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Should I Work with an Interior Designer?

When you’re looking at a remodeling project, you might ask yourself, “Should I work with an interior designer?” It’s a great question to ask and one we’re happy to answer. To answer it, we’ll talk about what a designer does and also clear up some common misconceptions.

What does an interior designer do?

When it comes down to it, an interior designer not only becomes the curator of your project but also the tour guide and project manager. An experienced designer should visit you in your home and get a feel for who you are and your overall aesthetic. Then, based on your budget and the overall scope of the project, the designer will begin curating a variety of options for everything from finishes, to cabinets, to window treatments and lighting fixtures, and more.

An experienced designer knows that all clients want options. Any designer should bring you options and then, based on your response, tweak them as necessary. Maybe you like the subway tile for your backsplash but you aren’t crazy about the countertop options. The designer would then work to find something more to your liking.

A designer should also help keep you from being overwhelmed by the options. It’s their job to understand you and work to help you narrow your choices. Afterall, there are a million light fixtures, cabinet pulls, wall colors and coverings, floor choices, and more.

The designer as “tour guide”

An experienced interior designer also acts as a “tour guide” so to speak. Any remodeling project has many moving parts as well as timelines to be followed. A designer knows what decisions need to be made and when they need to be made. They make sure things are efficient. Remember, most homeowners might do a handful of remodels. Interior designers plan remodels all day, every day. They don’t forget that you need cabinet hardware or certain light bulbs for certain fixtures that can’t be found at a big box store.

A professional designer saves you time. They contain a wealth of knowledge from years of experience. They know how to head problems off before they become problems. They know how to schedule out contractors and how to work with them. They often have “go-to” contractors who they’ve worked with many times and trust their work.

They also save you money and help steer you away from decisions you might regret. For instance, if you have kids and/or pets, a designer may recommend you stay away from certain color schemes or flooring options or fabric options that will show wear and tear easily.

Misconceptions about hiring an interior designer

Many people, who ask the question, “Should I hire a designer?”, assume that a designer makes all the decisions for the project. Any professional, experienced designer takes their clients personal tastes and wishes and uses them as primary guidance. The designer works as a trusted advisor more than anything.

Others often think, “Yes, but if I hire a designer, they’ll pick everything they like and it will all be out of my price range.” An experienced designer always takes your budget into consideration and works to stay within it. And a designer should get to know you well enough to curate everything to your taste.

If you have a project on the horizon and are asking yourself, “Should I hire an interior designer?” give us a call. We love the fun and challenges of a new project. And we’re sure we can save you a lot of headaches and time.

Meet our design team

Emily Chase

Missy Eheart

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How to Choose Living Room Furniture

how to choose living room furnitureA comfortable living room invites people to gather, hold conversations, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s important then, that you spend some time considering what furniture pieces make the most sense in your living room. Below, you’ll find some helpful ideas on how to choose living room furniture.

The Main Furniture Pieces

Flexibility makes a lot of sense when it comes to furnishing your living room. Individual pieces that can be moved around allow for occasional rearrangement – either out of need when hosting a large gathering or out of the desire to simply mix things up. We also recommend, when purchasing living room furniture, that you keep the colors neutral for the main pieces. Neutral colors last longer in terms of trends and can be accented with throw pillows allowing you to add different splashes of color and mix things up easily..

The Sofa

When it comes to the sofa, size matters. Most sofas range from 84” – 90” and will fit a variety of spaces. If you have a smaller area, you can find more petite sized sofas in the 75” – 80” range. Do know, that an overstuffed sofa, although comfortable in the show room, will often appear massive and out of place. And, even though they are quite popular, a sectional may be too inflexible when you want to rearrange for a gathering or bring a Christmas tree into the space. Often times, you can achieve a similar look and feel with two sofas.

Also, think about how many people you want to seat on your sofa. If you choose a sofa with three cushions, three people will naturally sit there. If you get one with one or two larger cushions, you can often seat up to four allowing for more seating flexibility.

The Chairs

In terms of chairs, we recommend chairs that are attractive both from the front and the back. We also recommend chairs that have arms on them. People like to lean. Once again, flexibility is key when selecting chairs. You’ll want to be able to float them in the room or place them in a corner. Look for chairs that are 30” – 38” wide. Anything bigger takes up a lot of space and becomes too big to be useful. Look for chairs that seat one person comfortably.

The Ottoman

An ottoman allows for a little variety, and a comfortable place to rest the legs. Your ottoman doesn’t have to match your furniture. You can add some texture, patterns and color to the area and play with your ottoman more easily than with your main pieces of furniture. Once again, think about where you will keep the ottoman and how large it is. It should be a very flexible piece of furniture.

The Coffee Table

We love the look of a square coffee table, but let’s face it, they’re not very flexible. We almost always recommend a rectangular table due to the flexibility for different placements around the room. Don’t purchase the largest table you can find. You want people to be able to walk around it comfortably in relationship to the other furniture pieces in the room.

Quality Matters

You want furniture you can live on. Get pieces with nice quality upholstery. They last a long time. Make sure the cushions upholstered on all sides. If you do end up with a spill that won’t come out, you can flip it over and hide the stain. When you sit on a sofa, you shouldn’t be able to ffel the frame. If you do, don’t buy it. It won’t last. Look for 8-way hand tied pieces. This is a great marker of quality. There are also many performance fabrics available too. These resist spills and fading and typically last longer. If you have kids, a pet or a messy spouse, you’ll definitely want performace fabrics. They also come in a variety of attractive options these days.

Get an Opinion

We love to visit people’s spaces and walk them through how to choose living room furniture. If you’re in the market, stop in and talk with us. We can arrange a visit and help you think through your plans.

Looking more for a living room refresh rather than refurnishing? Read How to Do a Living Room Refresh.

How to Do a Living Room Refresh

We simply love doing a living room refresh. Why? Because there are so many fun possibilities. But, instead of going into the endless possibilities of refreshing your living room, we want to focus your attention on three simple categories that offer the greatest impact: draperies, rugs and pillows.

Draperies Catch the Eye

Ever walk into someone’s living room and just love how it feels? But, when you think about it, you can’t quite put your finger on why? That’s the power of draperies. Draperies can do wonders for a room. Model homes use them to add to the height and grandeur of a room. You can too.

One of our favorite drapery tactics is to use single width draperies. They do incredible things to a room and make your living room look custom. They add height. They can add incredible color and eye-catching patterns. The options are endless. When you order custom sizes and get the right lengths, and length does matter, you can really change the direction of your living room space and set an entirely new tone. Draperies are a simple solution but make a tremendous difference when you’re doing a living room refresh.

Use an Area Rug Like a Boat or a Raft

We don’t actually want you to float your area rug in the water, but we do want you to think of it as a boat or a raft. Here’s why. People do area rugs wrong, most of the time, but we’ve found, when they think of them as a boat or a raft, it offers the right visual to do them right. In fact, when done right, an area rug will make a huge impact for a living room refresh.

When you think of your area rug as a boat, it should cover the bulk of the floor with little room on the sides. All of your furniture then sits on the rug – or “in the boat”. It’s a more traditional use of an area rug but it does a few things. It makes your room look bigger and more grand. And, it can cover up the existing floor you hate, but can’t afford to replace.

When you think of your area rug as a raft, everyone hangs on to the “raft”. You don’t put all of the legs of the chairs and sofa on the area rug, just the front legs. As a raft, this type of area rug is often smaller and anchors the space. When used properly, a smaller area rug pulls the space together and adds coziness. (One note on a smaller area rug. We don’t believe a 5 x 8 rug has any place in a living room. Most of the time, a coffee table sits on top of a 5 x 8 looking and the rug ends up looking like a coaster for the table. Your coffee table doesn’t need a coaster.)

Another option, and one we like when done well, is to layer area rugs. We do, however, recommend you seek some guidance if you want to layer area rugs. When done properly they can be an incredible, textured addition to a living room space. But again, seek some help on the layered look before you purchase rugs for a space that just won’t do the room justice.

Overall, rugs, either as boats, rafts or layered, can pull the whole space together in terms of color and texture. They allow you to go from a more traditional look to a more modern one or vice versa.

Pillows Aren’t Just Soft and Fluffy

We’d love to tell you that you can never have too many pillows – like you can never have too many shoes – but we’d be lying. But don’t get us wrong. We love pillows, just not too many of them. During a living room refresh, however, they can have a huge impact.

For starters, let’s talk numbers. We recommend three pillows for a sofa and five for a sectional. Enough, but not so many you have to remove them to sit down. Nicely sized, over-scaled pillows can add a lot of look. Custom pillows add a lot to a room and really change the look of the space considerably without having to refurnish the room.

You can choose from a variety of textures, colors and patterns. To add a more organic feel, add trimmings on the edges. We recommend investing in good pillow inserts made with a poly-down fill. They hold up much better and will look as new today as they do 10 years from now. When your covers start to wear or look dated, or you want to change them for the season, simply swap out the covers but use the same inserts.

One final pillow idea that can refresh a space is to get really large pillows – also known as floor pillows – and cluster them around a bookshelf, or your fireplace. Floor pillows are nice to consider and look designery.

Have Fun Refreshing!

We love talking about refreshing living rooms (and other spaces for that matter) but if you follow our three categories – draperies, rugs and pillows – you will be amazed at what you can do without breaking the bank. And, if you want to see some great options, stop in and talk with us.

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Curl Up in the Warmth: How to Remodel a Fireplace

You’ve been staring at that fireplace for too long now. The dated mantel, the wrong colored tile, the dated brick. Any or all of these things act like nails on a chalkboard whenever you look at it. The good news? You’re not the only one. We’ve worked with many people who have wanted to know how to remodel a fireplace and over the years, we’ve picked up a few things that will help you through the process and make your new fireplace exceptional.

Identify what’s wrong with your fireplace

Is it the tile or rock or brick that surrounds it? Is it the placement in the room? Is it the mantel or lack of a mantel? Is it the built-in structure that surrounds it or the hearth? Or, maybe you’re doing a larger remodel project and you’re considering adding the fireplace to the project. Whatever your reason, depending on what you don’t like about your fireplace will ultimately guide your project and its cost.

Surrounding material and future options

A variety of materials can surround a fireplace. Sometimes, the surrounding material is attached to the wall and can be torn out. Then, the backing material can be replaced and a new material applied. Other times, the surrounding material is a part of the structure. No matter what your circumstance is, we can help you figure out the right solution. We work with experienced contractors who will help you determine what, if any, structural changes need to be made to your home.

Remember though, the great thing with a material change – and the most fun part – is figuring out the look you want. So many choices exist these days. You’ll be amazed what can be done with tile, brick veneer and ledgestone. And even if you have an idea in mind, we recommend you look at several of these options before deciding on one. You never know what may surprise you.

The placement

If you don’t like where your fireplace sits in the room, the level of complexity of the project increases, but don’t let that discourage you. We’ve helped many people move their fireplace. Just know, that moving a fireplace to another place in the room most likely will involve some sort of structural change internally and externally. For instance, do you know where your current fireplace is vented? Is it through a chimney that’s a part of the house? Or is it vented through a hidden pipe in the wall? Once again, we can help you find an experienced contractor to guide you through a fireplace move.

The mantel

The mantel, often the centerpiece of the fireplace, is definitely worth thinking through really well. What do you want it to look like? As with surrounding materials, you’ll have a lot of fun options to consider. And don’t forget to think about what you want the mantel’s purpose to be? Do you want to display framed pictures or decorative objects on top of it? If so, a groove in the top to help things stay in place may make sense. Are you thinking you might put a TV above it? If so, you’ll want to consider how high the TV will actually sit and where the power for the TV will come from. If the TV is too high, you may be craning your neck to watch your favorite shows. And if there’s no power in the area, you’ll need to add outlets to avoid unsightly wires.

The firebox

How old is your firebox? Does it look dated and out of place with your current style? Does it look beat up and used up? Does it have a blower? Many times, when someone remodels their fireplace, it makes sense to replace the firebox. Other times, a really good cleaning or even a refinishing with heat resistant paint may be all that is needed. We do see many fireboxes that were initially installed by the contractor and are quite inefficient or, they’re surrounded with brass trim or accents that just don’t cut it anymore. Don’t fret, though. If you choose to replace your firebox, there are a variety of options to consider.

Enjoy the process

As you can see, remodeling a fireplace offers a lot of things to think about. We do advise, based on the possible complexity of this project, that you speak with professionals who know how to remodel a fireplace and have experience doing so. If you’re like some people who visit us, it could be a matter of tearing out some old tile and redoing what was there. But, if you’re like others, it could mean tearing out walls, running electrical, and thinking through structural changes. No matter which project yours ends up being, have fun researching your options, embrace the process and know that we’re here to help.

How to Avoid Project Creep and Stop Home Improvement Mistakes Before They Happen

Not a week goes by that we don’t help someone out who is experiencing project creep. Project creep, one of the top home improvement mistakes, happens when homeowners set out to change one “simple” thing in their home only to realize, halfway in, that to do the job right, more is needed. The following example should help you avoid project creep and can be applied to a change in your bathroom, a change with your flooring, a change with anything, really.

Your Hideous Kitchen Countertops: An Example

We all hit that point where we know the kitchen countertops must go. They’re outdated. They’re worn. They’re ugly, hideous in fact. You’ve lived with them long enough and it’s time for them to go. But, you still like your backsplash – you had it changed a couple of years ago – and you see no need to change your cabinets right now. You plan to do that in a year or so.

So, you decide to move forward with just the countertops. You’ve picked out your pattern, measurements have been taken and installation has been scheduled.

But…

  • Have you considered your sink? Is your current one acceptable? What about when you decide to change your cabinets? Will it still be okay?
  • Have you considered the height difference between your new countertop material and your old ones? Will there be a gap between your backsplash?
  • Have you considered how you will slide your old cabinets out from under your new countertops when you decide to change them next year?
  • When you change your countertops next year, will you want to stay with the same kitchen layout?
  • If you think you may want to change your kitchen layout, what will you do about flooring?
  • And if you think you may want to change your kitchen layout, what about the plumbing? Will you want to move your sink? If you want to move the oven and microwave, how will you get the gas and electric lines moved?

We could continue asking questions about the kitchen, but what we really want is for you to avoid home improvement mistakes altogether by asking yourself:

“What else is related to this project?” and “What else could possibly be affected if we decide to change X?”

After you’ve asked these questions, make a list – a thorough one. You may be surprised about how things are interconnected and how changing one “simple” thing may mean changing many.

And always, after you’ve made your list, seek a second opinion. Or, if you have no idea how things are connected in the area you’d like to change, ask for help. Talk to a friend who’s been through a remodel. Talk to a contractor. Or, better yet, bring your plans and ideas with you and stop in to see us at Eheart. We’ll be happy to take a look. In the end, your project will go much more smoothly if you are proactive and work to understand the complete picture ahead of time.

Also, if you’re just starting to think about remodeling, check out our handy Home Remodel Return On Investment Guide  It’s full of stuff we think everyone, who’s doing a remodel, should think about and will definitely help you avoid additional home improvement mistakes.