Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019

I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology has made them so much more interesting and better.  I still find the hunt and curating exciting because I always see new and improved items to make your design projects interesting and updated.

Back in Black

This market, the dramatic black color came back and was popular everywhere.  There were black and white and black and gold items galore, in accessories, art, lighting and furniture.  The black and whites were also evident in the tribal look with Moroccan style rugs, which brings up another big influence this market – tribal. 

Nature Calls

The animals continued to run wild at market, and were just part of the landscape, as in nature.  They have almost become a neutral blending into the landscape.  Many more examples of nature were present as well.  Lots of wovens on natural products were found just about everywhere.  There were items made of wicker, rattan, cane, rope, hemp and sisal.  Also, another natural material that continued everywhere was the use of minerals and stones.  I saw lots of feathers used on accessories and even lamps!  Sometimes the feathers were fun, but in other instances, they created a look like that of a plucked chicken.

Knock on Wood

Just about every manufacturer showed a lot of light woods, but the dark ones are also coming in stronger than previously, so a little of something for everyone.  No matter what the wood or material, I was struck by the abundance of large scale coffee tables: a dramatic, strong accent and anchor to a room.  In addition to this, there continued to be combinations of materials – wood, acrylic, metal, concrete and glass, keeping things mixed and different.

Neutral Still Reigns Supreme

There were some bright, colorful fabrics and I noted a lot of blues and greens, but the neutrals were still king.  Fabrics tended toward texture, as they did last market, and there were more performance fabrics available from the manufacturers.  The fabrics had a nice hand or feel and the manufacturers are finally providing enough variety and choices to meet all needs, with easy upkeep, whether it’s for children, pets or red wine.  These upholstered pieces are continuing to provide more motion, from swivels to a sectional with six or eight recliners in it!

Green and Blue Make Strong Statements

Green and blue have been hot colors in the past but this year they were more prevalent in all kinds of shades and tones.  I saw them used in bedding, wallpaper, accessories, sofas, and chairs.  Both colors invoke a calmness in any setting and gentlely welcome you into the space.  They was everywhere and they make the perfect accent colors for any room!

I’m betting that with Houston being the most diversified city in the country we will find the perfect setting for all of the above! Some of these trends have already started to arrive in our interior design showroom in Houston, TX.  If you need assistance incorporating these designs into your home please contact our interior design studio to arrange a consultation to start living in the space your deserve!

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Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

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Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

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Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

It’s been almost nine years since I first wrote about performance fabrics and bringing them inside from their common use outdoors.  My blog back then was about Sunbrella and nanotech technology and how you could have kids, pets and even drink red wine, and still be able to have light colored upholstery!   Slowly manufacturers started offering it on their upholstered pieces and we didn’t have to order COM (customer’s own material) to have a sofa or chair made with performance fabric.  As the word about performance fabrics has gotten out, and the demand stronger, many more brands of these have come on the market and the options are really exciting and diverse.  However, this can all be confusing because the fabrics have different benefits and attributes so you have to decide how you are going to use them.

Woven for Texture

The performance fabrics available now are no longer flat colors but have mixed weaves to create texture.  There is a handcrafted artistry look that is tactile and visual, as well as boucles, jacquards, chenilles, velvets and outdoor leathers for texture, and patterns of all sorts that offer beauty, comfort and durability.  The fabrics can now be moisture wicking, antimicrobial, anti-odor, quick dry, antistatic, wrinkle resistant, self-cleaning, flame retardant and even have protection from ticks and mosquitos.

Traits to Choose From

So where do you start and how do you decide which one to choose, other than just the color and texture?  You need to know more than just “it’s a performance fabric.”  Each one will have different benefits and attributes, as previously mentioned, so you have to decide where they are going to be used: indoors, outdoors in the sun or even indoors in windows which receive a lot of sunlight.  Next, ask yourself, are you using them for upholstery or window coverings?  Look at some of the possible traits:

  • Stain Resistant
  • UV & Fade Resistant
  • Durability/Abrasion Rating/Double Rubs
  • Mold & Mildew Resistant
  • Bleach Cleanable 
  • Odor Resistant
  • Solution Dyed
  • Breathable
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Various Warranties 

Fabrics for the Outdoors

We all expect the stain resistance from performance fabrics, but a select few will have UVA resistance that is perfect for us where there is sun exposure, inside or out.  The double rubs (amount of wear) will vary from maybe 12,000 – 15,000 count on some Sunbrella fabrics, but can go up to 100,000, or even more, with other brands.  You may also want to inquire about pilling (small balls of fiber on the fabric surface) on some fabrics.  Solution dyed usually indicates you can use bleach because the yarns were dyed before the manufacturing.  Breathability can be important if you are upholstering something and have to incorporate a vent for air to go out when you sit, like on a bench.  Mold and mildew can grow on fabrics if you do not keep the dirt and soil removed from them because leaving it there is what allows this to happen.  Some performance fabrics do have the mold/mildew resistance attribute to alleviate this issue.

Cleaning Your Fabric

Let’s talk about how to clean performance fabrics.  Remove any debris first and don’t let it stay on the fabric for a long time.  Don’t ignore it and think you will get back to it later.  You should apply clean water and blot it, but don’t rub it.  Next, you can wash the fabric with soap and water and blot it again.  This should do a sufficient job cleaning the fabric.  It’s possible that you could still have something visible on it.  I did when some raccoons got into our outdoor fireplace and partied with soot all over their feet on some red Sunbrella cushions.  When I washed them in soap and water there were still some little black spots leftover from the footprints.  I took a Q-tip and applied some bleach to the spots and they disappeared with no difference in the red color.  I did rinse it so not to leave the bleach on the fabric forever.  Another story I have is about a client whose engineer husband didn’t believe what we said about the performance fabric we were recommending for their sofas.  He applied mustard to the sample and his wife wiped it off with a damp cloth.  She brought it back clean, although the paper it was attached to was yellow.  It’s always best to check with the manufacturer, though, just in case.

Available Fabric Types

Due to the growing popularity of these forgiving fabrics, whether you have pets, children, love red wine or just want to have that white seating without the worry that someone might spill something, make your life a lot easier and check out what is currently available.  The list has grown from the few fabrics available when I did the first blog to now, and I’m sure there will be more and more than the list I will supply you below; but at least this shows you many options to look into.  Most of these are available, either as cut yardage through Fabric House, or from upholstery lines at Design House.  So here’s to happy, more carefree living for you!

  • Alfresco
  • Alta
  • Bella Dura
  • Brisa
  • B/Strong
  • Convington
  • Crypton
  • Endurosilk
  • FibreGuard
  • Inside Out
  • Live Smart
  • Metallic
  • Nanotech
  • Never Fear
  • Novasuede
  • Nu Leather
  • Outdura
  • Para Tempotest
  • Performance by Regal
  • Performance Leather
  • Powered by Crypton-Leather
  • Revolution
  • Solarium
  • Sta Kleen
  • Sunbelievable
  • Sunbrella
  • Ultra Fabrics

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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:

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

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Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

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Remodel & Home Additions

Design Trends for 2019

If you are about to remodel or build onto your house, here are some of the current trends to consider, whether working on your kitchen, bathroom, living space, laundry room, or outdoor area.

Kitchens

Everyone always refers to the kitchen as “the heart of the house”, so what is the latest and most desirable for this area? Since it is where everyone tends to hang out, we want it to be beautiful, but we all know this area can be messy!

Consider building in the hidden kitchen or dirty pantry. This can be a bonus kitchen, sometimes called the catering kitchen, or a pantry with appliances that cause clutter for items like the toaster, juicer, coffee machine, and perhaps a sink. Often times an additional dishwasher will be here, too. Smart appliances which are user friendly with apps to control them are abundant, even from a distance. 

Also, consider more color in at least some of the cabinet finishes, or tile. Don’t remain locked in to the white, which has been so popular or white marble, which is hard to maintain. There are so many surface products available now that are handsome, easy to maintain, and also available in larger sizes for those extra-large islands to not have seams. Lighting fixture finishes are more into soft, matte brass, nickel, black, and some copper; but there are a lot of uses for mixed metals.

Bathrooms

Health and wellness is essential here.  The bathroom should not only be beautiful, a retreat or sanctuary, but safe for all ages.  If possible, one bath in the home, or preferably all, should have large enough openings to accommodate someone who might have to be temporarily in a wheelchair or walker.  This is not to suggest meeting ADA code with all of the requirements, but simply have doors at a minimum of 32”, and block inside walls when you are under construction, to be able to add a grab bar later, if needed.  You can at least have assisted use bathrooms, even if you don’t have a 5’ turning radius.

Of course, the master bath is becoming more of a spa with temperature controlled showers, a place to sit, and multiple sprays.  People want larger showers and often a roll in shower with no curb around it.  This has to be planned in the construction stage with a slight slope and preferably a vertical drain.  Free standing tubs are kind of the art for the room.  They’re beautiful, but recognize that they cannot be used by some, as they can be difficult to navigate getting in and out of.  Technology keeps adding many new options with cryotherapy, hidden speakers and TV, touch or motion faucets, 3-D printed faucets, and even a new concrete faucet!  As in all rooms, lighting is so important, but especially here where you will be shaving and applying makeup.  Please don’t have the lighting just shining down on your head.  This is the worst application!  The best situation is to have lighting from sconces at about 6’ high, and then additional lighting from the ceiling behind you but not over you.

Living Spaces

Automation for the home continues to grow.  In 2018, 643 million smart home devices were purchased, but by 2022, it is estimated that number will be 53 billion, so include this in your plans.

Everyone wants and should be able to control their AV, lighting, and security from their smart phone, so plan for this. Put in combination USB/electrical outlets in all places you may be working for charging, add a central charging station, and maybe, consider adding an automobile charging plug in the garage also. Do your wiring now while under construction. Put in proper wiring for adequate lighting for different uses – ambient, task and general. Also, consider wiring for those automated window treatments, especially for the high ceilings and sound throughout the house.

Outdoors

Make your outdoor living a year round experience and an extension of the house. For that year round usage, provide for heaters to use on those cool days or nights and fans or misters for the warm ones. Automatic screening for porches or motorized shades to protect them from insects is great for Houston.

Consider a fire pit or fireplace and an outdoor cooking area. Artificial turf is becoming more and more popular, and while it costs a little more initially, the benefits of the low maintenance will make it worth it, if you don’t have too much area to cover.

Laundry Rooms

Don’t forget the pets! More often than not we are including pet accommodations in the utility rooms. This can include kennels built into the lower cabinets, a shower or large sink for bathing, depending on the size of the pet, and built in storage for the pet feeding bowls. Recently, we also stashed kitty litter boxes behind a wall in the laundry to keep them out of site. This is one room that is normally not on the house tour, so use it to help you keep things in order.

Other posts you may also be interested in:

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

read more
Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

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read more
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Shower or Tub???

OK, it’s time for me to eat my words again, or maybe just issue a change in opinion about showers vs. tubs. Most people have a very definite preference, and when we are working on projects we have to determine those preferences. For resale, we always make sure, even if the client is a professed shower lover, that there is also a tub or at least one in a secondary bath for children. More often there will be at least a tub/shower combo in one secondary bathroom, and perhaps the others can have showers – whatever the owner prefers, but with resale in mind.

I was one of those who hated the bathtub. I rebelled against the old jet tubs because they would not completely drain out all of the water and would leave about a cup of nasty water retained in the lines. When the air jets came out they were nice and clean, not holding the dirty water, but they were sort of fluffy, without the massaging action. On the plus side, you could use more bath products in those tubs than you could in the jet tubs. Then the popularity of the freestanding tub, and soaking tub, became the rage, and really still is. They are pretty to look at, and photograph, but dangerous for many to enter, and therefore essentially just for looks.

So, why do so many people dislike tubs and prefer showers?

The main reason, I think, is because we feel they are faster, and with our hurried lifestyles, we think we don’t have time for a leisurely soak. Honestly, when I think about it, I take just as long for a shower because the hot water is relaxing and I don’t want to get out. It makes me feel better and sleep better. Supposedly it’s a fact that the raised body temperature from a hot shower or bath lets your body do its normal cooling that happens after you go to bed and it is good to have that warm experience before sleep. I think another reason some of us don’t like the tub as much is also because the water gets cold and you have to constantly adjust it by adding more hot water. If you have to be monitoring and working to keep the temperature, that is not fun or relaxing. 

Photo: Aquatica

But wait! The reason I am changing my thoughts about tub bathing is the new technology – hydrothermal therapy! It will keep your water hot so you can relax. Also, the new jets, like the Shiatsu massage for your back, and even a wrist jet (for too many hours on the computer), make your time in the tub worthwhile since you also get the added benefits of a massage. Plus, the dirty water retention problem has been corrected by redirecting the angle of the jets. You can also use all kinds of bath products in it, even oils. Wait until you hear about the indulge therapy that oxygenates your skin with a microbubbles system, cleaning it without soap! Supposedly it increases collagen, so BRING IT ON!

I recognize we have been doing body sprays in showers for a good while and they do a type of massage, but it seems fewer clients want those, and instead prefer a good spray head, sometimes also a rain head, and a handheld. The beauty of these has been that they are thermal controlled and maintain the temperature. It might be nice to have all of that and more, and be able to sit and relax in a tub, with added relaxation techniques. If you are still a lover of the freestanding tub, without the jets, just for soaking and relaxing, you can have it with the hydrothermal addition to enjoy a soak that stays warm.

Now all I need is a place to put it in!

Other posts you may also be interested in:

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

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Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

read more
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Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric It’s been almost nine years since I first wrote about performance fabrics and bringing them inside from their common use outdoors.  My blog back then was about Sunbrella and nanotech technology and how you could have kids, pets...

read more
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The End of Harvey

This blog post is a follow-up to The YEAR of Harvey.

Many of you have been so kind as to inquire about how and what we’ve been doing since Harvey. Thus, I feel the need to write the end of the Harvey story, even though I rarely post personally. We expect to close on the sale of our property at the end of this month and move on. I loved our property that we are now selling to another family with children to enjoy very much, and I am grateful for the time it was ours. I planted so much on that acre in Memorial for many years.

When I was at our deserted house recently, finishing clearing out some items stored upstairs and in the mucked out garage, I discovered my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow shrub, happily blooming, even after being underwater for more than a week! Of course, the botanical name is Brunfelsia Pauciflora, but that’s not as meaningful or memorable to me.

There was something symbolic about this plant showing all its colors of blooms that occur yesterday, today and tomorrow, as they change colors with each day; hence the name.  My yesterdays of forty years were pretty wonderful with our children and grandchildren growing up there playing on the creek and property, and enjoying life in the city with a taste of the country.  Also had a peacock come strolling through while I was there to remind me of all the wildlife we experienced, and there are many more stories about that!

I imagined the today to be the current situation of Harvey, but dragged out for a year and a half, after destroying the collectibles, treasures, and accumulation of all of those years. I know there are many others still trying to decide what to do or even still trying to get settled back into their homes. We still see evidence all around the city with some vacant, scraped lots, some still sitting homes, and many under construction, but elevated.

Finally, tomorrow is what is to come as we close this chapter. Many people were affected not only physically, but also psychologically, and I know that is hard. I prefer to imagine the future as full of hope, surprises and possibly new adventures; although if I am honest, there are moments when that is rather difficult. Thanks to friends and family, those times are fewer and fewer, and I am optimistic about a great future!

Other posts you may also be interested in:

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

read more
Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric It’s been almost nine years since I first wrote about performance fabrics and bringing them inside from their common use outdoors.  My blog back then was about Sunbrella and nanotech technology and how you could have kids, pets...

read more
Modern Wallpaper / Wallcoverings – Types and Where to Use

Modern Wallpaper / Wallcoverings – Types and Where to Use

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...

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Furniture In Motion

 

 

Would you believe that over half of the furniture being produced today is equipped with motion capabilities? Even though I see so many options, I still find that surprising. However, when you think about how many items do have the motion capacity currently, that statistic shouldn’t really come as much of a shock.

Swivel vs. Recliners

Most of the inquiries we get now, here at Design House, for comfortable lounge chairs, have the added request that they be swivel, swivel/glide, and sometimes recline as well. The swivel chair is extremely important and useful to allow you to turn to the TV, conversation, or view. In the past, I considered that the worst piece of furniture was the dreaded recliner, but today you don’t have to have that heavy, bulky, bustle back recliner. Now they can look like a regular chair, be upholstered in a beautiful fabric or nice leather, and be customized as you prefer. You can select the size, arm, leg, etc, and they are much more high style and slender in profile; plus, the motion is greatly improved. Sometimes the old, bulky ones were really hard to “kick back” in, especially for the more petite person or the elderly. Today, there are a variety of electronic controls and battery operated when there is no way to plug it in. Additionally, you can have them swivel and glide like the popular lounge chair request. One word of caution though, if the chair is for someone older, or someone a little unstable for some reason, the glide might be a challenge for them having the movement possible as they sit. Recliners can be good not only for relaxing purposes, but also as the perfect solution for someone recuperating just after surgery. 

Black Recliner (Closed)
Black Recliner (Open)

Motion in Bedrooms

Bedrooms are another place where motion furniture is really growing with the adjustable beds becoming so popular. Again, this can be a health benefit for someone with a gastric problem or recuperating with the need to be elevated. There are many ways of hiding a bed that pulls out of a cabinet, or a wall, or even lifts into a dropped ceiling. Now, there are also movable closets that will close up when not needed, but become a walk-in closet when opened. 

Black Recliner (Open)
Black Recliner (Open)
Black Recliner (Open)
Black Recliner (Closed)
Black Recliner (Open)

Moving Work Stations

In the office, motion furniture has always been used for the desk chair, but now many people prefer the stand/sit desk that is so highly touted as better for your health, allowing you to continue working standing or sitting. The adjustable height can also be incorporated into work stations where even the stations themselves and files may be portable and movable. Work tables may not only adjust in height, but also tilt and be a white board for meeting presentations.

Look for many more options to come in furniture movement, with the addition of voice activation, as the industry works to make pieces adjust to different demands, locations, and smaller spaces!

Other posts you may also be interested in:

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends From High Point Market Fall 2019

Inspiring Interior Trends from High Point Market Fall 2019 I’ve been walking a large part of the 12 million sq. ft. of interior design showrooms at High Point market twice a year for many years.  I’ve seen lots of products come and go and come again, but technology...

read more
Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric

Picking the Perfect Performance Fabric It’s been almost nine years since I first wrote about performance fabrics and bringing them inside from their common use outdoors.  My blog back then was about Sunbrella and nanotech technology and how you could have kids, pets...

read more
Modern Wallpaper / Wallcoverings – Types and Where to Use

Modern Wallpaper / Wallcoverings – Types and Where to Use

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...

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What Will 2019 Bring to Interior Design?

Can you believe it is 2019 already? 

I hope you enjoyed the holidays and family, but now that you have taken down the holiday decorations, is your home looking a little tired and needy? We all look for that fresh start for the New Year and make our resolutions, typically about how we can improve ourselves, but let’s think about the environment that you spend so much time in and how it can affect your happiness and health! Below are some predictions for what’s coming design wise in 2019.

Color

Of course the Colors of the Year have been revealed, which you may have already seen, and those are always interesting, but please make the space you live in yours and not dictated by these predictions, unless you absolutely love them and they suit your environment. A home should reflect who you are and how you live, so surely it has to be personalized. Of interest though, are Pantone’s Living Coral- with the warmth of nature, Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan- a calming gray, Sherwin Williams’ Cavern Clay- another color of nature, and Behr’s Blueprint- a mid-tone blue. These are some of the most well-known sources, but many other manufacturers are coming up with their own Color of the Year. As for the most immediate facelift of your home, nothing can beat paint! Remember, for an allergy free experience, look at the zero VOC paints.

For furnishings, you can expect to see a neutral palette that is not as gray as the long standing previous trend, but more toward light sand, or warmer gray, and even tinted pastels. Also popping up are the bold colors, from ethnic to neon, much like the fashion industry. Black and white, with its combination creating both balance and boldness, will continue to be a good pairing. It is reported that there are more charcoal or versions-of-black kitchens being ordered now as well.

Pantone – Living Color

Sherwin Williams – Cavern Clay

Benjamin Moore – Metropolitan

Behr – Blueprint

Texture

People are loving the feel and warmth, emotionally and physically, of textures in their environments, from floor carpets, to the seating, bedding and soft throws. Velvets continue to be strong, especially now that technology has made them more practical, with great abrasion resistance and cleanability. They now can be used in luxurious and elegant settings when they are made with a silk or linen fiber. Many new performance fabric versions are family friendly and thus suitable for areas with heavier use, perhaps among children and pets.

Thibaut Pasadena Chair

Layered Look

Patterns

You may be surprised, and may not agree, but florals, botanicals and chintz are back! They are being layered with different patterns in rooms, much as fashion is doing with clothing. This can move more toward the maximalism trend with lots of different mismatched fabrics.  Also watch for the shell and scallop shapes which will be seen in furniture, accessories and wallcovering.  And don’t forget about wallcovering for a dramic addition to your home, on the walls, the ceiling, as a furniture finish, or even risers on steps, of course with protective coating.

Thibaut – Sunburst Wallpaper

Wallquest – The Woodlands Collection Wallpaper

Mixed Metals

The use of mixed metals, that has become so popular, continues, but gold, copper, matte brass and black will dominate the new scene. Pewter and gunmetal may be a little softer look.   Imagine the charcoal cabinets with the brass and copper as fixtures and a sink – definitely a dramatic look! Of course, the mixed metals are to be found in abundance in lighting and accessories, but they can even be found on a complete console and lots of chairs and furniture accents.

Currey and Company

Technology

Technology is affecting all of our products and the way we use our spaces. The connected home is now so much more available and inexpensive. We have had integrated systems that allow you to control the window coverings, fireplace, lighting, entertainment, etc. for a while (and some are very elaborate in what all they can do) but now, even something as affordable as Amazon Echo and Google Home (which are rapidly adding to their commands) are more reasonably accessible and can be taken with you when you move. In 2016, there were 80 million smart home devices purchased and it is predicted that the number will reach more than 53 billion by 2022.  Voice interaction will take over for all those remotes.

Kitchens and bathrooms are areas with many exciting new options to simplify your life, and the controls are becoming more intuitive and easy to use. There are innovative 3D faucets that make you wonder how the water got there with all the openings! Look for the volcanic lava stone and great concrete tiles that have been developed for the kitchen and bath. There are way too many to write about here, so get with your designer before you start remodeling or building those new spaces!

More new designs of architectural robotics furniture pieces will become available, like the Cloud Bed, that can be raised and lowered from an integrated dropped ceiling.  When raised, there is a sofa and coffee table underneath that becomes your study or living area. The sofa’s back is the bed’s headboard and the coffee table supports the bed’s frame. Also, check out the pocket closet which doubles your storage space in tiny areas.  When I was recently in Spain, a manufacturer showed us the prototype chair for offices that will tell you when you are slouching, including anything that might be detrimental, and when it is time for you to get up and move, or elevate your sit/stand desk.

Sofa and Coffee Table Set Up

Down as Bed

Sustainability

Sustainable products will grow more in what is now available and the demand for them.  Perhaps it is just up-cycling an old piece of furniture or accessory with a coat of bright paint, to make a real standout, fun, accent piece, or making more conscious decisions about where the product comes from, and whether it can be recycled. You can look for vegan furniture, also.  How about a corrugated cardboard bed made by Happy Beds?

Image by In My Own Style

Image by In My Own Style

Vegan Bed

Miscellaneous

I would add that I think we will see more curved furniture and vintage and artisan pieces.  Also, there seems to be more requests for a little more traditional, or “brown” furniture to mix in, but then, at Design House, we always strive to have a variety of curated selections from various periods and origins on our floor, and certainly available for sourcing and order.  Additionally, we have numerous lines we can help the customer create their own custom pieces with. So, let’s all get busy giving our interiors a fresh start, as well as ourselves!

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2018 Holiday Tabletops – A Texas Christmas and Baccarat’s Table

 

Design House was so honored to host Baccarat, the renowned French manufacturer of fine crystal, with their own tabletop this year, which also revealed their fall collection. The President, Jim Shreve, was present to talk with everyone about the glamorous silver and crystal table. His goal is for people to use it every day and not just put it on display. To make that task easier, he explained how you can put the crystal in the dishwasher. The secret is to not let the pieces touch because this can cause chipping.  Shreve also advised using a dishwashing detergent that does not have any citrus added since this causes etching.

Among the oh-so-many beautiful pieces they introduced was a greyhound dog and a cat. These approximately two feet tall items looked almost like ice sculptures. Another interesting item was the acrylic plateau box used to elevate the dog and a huge vase. The interior of the box was filled with broken Baccarat pieces from the Baccarat Hotel in New York. These pieces were discovered in storage bins in the back of the hotel. I guess they just couldn’t put the broken pieces in the dumpster! Thankfully they kept them to be repurposed and recycled into beautiful plateaus.

The Design House 2018 Holiday Tabletop

Most people, when doing their tabletops, will probably do as we have to do in our showroom – use what you have to begin with. We used what table and chairs we had in stock, and combined the best suited lighting we had to start. This year with our theme, we ordered some fabric with a magnolia design to make slipcovers for some existing host and hostess chairs from our LeFevre collection. The most appropriate table we had was long, but not really wide, so the centerpiece needed to be narrow, but dramatic. The first thought we had was to use an antique trough that was carved out of a tree trunk to hold a lush display of florals down the center of the table. Well, this perfect trough was too long, and we couldn’t find another trough narrow enough to use, so we used a gutter with end caps, made to size. You could say our showroom went from Baccarat to the gutter! The gutter was filled with oasis floral foam and covered with moss to hold the maximum amount of florals. Then, we were off to the cooler to see what florals were available, along with another trip to prune some magnolia trees!

 

We hung lots of fresh mixed garland on the chandelier and mantle to pop the green magnolia leaves in the fabric. Of course, we had to add a few magnolia leaves, berries and pomegranates, along with the galvanized and painted deer walking out of the landscape painting above it. For the centerpiece (the gutter), we used red roses, white ranunculus, dusty miller, thistle, camellia foliage and ilex berries. The berries on the fireplace were toyon berries.

The place settings were anchored by the galvanized metal chargers, and layered with Green Ivy ceramic dinner plates, which were topped with the vintage white Limoges small plates. The Haussmann trunk flatware seemed the perfect complement with the branch design and the antique Green Thumbprint stemware picked up on the green plates.  We also added some handcrafted Italian pewter and glass stemware for the mix, and finally, the napkins were custom made with Ralph Lauren plaid from Fabric House.

We hope you visited the 2018 Holiday Tabletops, but if you were unable to make it, we hope you enjoy our posts and plan to make it out next year!

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Ten Award Winning Holiday Tablescapes

The holidays are stressful enough with finding the perfect gifts, decorating the house and cooking for a crowd, but when you add all of the fabulous Pinterest and Instagram posts, it is enough to make anyone feel inadequate. Well, we are here to show you our past ten years of award winning holiday tablescapes, that includes Best of Show, Best Floral, Best Theme, and People’s Choice; and give you tips on how you can create this kind of look in your home.

1) 2008 Design House Deck the Table

For the first year of holiday table tops in our showroom, we started small and easy enough for anyone to do. As throughout the ten years of doing Christmas tables, we start with what is currently in the showroom, just as you might in your home. Mixed silver goblets, wine glasses, china and flatware from home made contributions to this first table. Natural greens, along with limes and floral arrangements made this a fragrant, comfortable and easy set up.

2) 2009 Design House Deck the Table

2009 Design House Deck the Table

We added a touch of elegance to the room with fresh evergreens on the table, chandelier, and potted paper whites. The aroma alone will capture your guests’ attention and provide them with holiday spirit. Note that when you are working with fresh greenery or florals, you can add some artificial pieces and somehow the fresh ones make them work! We added the artificial magnolia here. Sometimes we will start with a base of artificial garland and add fresh greens, berries, or whatever you have.

3) 2010 Design House Deck the Table

Go bold! Don’t be afraid to add an element of surprise to a room. For this table setting we had just discovered some vintage metal Chippendale chairs in a warehouse and bought them for Design House. That was our start. There is always something we discover or have in our showroom that gives us the inspiration. We contrasted the metal chairs and silver in the settings with the custom branch chandelier and rustic wood table. This rustic branches balance the elegant table settings here to keep the environment casual and lively.

4) 2011 Design House Deck the Table

2011 Design House Deck the Table

Your holiday table does not always need to be the total focus of attention. For example, the mirror in this space compliments the table and draws the eyes across the space to the far wall. The evergreens that flank the buffet add balance to the wall and an accent color, which is mimicked on the reclaimed wood table bringing the eye back to the center of the room and straight to these vintage lantern chandeliers from a French residence in Egypt. The lantern theme was continued on the tabletop, and vintage Christmas plates were used that year. The only chairs we had available needed a little help for Christmas, so we made some simple, short and sassy slipcovers.

5) 2012 Deign House Deck the Table

2012 Deign House Deck the Table

This table gives the room a casual elegance by using a simple color scheme of white and green. These earthy holiday colors and materials give a natural look to your tabletop. The crisp white napkins and dinner plates soften the zinc table while the glass angels on each place setting are part of the angel theme, with the white cast angels, by a local artist, on the buffet. The angels also add to the artisan feel of the space when combined with the zinc tabletop. All of this is topped and really made more dramatic with the glitzy vintage crystal chandelier. The eclectic and wide range of pieces mixed together help to create holiday glam and a festive setting for a simple, rustic table.

6) 2013 Design House Deck the Tables

2013 Design House Deck the Tables

We had a little fun with this one by opening the metal doors to our storeroom, filling in the space with some old doors from our showroom and lighting some branches behind the doors like lit outdoor trees. Here we used vintage Limoges china and Christofle Malmaison flatware with a luxurious Niermann Weeks chandelier topped with a ceiling of branches above to add a touch of whimsy. By placing some fresh fruit, herbs and greens around the table and chandelier you create a faint aroma that compliments the meal and is pleasing to the eye.

7) 2014 Design House Deck the Tables

2014 Design House Deck the Tables

The location of this year’s table in front of the animal print wallpaper made it easy to create a festive spirit. Simple floating stars in this “Starry Night” theme had lights directed toward them to sparkle. The three panel antique mirrors and wreaths with lights make the room feel larger and continue to reflect the sparkle of the stars and mercury glass. By adding custom name cards under glass domes your guest will feel extra special. These continued the “star” theme and a little whimsy with names of famous movie stars on them for our event.

8) 2015 Design House Deck the Table

2015 Design House Deck the Table

Let your furniture dictate your tablescape. This live edge table with a stainless steel branch base just screamed organic design for the décor. That was achieved with lots of greenery to compliment the wood table top, while the chairs pick up on the metal base, along with the silver goblets and flatware that was silver and wood. The greenery on the table was also frosted, adding to the winter wonderland feel.

9) 2016 Design House Deck the Tables

2016 Design House Deck the Tables

This woodlands theme began with the deer we had just received and also the chairs with the goatskin seats and natural wood. The forest is not only depicted by them, but also the “stream” that runs down the middle of the table. This was done with a fabulous Waterford linear piece that allowed us to lay florals and greening flowing out of it and down the table. This stream continued down the ends of the table to the floor. Pomegranates and oranges were used throughout the greenery to compliment the beautiful Limoges china.

10) 2017 Design House Deck the Table

2017 Design House Deck the Table

I bet you can guess that the fabulous chandelier we had just received was the start of this table. This icy, crystal winter wonderland was accented with the acrylic chairs and they allowed us to show the hide rug anchoring the setting. We did make them a little warmer with the addition of small wreaths we made from the greenery used on the table. Additional warmth was suggested with the inclusion of many candles featured on slices of wood, and what great improvement with the fake candles! People would have to touch them to make sure they were not real. The new green and white Limoges china was the perfect complement to the setting.

We hope these examples will encourage you to take a closer look around your spaces, get those creative juices flowing, and use what you have as a start. Be sure to stop by Design House in The Houston Design Center during the first week of December to see what we’ve come up with this year! We are excited to announce that Baccarat will be creating a table in our showroom this year, and we can’t wait for everyone to have a chance to see their wonderful selections!

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Interior Design Inspiration from Valencia

The invitation to visit Spain for a week to meet with manufacturers and learn about new products proved to be rewarding in many ways! Not only did we get to meet with a wide variety of vendors, as you will see from the photos, and be introduced to a new part of Spain, but I also learned more about the culture and met so many great people. They were very kind to someone who hasn’t practiced what little Spanish was learned back in the dark ages in school. The one thing I did find hard was the schedule they keep with the restaurants open for lunch only from 1:30 to 4:00, and not open for dinner until 8:30, thus eating at 9:00 or 10:00 for dinner is common. However, one plus was the inexpensive cost of wine, which accompanies those meals.

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

Valencia is a major manufacturing area of Spain, and also the largest grower of orange trees.  It is also a beautiful city with fabulous architecture and lots of history.  There are many new exciting buildings in their cultural area, you will see everything from Romanesque to Modernist facades. Houston should take note that after Valencia flooded in the late 1950s, they did a really smart thing by diverting the Turia River, which divided the city; the old riverbed is now a beautiful, very well used and most enjoyed park area for residents and visitors.

Furniture Designs

Office Furniture

Office Guest Chair
Office Lounge Chairs
Modular Seating

Indoor/Outdoor Furniture

Festive and Fun Indoor Outdoor
Be the Star in the pool or out
Lounge in comfort in or out of the pool

Lighting

Whimsical Fairy Chandelier
Elegantly Classic Chandelier
Modern LED Lighting

Bathroom Fixtures

bathroom sink
bathroom fixture

The products we saw included lighting and furniture in varying styles for both residential and commercial by many talented artisans with the ability to customize. We will be featuring them, and the city of Valencia, in the photos we want to share with you; so please let us hear back with your thoughts and what you would like to see at our Design House showroom!

Hasta luego,
Connie

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High Point Market (Fall 2018): Trends Continued

The climate of our society today and our hectic lives, along with increasing technology, makes us yearn for simpler times and quiet comfort.  However, we still take advantage of technology that offers us products to make our lives easier and more comfortable.  As we often bring back previous designs with a cleaner look and more appropriate scale, we also, in wishing for those more simple times, appreciate the modern conveniences that make our days more comfortable.

We anxiously wait for what’s new and next, so here’s my take on what I saw and want to share from this fall’s High Point Market.

The warm metallic colors continued, along with minerals, used as accessories, art, lighting and furniture.  Stone and concrete were also abundant, both indoors and outdoors, on furniture and accessories, and mixed with both metals and wood.

Texture was also evident in the many uses of rope and woven accessories and furniture.  You will see examples of ottomans, chairs, accent usage with other materials on furniture, light fixtures and even planters that look like rope, but were concrete.

There was a strong use of black, mixed with white or natural, and also gold tones.  This could be seen as accents in all phases of production.  There were pops of reds, greens, and of course lots of blues in varying shades, with probably the most dominant blue being in the cobalt range.

An interesting technique used on some furniture pieces was pleating around the backs of upholstered chairs or sofas, and even on wood pieces. Of course, various forms of tufting were still popular. There were various examples of curved pieces, perhaps for enveloping comfort or drama.

Watch for the resurgence of natural wood, more motion furniture and design solutions shaped by technology.

For all of you Texan fans, we saw an abundant array of equestrian art. Styles ranged from realistic photography to abstract art. In interior design we continue to celebrate the past alongside the modern convenience of technology and comfort. We look forward to what lies ahead in design and the new styles that we will see at the next market.

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High Point (Fall 2018)

It was an interesting and crazy start to High Point market this time, complicated by Hurricane Michael’s remnants.

Connie heading off to High Point Market from the Design House showroom!

Not the smoothest drive this year thanks to the hurricane.

Since I always go early to market for specials, one-of-a-kinds and meetings, I was there three days before market officially opened. I found myself in tents and warehouses with pouring rain and blowing winds, but gotta find those treasures! The worst part was actually the day before market when most of the triad area lost power. Hotels were down and so were most places to eat. I found out that if I crossed over a certain highway, there was power, so I found a diner open – but so did many others!

They got the power restored first in the market showrooms and hotels, but people renting houses were without it for varying times. Many people had no power until Tuesday evening and market was over on Wednesday. I saw many people in the restrooms at market with curling irons and other items we are dependent on. Now I’m back, dried out, safe and sound, and ready to report on sightings, discoveries and trends.  I really don’t like that word: “trends”, and always suggest to people that they “trend lightly”, but here we go.

I have to qualify this report. It is impossible to cover all of the showrooms in a week, since there are more than 2,000 exhibitors spread over thirteen city blocks, which totals approximately 10 million sqft. Packing comfortable shoes is a priority!

 

A Focus on ‘Trendspotting’

One of the articles in a High Point publication entitled “Trendspotting, High Point”, listed industrial inclinations, earthy inspirations and retro aspirations, elevated with tonal textures, luminous layering and expressive style.

We will break these trends down in a series focusing on the styles and themes that emerged from this fall market, along with plenty of photos and examples that you can adapt to your home right away.  Items from market are arriving daily, so follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to see these exciting new trends.

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Closet Lighting – How To Be Best Dressed!

Do you get dressed before daylight to get to work on time? Does it look like something goes together until you get to work or an event and realize, to your embarrassment, that they don’t? Even in daylight hours, closets rarely have natural light, so it’s important to have the right lighting.

Lighting Technology Made Easy

Lighting technology is amazing today, but can be confusing, so let’s simplify! You need a cool color and a warm color temperature for lights in closets. Well, that simplifies it! Color temperature is a way that the industry describes the appearance of light. It is measured by Kelvin (K) on a scale of 1,000 to 10,000, with warmer color in the lower range and cooler light in the higher range.  A light source which is closer in color temperature to daylight is going to be in the 4000K-5000K range (often used in offices, but not really kind to us) like daylight. If you are going out at night or into an indoor event you will more likely be in warmer lighting, which would be more like 2200-2700K, sometimes even 3000K. You really need to watch the CRI listing because you want 90 or higher to get the ideal color quality.

The Latest in Closet Lighting

The great new product on the market now is a linear LED mounted above the hanging rods which lets you adjust the color temperature from 2200K to 5000K. If your budget doesn’t allow for this, put a 4000K linear bulb above the clothing with some 2700K incandescent bulbs or an LED light on the ceiling; just keep them on separate switches.  With triangular trim, you can mount the linear lighting along the front edge of the shelf, throwing the light toward the back at a 45 degree angle.  Also, there are now some hanging rods available with the LED built into them!  However, if you only have one lighting source, go for the 3000K instead.

With all of the lighting options currently on the market, in addition to constantly evolving technology, it can be hard to keep up with the best solutions for your given situation. Interior designers can help you make the most of your closet, for appearance and functional purposes alike. Reach out to one now for guidance on taking your closet to the next level.

Lighting Designed for a Walk-In Closet
Piece of Clothing on a Hanger in a Closet with Amazing Lighting

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The YEAR of Harvey

It’s a year after Hurricane Harvey and I am still a nomad after forty years in our home, which we had remodeled.  First, we spent a month in a hotel room; then we were lucky enough to find an apartment with a six month lease, though unfortunately right between two freeways!  Finally, we found a high rise in a quieter area on the eighteenth floor. We made the big move, with a year’s lease to determine what to do with our house and property.  We felt that at least we could take a breather, feel more settled, make better decisions, and enjoy our retreat in the sky with no flooding.

Well, we are now in our fourth week of living with seventeen fans and dehumidifiers “which sound like  in our apartment that sound like a jet engine” in our apartment.  We have concrete floors in part of the apartment with carpet removed and they are now tearing out the wood floors and some sheetrock.  Oh yes, the master toilet and head knocker have been removed from the master bedroom and the range, refrigerator and dishwasher from the kitchen – all draped in plastic.

How could this happen?  The new building had a boiler pipe burst above the top floor about 1:30 AM to the tune of approximately 300 gallons per minute.  Fortunately, the people in the apartment just below it were traveling and not home.  But the water took the path of least resistance and caused damage as low as the eleventh floor before disconnected.  They have been working diligently on this, but seeing all the trucks, trash and dumpsters outside along with the workers’ staging area, is just a little hard to handle on the anniversary of Harvey.

I have been asked for photos of projects that have been restored in which the people are back in their newly remodeled homes to publicize.  Honestly, there are very few who are back in and restored.  Some are getting closer to move in, but many homes are still sitting there, or have been demolished and the property is sitting there.  Some of the homes that have been remodeled, and are back on the market, have been done by investors buying them at undervalued prices after the flood, repairing, and sometimes very cheaply, to make the largest profit.

Houston being the fourth largest city with so many areas affected by Harvey, the solutions are varied and complicated; and we as designers have a responsibility to learn about these solutions all around the city and the new building restrictions, so that we continue to add value to our clients’ projects.  But we can go more into those changes next time!

To read more about how Connie and so many other Houstonians have fared in the following year please read this article recently published by Diane Cowen of the Houston Chronicle: 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/home/design/article/Post-hurricane-homeowners-cope-with-decisions-13180786.php

Read the follow-up to this post, The End of Harvey.

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For Those Who Said Gray Was On the Way Out

Check out Pantone’s “In Praise of Gray!”  They say heading into autumn/winter 2019/20, they see grays as a key color for cars, paint, home textiles and interiors.  From the cool tones to the warm, light to more intense dark shades, gray is a color for a lot of solutions.

You can make a space warmer or cooler depending on its location, setting, surrounding surfaces, and the style of the structure in which you are creating the environment, because there are so many blends.  Then you can go as monotone as the situation and client want, making use of different textures, or add an almost endless array of accent colors, whether pastel or primary.

To me, gray is the “ground” of our colors from nature.  The Pantone Rainy Day, Quiet Gray, Silver Filigree and Excalibur are a sophisticated base to build on with endless accents.  Check them out below!

There are many items on our showroom floor at Design House that we can special order that will bring some GRAY into your home! See below a small sampling.

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New Innovative and Exciting Ways to Use Wallpaper

If you haven’t taken time to peruse today’s wallpapers, you are missing an opportunity to get the “creative juices” flowing! It is really a treat to see what is out there today and what you can do with it.

There are explosions of giant flowers for instant drama and whimsy, to much more tame but exciting grasscloths with texture and woven metallics. You can create so much interest in art for the ceiling with various wallcoverings, and even contrast them with a different wallcovering for the walls. Or you could do an accent wall or walls behind bookshelves. Paper over the doors or cabinets in a poweder room to make them disappear. Wrapping furniture in wallpaper can totally transform it into a piece of art and a much more outstanding point of interest. And what about wallpaper on stair risers? A new idea I recently heard of someone doing, and why not? You can apply a protective coat on it as you would on the piece of furniture covered in wallpaper.

One other use I am dying to use is one of the LED wallpapers that looks like a huge room height chandelier that would have the LED lights imbedded in it. Imagine at the end of a hallway – how unexpected and fun! You may want to take some time to explore the wallcovering room at Fabric House. It can be inspirational!

You may want to take some time to explore the wallcovering room at Fabric House. It can be inspirational!

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Nautical Themed Decor for Summertime

 

Nothing makes a home feel “beachy” like furnishings that have a nautical touch. Stripes, knots, and seashells can make you taste that salty sea air, whether you’re decorating a beach house or a bedroom miles away from the nearest beach.

The Design House Showroom has those special items that can give any space a nautical flair:

Nautical Decor Item 1

Coral Sea Fan on Glass

Nautical Decor Pillows

Linen and cotton pillows in Sea Catalina Blue, Mediterranean Serafina Navy

Nautical Decor Model Ship made from Wood

Santa Maria Caravella with stone base 31.25 H 7.5 D 34.5 W

Nautical Decor Rope

Mirror with gold rope finish, 36 D

Striped canvas nesting tables

Striped canvas nesting tables

Striped canvas nesting tables

Striped canvas nesting tables

Antique brass floor lamp that looks like a vintage style nautical search lamp 66 H

Antique brass floor lamp that looks like a vintage style nautical search lamp 66 H

Framed Green Fan Coral

Framed Green Fan Coral

Arm Chair with gold leaf accents, 24 W 23.5 D 39 H

Arm Chair with gold leaf accents, 24 W 23.5 D 39 H

Contact us for more information on these items at 713.803.4949!

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“Singing the Blues” at High Point Market

 

The High Point Market, the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, takes place every six months, and the Spring 2015 exposition recently showcased the upcoming trends in the interior design industry. Let me tell you, the color blue was everywhere, and in every shade: blueberry, cobalt, indigo, cornflower…

Perhaps people have grown tired of the burgundy shade in dining rooms and living spaces. Perhaps Marsala is a color better suited to the fashion industry for now.

Perhaps people have grown tired of the burgundy shade in dining rooms and living spaces. Perhaps Marsala is a color better suited to the fashion industry for now.

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June 21st marks the first day of summer, but for most children summer break just started.  Summertime is usually connected to outside activities like pools, parks, and family vacations, but who says your home can’t feel summery?  Follow one of more of the below easy tips, to “summerfy” your home!

Tip One: Declutter your home and allow for minimal accessories with pops of color.

Image from Pinterest

Tip Two: Liven up a space with succulent plants, such as cacti, in whimsical planters, or keep it simple with fresh cut flowers in a mason jar.

Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

Tip Three: Brighten up your sofa or bed with fresh pillows.

Tip Four: Have any tired lamps that are looking for a new life? Go crazy and lacquer the base, shade, or both!


Amy Howard lacquer colors available at Design House

Tip Five: Do an artwork swap with framed shells or summer landscapes.

Tip Six: Add a seating arrangement near windows to allow for summer reading and conversation while staying out of the elements.

Need help finding these items?  Come on by the showroom located in the Houston Design Center, or give the showroom a call at 713-803-4949 and one of the sales associates will be happy to help.

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Hurricane Preparedness for your Houston Home

 

If you live in Houston, hurricane and flood preparedness is an all-year event. The recent storms in Texas caused some of the worst flooding in the Houston area since Hurricane Ike back in 2008. Now that hurricane season is upon us once again, it’s important to revisit our hurricane and flood survival plans, for both residents and business owners.

2008 was quite a learning experience for me, both as a resident of Houston and also as a 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 28th.  Ike caused extreme power outages for many homes and businesses and resulted in streets being lined more than 6 ft high with trees.  This created an eerie tunnel effect as you drove along the suddenly much more narrow lanes.

We were without power for more than two weeks both at home and work.  I learned quickly how to operate a generator and about the endless amount of fuel it needed.  Gas stations with operating pumps were hard to find.  The heavy rains at the end of April caused a different problem; there was flooding in areas that had never flooded before.  People awoke early that morning and stepped out of bed into standing water.  What a shock and what do you do?  Of course, there are the published lists of supplies to get in preparation for hurricanes and floods, such as water, batteries, non perishables, ice, etc., but I found that these were not nearly enough to prepare us for what happened and especially for what followed.  Surely, I realize that what happened to us cannot be compared to the losses of many in Galveston; however, because we are further from the coast and feel a little less vulnerable, is exactly why I want to share some of what I have learned.  What can you do to prepare for afterwards?

Credit: Pixabay

Since we had not flooded in the 30 plus years we have been in our home, we had recently had the conversation about “should we continue to pay for flood insurance?”  Fortunately, we decided to continue.  Please do the same; it’s not that expensive.  What a set back it would have been if we had not!  Check with the carrier of your homeowner’s insurance, and they can help you with this separate policy under the National Flood Insurance Program.  While you are doing this, also check to see if you are covered for wind and hail damage under your home owner’s policy.  You should know that flood insurance does not cover living expenses while you repair your damages, and if your mortgage holder is listed on your insurance policy, you cannot cash your insurance claim check without their approval.  You can expect this to slow the process down, but stay after them.  Call again and again.

Also, the contents coverage is limited to $100,000 and structural damage to $250,000.  To get the maximum you are entitled to, you will be far ahead with the process if you already have an inventory and idea of cost and age of your belongings.  You will be required to supply a list of any damaged items, including their age and value.  Take pictures or video as a back up, not just of the contents, but also of any structural damage.  Manufacturers’ name, serial and model numbers, price and description are needed for appliances.  This proof of loss form must be filed within 60 days.

The first thing you should do to get all this started is to contact your insurance agent, and if he is not available for some reason, call The National Flood Insurance Program.  You will then be assigned an adjuster.  You will not be reimbursed for any items not authorized by the adjuster. Don’t be surprised when the adjuster is from another part of the country, as they travel all over the country to help with disasters.  They receive a flat salary on a per case basis, so there is no reason for them to give you a small claim payment. Do get their name, phone number, and e-mail because you will need to be in touch with them with questions and responses.  We found ours to be helpful in guiding us through this.  After looking at your damages, he will be able to estimate what he can allow you up front, so ask for an advance or partial payment for contents and structural loss.  Then you will not be given any more funding until you have all your proof of loss turned in and he determines how much will be allowed for structural damage.  You can get another draw after some of the repair is done and you request an inspector to come and report back to NFIP.  This inspector is a different person than the adjustor that was sent to appraise.

Another major expense will be the clean up, and there are many around to take advantage of you here, so check them out thoroughly.  It is best to ask around about this before you are desperate and vulnerable and willing to just take whoever can come out.  You may have an uninhabitable, muddy mess that perhaps even needs to first have nasty water pumped out.  The sheetrock will need to be pulled out at the two or four foot mark, depending on how high the water got.  These heights are used because the size of the sheetrock is 4’ X 8’, so it makes for less waste.  Insulation needs to be removed from all exterior walls.  All walls, floors, and everything that got wet need to be completely dried out and sprayed with disinfectant.  Switches and outlets that were wet need to be replaced.  You may want to look into services like POD or SAM that provide on-site storage for your items while you are repairing the structure; they can often be  less expense than moving and storage.

Let’s back up to when you stepped out of bed into water.  Hopefully, you resisted the urge to switch on the lights to see what was happening.  Standing water may be electrically charged, so turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your area, and don’t turn it back on until your structure is dried out.  To turn off the breaker box, stand on a dry spot and use a dry wooden stick or pole to open the door and push the main breaker to off.  Then turn each circuit breaker off.  Also, turn the gas off; for this you will need pliers or a wrench, so know where they are.  To make sure you have it turned off, you can check the meter after a few minutes.  Of course, you need to report any downed power lines or gas leaks immediately.

Many published lists of suggested supplies are available for hurricane preparations.  In addition, you may want to consider purchasing a portable gasoline generator or a natural gas generator that can be assigned to however much you want to power in an outage and can be permanently mounted outside.  Make a list of what would be necessary to power, and an electrician can tell you what size generator you would need and set it up for you.  These come on periodically for a routine check throughout the year and are ready in case of any power outage.  With the smaller, portable gasoline generators, always keep them outside and have several safe gas cans that have a good spout and closure to transport the fuel you will need.  Large cans are great to save trips to the gas station, but a smaller one is easier to use to fill the generator.

Unlike the warnings you receive for an approaching hurricane, you may not have any warning of a flood; but in either case you will need to have a response plan ready.  It is much less stressful to make a plan in advance.  Have those personal property records already prepared, and keep photocopies of inventory, insurance policies, deeds, and other valuable papers in a different location.  Have the phone numbers you will need with you, such as your insurance agent’s number, or in the case of floods caused by rain, FEMA’s contact information.  Also, have your computer unplugged, backed up, and out of the range of flooding. Make sure you know which reputable disaster recovery companies to contact before the catastrophe strikes — don’t wait until it’s too late. Ensure that they have fans and dehumidifiers, and if not, make sure to have the contact information of companies that can provide them.

Businesses particularly need a disaster recovery plan.  Not only do the computers need to be shut down, unplugged, and covered in case water comes not just from flooding but possibly from above, they also need to have off-site storage/backup.  You may even need recovery server hosting.  The use of cloud-based software is becoming increasingly popular with small businesses from retailers to restaurants, so business owners and employees can access important information wherever they go. This allows you to conduct business at a different location if your in-house data center is offline. These cloud-based applications include Freshbooks and Zendesk, which eliminate problems such as power requirements and physical barriers, keeping your data safe, stored and accessible from any device.

At the very least, even with a small business, have an employee plan so they know what to do, who to contact, and everyone’s number of where they might be reached.  We thought we were prepared, but when our computers were down for so long, we had not thought to print out the immediate appointments or numbers of our clients and vendors.  Since our phones were out, we had to forward calls to our cell phones.  Have a remote operation plan.

Being prepared can make your misfortune a lot more bearable.  It can save you a lot of money and get you back to normal faster.

Other recovery items of interest:

Solid wood furniture can usually be repaired and cleaned, but wood veneer often separates and warps.  Particle board and plywood fall apart if wet for very long.

Wood alcohol or turpentine applied with a cotton ball may remove white mildew spots on wood.

Cream wood restorers with lanolin will help restore good wooden furniture.

Upholstered furniture soaked by floodwaters should probably be thrown out unless it is very valuable or an antique.

Clean and disinfect dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers only with water safe for drinking and only if the sewer line is working.

Throw out any food touched by floodwaters – even canned food, and do not keep food in bottles or jars with caps or screw on lids.

Valuable papers, books, and photographs can be restored with a lot of effort.  Rinse and freeze them in a frost free freezer or commercial locker until you have time to work on them.  Dry them quickly with a blow dryer when you thaw them, and don’t try to force paper products apart – just keep drying them.  Photocopy soon because they may deteriorate.

If a computer disk has valuable information, rinse it in clear water and put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Later on you can take it to a drying center and have the data transferred.  Many companies that restore computers and computer records are members of the Disaster Recovery Institute.

Things look dry on the outside long before they dry on the inside.  A way to test is to apply a piece of clear plastic with all edges sealed with taped.  Check it 24 hrs later to see if there are beads of condensation.  Do not paint, lay carpet or flooring until completely dry.

Photograph your rooms to document any damages.

Woman In Gold

 

Have you seen the recent film, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds? It’s based on the true story of Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee who fought the government of Austria to get back a Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis. Klimt painted the “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” in 1907, in oil, silver, and gold on canvas. Elaborate and brilliant, the Art Nouveau painting of the Viennese salon lady is anything but dull.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I

“Tribute to L’Accomplissement” and “L’Attente” are mixed media tributes to the Klimt painting by French artist, Roland Renaud, and they’re for sale here at Design House. Painted on sheet metal with gold leaf, the artworks depict a couple embracing and an Egyptian woman, respectively.

“Tribute to L’Accomplissement” by Roland Renaud, 32″W x 67″H

“L’Attente” by Roland Renaud, 32″W x 67″H

These pieces really are stunning in person. Come and see them at the Design House Showroom for yourself, and browse our collection of both decorative and collectible artwork, a range of pieces for all budgets.

Art, Design, and Catastrophe

 

As Houston sits submerged in water from the recent floods, I find myself snickering at pictures of fancy-shmancy party-goers in Venice falling into the Grand Canal during the 2015 Venice Biennale, one of the most important contemporary art exhibitions in the world. Because I may be sitting in water involuntarily, but at least I’m not dressed for a cocktail party.

Also, I can view gorgeous contemporary artwork right here at Design House, without risking a tumble off a crowded jetty while in stilettos. Some examples of the collectible art in the showroom:

Oil of trees, 30″ x 40″

Recycled glass abstract, 12″x12″

18” x 80” abstract painting with resin coating

18” x 80” abstract painting with resin coating

Come and see what other gems we have in our showroom! We are located in the Houston Design Center,  and open Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm. We look forward to seeing you!

DHI Supports Red Nose Day!

Design House staff, from left: Paige, Rima, Rebecca, Connie in the flowers, Moriah being dramatic, Jin, and Anna.

People Watching at Maison & Objet in Miami

 

Last week, Connie and I went to Miami to attend Maison & Objet’s first show in the Americas. In case you didn’t know, Maison & Objet is a major French trade fair for interior design, one of the largest in all of Europe. It was, in a word, fabulous. We’ll be posting soon about all the amazing innovation, art, and design was saw there, but first, a small taste of the M&O party-goers for some eye candy:

And yes, in case you were wondering: I was hiding behind palm trees with my smartphone, snapping pictures of random, beautiful people like a weirdo. Hey, you do what you gotta do…

Choosing Showroom Artwork

 

As a designer here at Design House, choosing art for our showroom has been one of my favorite things to do. I was a painting major and it’s a dream come true to be around so much art every day.

Just this week, an art vendor stopped by, loaded with decorative paintings and collection pieces of all sizes. He started bringing them out, and as the sun glistened and reflected on the glass and resin of this mixed media piece, I immediately recognized it!

This artist is Mary Hong from Grayton Beach, Florida, one of my favorite places on Earth. I remember seeing the art for the first time 10 years ago and thinking it was so cool that she used recycled and found glass on her canvas. It actually looks elegant and gives you a great feeling. Hong pours on a clear resin to finish her paintings and this really makes the light bounce from shard to shard.

She tends to keep her colors light and breezy but the angled, hard-edged glass slices keep it contemporary. These pieces are versatile and can go in a bathroom, bedroom or living area!

Houston Arts & Culture: Sweeney Todd

 

This is the popular notion of opera, but it’s not always accurate.

One may think opera is all about plus size women wailing away in their Viking helmets, but it’s so much more. I like to think of it as the greatest expression of storytelling through music. I’ve often been told that opera is the Olympics of singing, and as an opera singer myself, I have definitely found that to be true. Making sure one’s voice is heard in a full opera house and above an orchestra without the use of microphones for an entire performance takes a lot of practice, stamina, and skill.

Nowadays, one may witness opera singers venturing outside of the standard opera repertoire and performing in musicals. Last Wednesday night, for example, my husband and I were lucky enough to see the famous opera singer, Nathan Gunn, perform the title role in the hit musical, Sweeney Todd, at the Houston Grand Opera’s Wortham Theater. Sought after by all of the major opera houses for his luscious voice and hunky good looks, it was such a rare treat to watch Gunn perform as the menacing butcher of Fleet Street at the Houston Grand.

Sweeney Todd, showing at the Houston Grand Opera’s Wortham Theater.

 

Another incredible opera singer, dramatic soprano Susan Bullock, plays Sweeney Todd’s partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett, and will keep you laughing till your sides hurt. The story captivates a wide variety of audiences, and has something for everybody. A thrilling production filled with comedy, vengeance, romance, and a little gore really makes it a show to remember. Even my husband couldn’t stop talking about the performance!

To learn more about the story and to purchase your tickets online before they sell out, go to https://www.houstongrandopera.org. But hurry, because there are only THREE performances left! Get your tickets while you still can.

Lighting Today in Interior Design

 

Has lighting become confusing?  Don’t know what to look for as replacements?  Too many new choices?  And you may be frustrated by all the discontinued light bulbs!   No need to stress or hoard.  It’s just getting better!

Probably you are well aware of LEDs (light emitting diodes) by now, but technology and pricing keeps changing so fast with them, you may be confused as to what to buy.  They are becoming the bulb of choice, though.  They do cost more but that price has dropped to a level that they are worth your consideration.  Plus the CRI (color rendering index) is really good now.  Look for a higher number to indicate the effect of a light source on color appearance of its surroundings.  Something in the 80s or 90s is the best.  If you want them to look like your old incandescents, look for 2700K (Kelvin); but if they are around or replacing halogen, you might prefer 3000K.  And for fluorescent color, you may go higher.

A modern LED light fixture.

The LEDs will last 10 to 25 times longer, save on energy costs, do not contain mercury, don’t emit IR or UV radiation, are dimmable and are available for every use, home or office.  An old incandescent bulb released 90% of their energy as heat and a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) releases about 80%, but an LED releases only 10%.  An incandescent lifespan was 1000 hours, a halogen 2000 – 3000, a CFL 8000-10000, but now we can expect 30,000-50,000 from an LED.  A 60 watt incandescent put out 820 lumens.  The CFL only used 15 watts to put out 950 lumens, which was a great improvement, but the LED uses only 13.5 watts to produce 1100 lumens.

You can see what is so appealing about converting to these.  In 2010, LEDs had 6% market share, by 2016, 49%, and by 2020, 71% is predicted.  This technology is moving so fast that generations of it will be measured in months rather than years.  So stay tuned and give them a try!

The annual Christmas Share program spreads the joy of the holidays to many families by providing toys, gift cards, and blankets to hundreds of children in the area. The families we serve struggle to provide food and basic necessities for their children often without enough funds leftover for rent and utilities. During the 2013 holiday season, over 600 children received gifts!

This year, our goal is to again reach at least 600 children through the program. We will also provide a twin size blanket for each child in addition to their toy bag. We hear from churches, schools and families that many children do not have blankets at home. Thanks to a very generous donation, we have reached our goal for blankets! Your participation can make this year another success!

NO: stuffed animals, boardgames, video games, NO: XBOX, Playstation, Wii, etc..

YES: Legos, Sport Equipment, Skateboards, Scooters, Remote Cars, Craft Kits, Cosemtic Sets, Nerf Toys , Polly Pocket, Disney anything, Baby Einstein, Books, Fisher Price Toys, Super Hero Anything, VTECH toys, Gift Cards, New Blankets
*Must be NEW and UNWRAPPED

Fabric House in Houston has more than JUST Fabric!

The physical expansion will house separate rooms for all our growing selections of wallcovering, trims and drapery hardware, giving these lines their own space from all the many fabrics.  Fabric House “houses” approximately 40 fabric lines, 20 wallcovering lines, 8 trim lines, 9 hardware lines and 4 contract/ commercial wallcovering lines, most which also offer quick ship.  Plus, Fabric House has a new line, Coulisse, which offers solar, wood and grass-woven window coverings that can even be motorized. The variety and options in Drapery Hardware is growing with cutting edge materials and styles and the new LeFevre Collection line of pre-made drapery AND drapery hardware!  Wallcoverings are exciting and so current with applications of peacock feathers, glass beads, recycled windshield glass, and sea sand.  And to be introduced in the new addition is LED paper, that can also be obtained in LED fabric by special order.  These products are of many styles and a wide price range. There are new fine fabrics from England, Netherlands, and Spain that even though overseas fabrics, can be delivered in five days.

Finally, the Fabric House team is thrilled to announce a new employee import from England.  Welcome Jimmy to the special service team of Nancy, Penny and Kate.  In addition to Nancy’s vast experience in fabrics, and Penny’s thirteen years in wallcoverings, Jimmy will be able to add his expertise with window coverings.  He has ten years’ experience in England working on projects also in France and Spain and including everything from palaces to the Beckhams. So, Fabric House will continue to provide a even more service oriented, one-stop shopping experience for all your fabric, wallcoverings, and window covering needs for both residential and commercial use.

1st PLACE : DESIGN HOUSE for Best non-primary Residential Home!!
The design team ( Connie LeFevre, Jennifer Renner, Amanda Lockhart, & Jin Lee Bang) were proud to accept another 1st place award, with all the creativity and fun challenges in designing the gorgeous property in Colorado… more exciting news to come..stay tuned!

WINNER!..Judges voted on Best Ports of Call for:

Best Décor – Chilling in St. Petersburg by Design House, Inc.

The People’s Choice for Best Port of Call was awarded to:

St. Petersburg by Design House, Inc.

What is NEW in flooring? A few innovative and cool options for your floors!

 

coloring book wood floor

We recently installed liquid floor squares in a church area for youth.  These 2 ft squares can be dropped into complementary laminate flooring & spaced just far enough apart for the children to play on each.  They are colorful & the colors inside move as they step on them.  What fun & what a hit!  Would also be great in club or play room enviroment.

floor tiles that change color – touch sensitive

Here is another fun one for children.  With wood flooring from Carving Kids by Austrian manufacturer Mafi, kids can color directly on the wood flooring using crayons or markers.  They can be cleaned with Mafi soap.  This designer wood flooring has CNC-engraved smiley faces, kitty cats, & flowers, or more adult tartan & retro patterns.  When the children are older or you tire of it, it can be sanded to a regular oak floor.

How about wood flooring that plays music?  Walnut seems to work best for its sound transmission.  It vibrates best.  A CNC cutter creates grooves in the surface & when objects are rolled over it musical pitches are produced.  The space between the openings & the depth determines the volume.  This product is called Me-lo-dy.

What about an underwater wood floor?  This restaurant structure using Malaysian teak flooring was assembled on land & then submerged.  The glass top allows the fish to swim all around you as you are dining.  Yes, it is expensive.  Total construction cost was $5 million, but with lunch & dinner running $200 – $300 +, perhaps it’s not too much…?

‘water over wood’ floors in a restaurant

Something else to consider:  Hate your existing floors?  Instead of ripping them out you should know about dyes.  It isn’t the easiest nor quickest, but it is an option for the unique & for saving a floor.  The color options go from apx 15 for stain to endless for dye, & you can make a floor look totally different.  There is much to know about this & it can be used for wood floors, but do your research.  We recently used dye on old terrazzo flooring in a building we were renovating.  Stains hardly made a difference, but we were able to get some beautiful flooring in this space by dying them & were very sustainable!

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.”