Good luck and stay warm!!!

Have Allergies in your Family? Or just want a Healthier Environment?

 

Have allergies in your family or just want a healthier environment?  Consider textiles that have the Oeko Tex rating.  They contain no allergenic dyestuffs or formaldehydes, are tested for pesticides and heavy metals, and have a “skin friendly” ph.  We are excited to now have a large selection of beautiful fabrics for all uses with this rating!

Why Good Lighting in your Home so Important, and How Easy is it to Improve Your Interior Lighting?

 

Are you building a new home or remodeling? Maybe you have already done so, have spent a lot of money, bought beautiful furnishings, and the space still doesn’t look as exciting or special as you expected? Perhaps it’s the lighting that is sadly inadequate or overlooked. Maybe the lighting hasn’t been given enough importance or thought, other than the bare essentials or “cookie-cuttered” plan. Nothing will look its best or function well without proper illumination. No colors or textures, finishes or fabrics will show how much time and care was spent in their selection without proper lighting, detailed planning, and utilization of the space.

NEW CONSTRUCTION

If you are building a new home, the possibilities are endless, but you need to know your options up front to plan and budget properly. Not only can you lay out a plan that is adequate for all functions, but it can also be aesthetically exciting and safe. First, how are you going to use the space, and what are you bringing to the space? For example, in what areas will you be playing, resting, reading, or working? These functions have different lighting requirements, not to mention higher levels of lighting required for all the areas for general cleaning. The important thing to remember is to control the lighting and vary the sources. Too much lighting is just as bad as too little, especially from onesource. With new construction, you can have more sophisticated controls. Direct wire or homeruns can be done and allow for technology that can integrate systems like media, telephones, security, window treatments, HVAC, etc, with the lighting. This allows you to create moods for a quiet evening at home, or for entertaining, by pressing a button. There will be less “wall acne” with fewer switches and yet complete control of your environment. These systems can be as simple or complex as you want.

REMODELING

Remodeling offers many of the same opportunities as new construction, but with some limitations depending on the extent of the remodeling. Maybe you can’t run homeruns for integrated systems, but a lot of the same results can be achieved with radio frequency controls. Often when remodeling you will be confronted with no perimeter lighting in a room, but perhaps only one overhead surface mount fixture or ceiling fan. Sometimes there is attic access, and putting in recessed cans and accent lighting is relatively easy; but often there is a second story and no access from above. In that situation, look for existing outlets that the electrician can fish from. Depending on their location, you may be able to install cans, but if not, maybe sconces are possible.

Another problem situation sometimes confronted in remodeling is in older high rises with concrete ceilings and no lights. How do you get any lighting from above for art or accenting walls or a special accessory on a table? Sometimes there is one overhead, and the rest of the area is dependent on table lamps. In this situation, you may use track lights or cable lighting and feed off the one overhead or from an existing outlet. Another solution is to run wiring and create a layered or decorative detailed ceiling with sheetrock that can cover the wiring.

EXISTING SPACE

What if your space has already been completed but needs help, or you bought a place with inadequate lighting and can’t afford to remodel it? Maybe you just hope to enhance or wake up your existing environment. Consider art lights that attach to your art or up lighting on a sculpture or a textured wall that can just be plugged in to existing outlets. Next, examine what kind of lamping is in your existing fixtures. Maybe they are not the right kind of color corrected lamps (bulbs) and are distorting the colors of your finishes and fabrics. For example, one client who wanted to renovate his kitchen because he hated the color of the cabinets, changed the lamping, and the cabinets took on a totally different color that worked with the other existing hard surfaces. Needless to say, there was no need to remodel.

You can also work off existing outlets and install sconces with wire covers. Evaluate the fixtures you have to see if perhaps the updating of a chandelier, entry fixture, or bathroom strip light would make your space more current and add more light. Then don’t forget that all rooms benefit from lighting controls. You may not have the budget for even the radio frequency systems, but it is not expensive or hard to install dimmers on your existing switches.

FOR EVERYONE

Finally, with all of these situations, everyone needs to consider green design. Choosing energy efficient lighting helps to save money and helps to save the environment. From something as simple as just changing light bulbs to installing solar panels, there are many options for green design. If you consider that 90 percent of the energy of a standard light bulb goes to heat, which then costs more to air condition the space, you may consider starting by replacing some areas such as kitchen, laundry, home office, etc. with CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs). Not only do they give off less heat, but they last as much as 10 times longer. Also, consider motion detectors, photo sensors, and timers.

If everyone replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than three million homes for a year and more than $600 million in annual energy costs. In addition, it would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars, according to the government’s Energy Star program. According to “Green Light”, if every household replaced five high-use light fixtures with energy efficient alternatives, it would keep more than one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, which is equal to the annual emission of a million cars. Plus, they use about 75 percent less energy, which saves on cooling. The spiral CFLs perform better in open fixtures like lamps, sconces, pendants, and outdoor fixtures, but for recessed fixtures, choose a reflector CFL, and if a dimmer is involved, look for those that specify that use. CFLs also have color variation from warm or soft white to a cool tone.

Solar lights are becoming more and more popular with an increasing number of choices. The sun contains 10,000 times the energy that humans consume yearly, and it has been predicted that in just two decades, solar can grow from currently producing one percent of the world’s energy to producing most of the energy we need. Solar lights are great for landscaping, lighting pathways, and for security. They absorb light during the day and don’t require any wiring or expense to run. Generally the brighter, larger lights are more expensive. However, be aware that a high qualitysolar light with good LEDs will producea beam of about 40W versus a standard 100W outdoor floodlight, but it is also free energy.

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) create light without the heat; they are bright and require far less electricity to operate, and usually last the life of the product. The Department of Energy estimates that LEDs could cut national energy consumption for lighting by 29 percent in 20 years. They last about 50 times as long as an incandescent bulb. Watch for these to become increasingly more available with more options. There is currently a national competition going on to attract viable replacements for 60W incandescent and PAR 38 halogen lamps.They will then be tested extensively with the hope of more energy efficient solutions within just a few years. So, stay tuned and do what you can in themeantime. Be enlightened!

If you have any questions or need any help with lighting plans, our Design Studio will be happy to give you a free consultation on improving your lighting! 713.803.4949 ext. 102

How has Interior Design Changed and Evolved over the Years in Houston?

 

I began DHI working alone as a designer, which honestly is not the best way to begin.  However, it worked for me at the time with small children.  As they grew up and I got busier with more work, I added office support, then design assistance, and more of both as needed.  After becoming frustrated with not being able to find enough unique product for clients, I began traveling and buying for them and eventually decided to open the Design House Showroom to make the collection available to others.  Since then the showroom has been expanded several times.  Next on the agenda, I hope to introduce some of our own lines.  We already customize a lot of the product we receive.

Design in Houston has always been exciting because it is such an international city, but this has of course been escalated by technology so that there is an immediate connection with the rest of the world, rather than waiting for it to filter down through fashion and imports or travel.  Global influences have always been there, but now are much more accessible – easily and instantly.  However, it does require a lot of evaluation, scrutiny and knowledge to sort out what is good and of value.

What is the Future of Interior Design in Houston?

 

The design culture in Houston is becoming EVEN more diversified, personalized, current, cutting edge, but still warm and inviting.  I don’t believe that other major Texas cities are that different, or for that matter, anywhere else.  It’s such a small, connected world today.  You still have to consider different climates, terrain, methods of construction, codes, etc., but it’s mainly the client and how the space will be used.  Individualism and comfort are key.  The use of green products has become more and more popular, lots of requests for reclaimed pieces too. But, in the future I believe there will be even more and more green and sustainable design.  I also think, and hope, we will build and design to last longer, with concern about what kind of footprint will be left behind, not be so disposable, and conserve our resources.

SHOWROOM UPDATE: Here is a glimpse of some of the showroom’s new year inventory showing the variety of upholstered pieces!…

king bed made with nailheads

Chic side/dining chair with neutral upholstry with nailhead trim

High Chic wing chair

rust leather and distressed white painted chair

handsome wing chair

What is the BIG difference in Paint Finishes?

 

After much deliberation, you finally select a paint color and then they want to know the finish! You probably all know about flat, eggshell and glossy finishes, but FYI there are some in between. Matte is between flat and eggshell and contains porcelain dust, which makes it easier to clean than flat paint. Pearl finish falls between eggshell and semi gloss and is great for bathrooms. Of course the more sheen, the easier to clean. Want to know more about paint selection or colors for the new year? Let us know and we will respond!

How is Sunbrella Fabric Like a Carrot and Crypton Like a Diaper?

 

And what about nanotechnology and permanent protection?  How exciting fabrics are becoming today!  Who wouldn’t want to have beautiful fabrics remain free of stains and fading.  So how do you get these and what do you ask for?

First, let’s make sure everyone knows about some of the different labels.  Most of you are familiar with the original Sunbrella “canvas look” for outdoor furniture and awnings, but now you can have much more than that, and for indoors as well.  Sunbrella is compared to a carrot because the color penetrates through the fabric and won’t fade or wash away since the color is added during production of the fiber.  Ordinary fabric is more like a radish because the color is added to the surface and only penetrates the outer layer and will wash or fade away over time.  When we demonstrate Sunbrella fabric in our showroom, we immerse it in bleach for a couple of days before the presentation with no reaction or fading of color..

In addition to the enduring color, durability and cleanability, this fabric now comes in luxurious textures and sophisticated patterns such as velvets, chenilles, rich jacquards, sheers, throws, etc.  It also feels good – soft, not stiff.   And all of this has a new five year warranty.

I’ve used Sunbrella here as a primary example because you are probably familiar with that brand, but there are other similar products.  Some fabrics that we carry in addition to Sunbrella, and I am most familiar with, are treated with Bella Dura, Terrazzo and Weatherwize.  They all can vary somewhat in the amount of double rubs, which is a way of measuring the amount of abrasion the fabric can take before showing wear, the mildew resistance, lightfastness and water repellency.  They are all stain resistant, can be cleaned with soap and water and are bleach cleanable for tough stains.  How great is that for indoors and out?  Now you can even use solids and light colors without the worry of staining.

Now, how is Crypton like a diaper?  The story is that the couple who created Crypton was shopping for diapers when they wondered “If they can do this with diapers, why can’t they do the same thing with fabrics?”  Crypton evolved into a high performance finish with extreme stain resistance, moisture barrier protection, bacteria and fungal resistance, odor resistance and superior durability and cleanability.  Originally it was popular for hospitals, hotels and restaurants, but now it is being used more and more in residential settings.  It is even in places like the White House and Buckingham Palace.

Crypton acts like a moisture barrier while still allowing ventilating air to pass through the fibers.  The barrier is permanently integrated into each fiber strand so that it won’t separate or fail because of heavy use or cleaning.  Because of this moisture barrier, the fabrics will resist stains.  The treatment also helps block the spread of harmful bacteria, viruses, mildew, mold and algae.  I should tell you that this treatment does stiffen the fabric a little, so use it in situations where that will not matter.  And also allow ventilation if necessary similar to what you would do with a leather or vinyl to let air escape when sitting.

Another product you should know about is one done with nanotechnology.  This is the process of working on the nano scale – each nano scale molecule is one million times smaller than a grain of sand.  It’s not only the size used, but also how those materials are engineered to perform specific functions.  Traditional coatings can make fabrics feel stiff and clog the weave of the fabric.  Using nanotechnology, the treatments are small enough to attach to the individual fibers without compromising the look or feel.  They will also perform the expected life of the fabric.  This Nanotex fabric treatment can not only treat for soil and stain, but also adds to the double rubs, sometimes even doubling the amount.

But what if you already have upholstered furniture, drapes or even carpeting that you would like to have protected, and insure that its life is not shortened by stains or fading? There is another product we have recently learned about which offers that and it can be sprayed on.  It has been used previously meeting FAA Regulations for aircraft interiors.  It offers permanent stain resistance and will survive many professional cleanings; permanent sun fade resistance, nearly 100% on most fabrics and carpet.  It won’t change the texture or color and seals all fabrics, even silk, leather, and carpets.  Additional benefits include a reduction in smoke density and flame spread, mildew resistance, and is non toxic and non allergenic,  It attaches to the fibers and the fabric does not have to be clean before applying. Also it does not damage the woodwork, paint, metal or glass in any surrounding areas with overspray. There is extensive research and testing continually with all such products since there are regulations to be met before 2010 and even more stringent ones for 2015.

So, no doubt technology will continue to improve and there will be even more exciting and healthy products for you in the future.  Meanwhile, the objective here is to make you aware of all the savvy solutions currently available and that you can have beautiful textures and patterns which are stain, mildew resistant and easy to clean and fade for both indoors and outdoors.  Just ask!

With and eye for the unique, Connie LeFevre, ASID, RID and her company, Design House, Inc. are noted throughout the community. With fresh design ideas and a medley of different items all over the showroom it is not hard to figure out why the company is so successful.  “I search the globe for one-of-a-kind items for my Houston showroom, Design House, Inc.” she said.  Among her finds are European antiques, art, accessories, lighting and custom pieces, which she uses to expertly dress spaces for discerning clients.  “One unusual piece can complete an entire setting, giving it personality and flair,” she said.

Combining three existing warehouses into one spacious showroom years ago has enabled the respected firm to expand their products and services, which benefits their clients as well as other designers.  Designers enjoy bringing their clients in to the showroom or taking items out to try in a space.  “Trying out a chair or seeing a piece of art before purchasing helps establish trust, and it also prevents errors,” Connie said.  The showroom is available to the public as well.  “They shop our showroom when looking for an exceptional piece with which to anchor their designs.  Because we find our selections worldwide they are unique and everyone is guaranteed something fresh and exciting,” LeFevre said.  Right now, the showroom is currently adding the second floor to increase their space an additional sixty five percent.  A demand to furnish everything from luxury homes to the more moderate, ranches and offices will hopefully be staved by the new space.

Design House’s design clients rely on LeFevre and her staff to compose creations that translates the client’s lifestyle needs in both a functional and aesthetic way.  “Design House is a full-service design firm with experience in new construction, remodeling, custom design, space-planning, lighting, material specification, purchasing and installation,” Connie explained.  “Regardless of the style—traditional, contemporary, transitional, etc.—my team listens carefully to our clients’ needs during conception and we partner with them throughout the entire process to ensure that their visions are realized.”

Connie, now a seasoned professional interior designer with 30 years’ experience began her trek towards her career as a student as the University of Louisiana.  After she married and moved to Houston, she enrolled at the University of Houston and received a fine arts degree in interior design.  “I’m an artist at heart,” the successful businesswoman said.

Today, Connie and her team of 9 full-time employees and several part-time employees—including a rotation of interns from the neighboring universities—tackle projects of all sizes.  In addition to incorporating unique elements to create individual designs, they rely on the latest technology to get the job done.  “Technology can be used creatively to produce special, unique, and exciting looks with sophisticated materials,” says LeFevre.  One project involved outfitting the ceiling of a seaside home with fiber optics to recreate an astronomically correct star chart.  By punching holes in the ceiling and installing “stars” made from bundles of fibers she simulated the night sky while eliminating the need for replacement bulbs in a hard to reach area.

Innovations like this one contributed to the Design Times’ declaration that Connie is one of the “10 Designers to Watch”.  Connie is quick to give credit to her supportive staff.  “We are a team that works together to efficiently and effectively serve our clients.”  This approach has led to numerous accolades by industry organizations and features in national and local publications.

Connie looks for opportunities to give back to the industry that she’s enjoyed so much.  She is a former president of the ASID Texas Gulf Coast Chapter and the former vice president and board member or TAID.  Her active involvement in these groups has contributed to her achievements, which, in turn, have led to a loyal following.  “My staff and I are blessed with extraordinary clients who trust us to deliver personalized designs that are functional and aesthetically pleasing,” LeFevre said.  “We consider a project successful when our clients declare that we provided the right solutions to their design challenges.”