How To Infuse Glamour Into Your Interiors (Without It Feeling Too Over-The-Top)


Read on to learn how to make your interiors as glamorous as you are. Image: BTL Property

Some peoples’ personalities are just meant to shine. If you fit that bill, there’s no reason why your interiors shouldn’t do the same. Glamorous designs, featuring plenty of glitz, sparkle and show-stopping shine, are simple to put together if you follow the right steps. Here’s how you can make it happen in a way that feels properly balanced, rather than over-the-top, ensuring all eyes end up exactly where you want them.

color and pattern

Revel in bold colors and patterns. Image: Godrich Interiors

Go bold with colors and prints

Glamorous interiors are all about making a big statement, and there’s no better way to do that than with bold colors and loud patterns. Start by picking a color or pattern that speaks to you, and build the rest of your design around it.

Whichever look inspires you, remember the 60-30-10 rule (when using a three-color palette, decorate 60% of a room with the dominant color, 30% with the secondary color, and 10% with the remaining color). Typically, we’d recommend having a neutral shade as the dominant color, but feel free to switch it up. However, if you do choose a bold hue to cover 60% of the space, add neutral touches throughout the rest of the room, creating places for the eye to rest.

Make sure that any other colors utilized in your design compliment your bold hue. If needed, review the color wheel to determine which shades work best together. Once you’ve chosen a palette of 2-3 shades, repeat each one a few times throughout the design. Repetition helps bold colors feel easier on the eyes.

shapely furniture

Focus on choosing elegant, shapely furniture. Image: House of Style

Play with shape

Shape is also a great way to infuse plenty of personality into a room. Instead of building your design around the same boxy, almost-modular furniture pieces everyone else uses, hunt down pieces with more character. Focus on selecting furniture that’s full of elegant curves and lots of angles to add visual interest.

In addition to furniture, keep an eye open for other opportunities to disperse interesting shapes throughout your design. Light fixtures are a great way to do this, as are accessories and décor items. It’s tempting to want to play around with a variety of different shapes and sizes, but again, we suggest picking 2-3 and repeating them in various applications, giving your space a sense of cohesion.


Bring in items that shine. Image: Dwelling Designs

Introduce plenty of shine

When introducing glamour into a space, shine is an absolutely essential component for catching eyes and demanding attention. Make sure to include plenty of it in your design.

As for how to make it work, there are a few different tactics to choose from. The first is to introduce shine through your lighting elements.  Use metals, crystals, or both to create visual impact. If you go this route, we suggest making the lighting fixture your focal point. Consider hanging a bold fixture above a formal dining table, in an entryway, or above the bed.

Metals are incredibly on trend right now, and are another element you can use to easily incorporate more shine into your design. You can choose any metal that fits your aesthetic—or even go for a mixed application—but be sure to opt for a polished finish, which will give you maximum shine. Brushed or oiled finishes are a little duller.


Remember to include a few neutral items to provide balance. Image: moment design + productions, llc

Don’t forget balance

Balance is key for making your glamorous interior design a success. While eye-catching pieces are a must, including too many of them will have an opposite effect, causing the room to appear (and feel)overwhelming. It’s hard to focus when so many elements are vying for attention.

Creating enough balance for the room to feel unified is all about striking a compromise. If you’re opting for a bold pattern, consider choosing one that uses neutral colors. If a piece of furniture features a bold hue, make sure it has straighter lines. If you’ve found the perfect statement piece for a room, highlight it by making the rest of the space a little more subdued in comparison.

Eventually, you’ll find a sense of balance that works well with your style. Until then, we recommend relying on your instincts. As you put the room together, step back every so often and take it all in. Pay close attention to how the room makes you feel. If you feel overwhelmed—or even underwhelmed—don’t be afraid to tweak your design until it feels just right.


Use these tips to create interiors as glamorous as you are. Image: Paloma Contreras Design

Glamorous décor items aren’t hard to find, but bringing them together in a way that makes sense requires a little more effort. On the one hand, you’ll want to include enough glitz to allow your personality to shine through. But, on the other, it’s important to keep you design from becoming too over-the top.

Have you been searching for ways to add more glamour into your interiors? Which design elements are glamorous must-haves for you? Tell us in the comments.

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The 10 Coolest Tiny Studios We’ve Ever Seen

Small apartment living is getting better and better, and we’ve got a roundup of 10 tiny studios to back up our claim. They’re all under 350 square feet, but, with high ceilings that make it possible to build upwards instead of outwards, these little living spaces have enough features and functionality to let you live small and stylishly. They’re modern, minimalist, and maybe even cooler than big, fancy houses.

You be the judge.

1. Abbeville studios

tiny studios

Images: Mc Crum Interior Design

This 20-unit tiny studio project in the UK features spaces centered around a smart, sleek bookcase as a room divider. It separates the bedroom from the sofa and kitchen area, while the center panel rotates to display the flat screen TV on either side.

2. Achille studio project

tiny apartments

Images: Batiik Studio

Batiik Studio, a French design firm, converted a 320 square foot space into a chic, tiny studio for about $40,000. Plenty of storage is hidden under the stairs and in the closet unit, built into the black box next to the bathroom.

3. Chelsea tiny studio

tiny apartments

Image: Yellow Trace

Architect Rick Joy created a sexy New York studio where the bed can be enclosed with linen curtains. Although the space is small, the finishes are of the highest quality, giving the tiny studio a luxury feel.

4. Taipei tiny studio

tiny studio ideas

Image:  iCloud Pen Studio

This 345 square foot studio was created by Cloud Pen Studio. The sleeping area is divided from the rest of the space by a closet/bookcase unit. Integrated lighting, high sheen floors and stainless steel appliances create a light and reflective space.

5. 312 square feet in Poland

Image: 3Xa

Architect Ewa Cherny built an awesome tiny studio apartment in Wroclaw, Poland. The coolest feature is the bookcase, which doubles as the staircase to the sleeping loft. The light, airy space highlights a sharp combination of natural wood tones, whites and black.

6. Zoku Hotel Amsterdam

Image: Concrete Architectural Associates

Concrete Architectural Associates designed this space for the Zoku Amsterdam long-stay residence. The 269 square-foot loft shown above has a flexible floor plan and a sleeping space covered in slats, for privacy.

7. A tiny love nest for 2

Image: Ruetemple

Designed for a couple and located in Moscow, Russia, architects Ruetemple managed to fit plenty of storage nooks into the small space.

8. Suspended in mid-air

Image: Home Designing

This London studio features one of the coolest bed ideas ever: a floating bedroom suspended just under the studio’s skylight. Even cooler, the skylight opens onto the roof for al fresco sleeping.

9. Pod chic

tiny studios under 350 square feet

Image: Andrew and Alain Timonina

It may come in at just 320 square feet, but it’s big on style. The modular furnishings are elegant, and the cleverly-designed central pod serves as a bedroom on one side and kitchen on the other.

10. Industrial, yet polished

Image: Archilovers

Interior designer Tatyana Bobyleva converted a small, raw space into an elegant studio that’s a fusion of Austrian ski lodge style and industrial design. Because the space is small, the designer could splurge on higher-end finishes and furnishings for quality over quantity.

These 10 tiny studios offer plenty of ideas on how to live in a smaller space without sacrificing style or comfort. Which one is your favorite?

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How I Keep Houseplants Healthy and Make Leaves Shine

Thanks to Swiffer for sponsoring this post on adulting and quick cleaning tips! All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

Most of you guys know I’m a fan of Swiffer products, and that they’ve been a sponsor of this blog for a few years now. Over that time, I have found a number of uses for them that you might not immediately think of (and even shared this tip with a friend the other day and realized I hadn’t shared it with you guys yet!). So today, I’m sharing one of my “Adulting” quick tips for making my house look like a grown-up actually lives here.

the secret to healthier houseplants and making leaves shine - clean them regularly

Keeping my plants alive = an adultier adult

When I first moved into the UDH, I was given a houseplant as a housewarming gift. I was also gifted toilet paper, which wound up both funny and practical, and I still recommend the idea to this day. But as for the plant, I didn’t actually know it was alive for the first few months of owning it.

To my surprise, I managed to save it, but countless others weren’t so lucky. Like many new homeowners, I needed to hone my houseplant instincts. To be the type of person who can now share advice on plants, gardening, and the like, makes me realize how far I’ve come from that first plant. If I can manage it, just about anyone can find their inner green thumb with just a few good tips.

A lesser-known hack for healthy houseplants: regular dusting

Do your indoor plants collect dust like mine?

Ok, well probably not exactly like mine. Mine are subjected to quite a lot of indoor pollution because of all of my renovation activities (drywall dust, sawdust, dog hair and dander, etc…).

But, chances are, you may not have given much thought (prior to now) to the dust collecting on your indoor plants. To keep my green friends happy and performing their best, I give them a little help by periodically cleaning their leaves.

Why you should clean your indoor plants

Indoor plants have a lot of benefits. They make any room look more cheerful, they purify the air (some better than others), and in the case of a DIY blogger (coughcough), they make “after” photos look more polished, even when they’re not. According to at least one study, they may even help with productivity or attention span (so instead of the usual comment suggesting you take a break and grab a cup of coffee, perhaps you should get coffee and a plant )

A dusty or dirty plant is like a me on a diet: it’s cranky, it’s stressed, and it’s really not in the mood for your crap, Simon. Dust and dirt on the tops of leaves block sunlight and impede the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. It also makes plants (especially the waxy-leaf ones, like my fiddle leaf fig) look sad and dull.

The healthier a plant is, the better it can fight disease and infestations. As a former brown thumb myself, I know all too well the frustration of plants that seem to wither before my eyes. Not to mention, the stress on my wallet to replace them! Once I started wiping down my plants on a regular basis, though, I saw a noticeable improvement in their stability. Even when I forget to water them, they bounce back faster when I remember to clean them off as I start to care for them again.

(It doesn’t hurt that wiping them down also made me more attentive to watering them regularly, but I digress…)

I refuse to make it a separate cleaning task

If you read the first paragraph of this post, then you’ve already figured this part out: I use Swiffer to keep my plants clean! It’s honestly not a separate task during the cleaning process for me, nor do I fanatically use the same Swiffer product each time. I simply use either the dry cloth or the duster (whichever activity I happen to be doing at the time, dusting or wiping stuff off the floor) to do a quick swipe across my plants. If it’s the sweeper cloths, I will usually start by wiping the plants down with a clean cloth and then attaching it to the Sweeper before sweeping the floor. It’s easy and simple, and it keeps me consistent enough to avoid dust buildup.

Using the dusting habit often enough, I don’t really have to do much more than that. If I ever neglect my plants for a longer period and the dust accumulates more, there’s a plant product specifically for helping to restore waxy shine on leaves. I’ve bought it before, but it mostly sat under the kitchen sink, unused. I’ve even heard that people use mayonnaise to do the same cleaning/shine treatment (haven’t needed to try it yet, though). It should also be noted that the duster option is also ideal for the fuzzy-leaf plants, like violets, that shouldn’t be watered directly on its leaves.

I use Swiffer duster on smaller plants too - it sweeps down each leaf quickly and has less maintenance
(not a violet — just a small windowsill plant)

So, that’s it! Just a quick tip and a good reminder for spring, since lots of people turn their attention to new growth around this time of year. Tell me: have you ever dusted your plants before? Do you have any small tricks you use for your houseplants?

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How I Keep Houseplants Healthy and Make Leaves Shine


English Edwardian Timber Cottage Gets a Modern Makeover

This charming Edwardian timber cottage in Norfolk, England, was recently added a spacious extension which accommodates the living areas.

Read More


Get a Jumpstart on Spring Cleaning with these 5 Top Tips

spring cleaning

We’re here to help you get a jumpstart on spring cleaning. Image: Anchor Builders

Believe it or not, winter is almost over. Warmer temperatures and sunny weather are both right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning is the perfect opportunity for you to start afresh. If you’re ready to get an early start on your yearly clean-out, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered our five top tips to help you tackle your spring cleaning head on.


Declutter before you clean Image: 9 square studio

Declutter first

Before you even think about tackling a deep clean, get rid of some of the clutter that’s piled up over the long winter. Doing so helps you focus on what needs to be done for your spring cleaning.

If you’re unsure of where to start, try the “two-pile” method. Filter the items you intend to toss out into two separate piles: one pile for items still in good enough shape to donate, and another pile for worn-out items to throw away.

Show no mercy! If you’re debating whether or not to get rid of an item, ask yourself if you’ve used it in the last year. If so, it can stay. If not, it may have outlived its usefulness to you. Additionally, do your best to complete your decluttering in one day, including dropping off your donations. That way, you’re not tempted to continually put off the final step.


Create a one-stop-shop with all the tools you need to finish the job. Image: Amy Trowman Design

Get your tools in order

Most of us have a bad habit of leaving our cleaning supplies all over the house. While it may be a good idea to keep a few go-to products in place for day-to-day use, when it comes to spring cleaning, this method may cost you valuable time spent running all over the house looking for your tools.

For projects like this, we suggest making up an on-the-go cleaning kit. Take an inexpensive shower caddy and fill it with products like mult-purpose cleaners, sponges, and rags. This enables you to move easily from room to room, without stopping to worry about which products you have on hand.


Set goals to help you stay on track. Image: Resolution: 4 Architecture

Set clear goals

Tackling a job as big as spring cleaning your entire home can feel overwhelming. The easiest way to keep from getting bogged down is to set clear goals before you start. That way, even if you decide to only do a portion of the job at a time, you’ll have a plan in place to help you stay focused.

Specificity is the key to successful goal setting. Ideally, you’ll want to create a step-by-step plan to follow. Start by deciding which rooms you intend to clean. Then, give yourself an order in which to do so. Some professional cleaners suggest cleaning each room in a circle, while others suggest going top to bottom. Either way, the key is to easily be able to move from task to task without too much hesitation.

Don’t forget to clean rarely thought of places like your washer and dryer. Image: Meriwether Inc

Remember hard-to-reach areas

Spring cleaning is all about giving yourself a fresh start. It’s the perfect opportunity to go above and beyond your usual cleaning regimen, taking care of all the hard-to-reach, rarely thought-of areas that normally don’t receive much attention.

Some of these areas include:

  • Between refrigerator coils
  • Over ceiling fan blades
  • Inside the washing machine
  • Around your HV/AC vents
  • Inside light fixtures
  • Around door frames and crown molding
  • Inside light fixtures and track lighting
  • Behind the toilet

Making cleaning as fun as possible makes it seem like less of a chore. Image: STEFANI STEIN

Make it fun!

Last but not least, make this task as enjoyable for yourself as possible. Yes, spring cleaning is a chore, but there’s no reason why you can’t make it fun. If you’re tackling the task by yourself, consider playing some upbeat music to elevate your mood, or treat yourself to something rewarding when you’ve finished.

If you’re cleaning with your family, try getting them involved. Set the kids up with age-appropriate assignments, and turn it into a game to see who can finish their chore the fastest. With a few more hands in the mix, even a little help can go a long way towards whittling down your to-do list.

spring cleaning

Following these tips makes spring cleaning so much easier. Image: Meridith Baer Home

Spring is almost here, and it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. If you’re ready to get a head start on this task, we’re here to help, with our five best tips to help you spring clean like a pro.

What do you think of these spring cleaning tips? Do you have any of your own to add? Share them with us in the comments below.

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Get The Latest Anthropologie Home Pieces at Nordstrom Now

Nordstrom is known for their incredible customer service, easy online shopping experience and very generous return policies. Anthropologie is known for their artisanal fashion and home collections that always include a bit of exotica or vintage flare. Pair the two companies together and you’ve got some happy shopping to do!

Earlier this week (Monday, March 19, to be exact), Nordstrom began offering 200 Anthropologie Home items at select Nordstrom stores and on Items include bedding, textiles, rugs, tabletop decor and other home accessories featuring a global, bohemian-chic traveler vibe. Fringe, embroidery and hand-painted effects are prominent in the collection. The best part: all pieces ring up at a fairly affordable price point: expect to pay under $50 for a table runner, for example.

Ready to add a little boho-chic to your home? Here are some of our Anthropologie Home Collection faves:

Colorado earthenware vases, made in Portugal. All images: Nordstrom

Anthropolgie Home Mimira appetizer plates

Mimira appetizer plates by North Carolina ceramicist Lindsay Emery.

Dog-a-Day stoneware dessert plate by Sally Muir.

Anthropogie Home Collection at Nordstrom hardware

Knobs featuring amethyst, lucite and mother of pearl inlay. From top, clockwise: Mother of Pearl. Streamline, Crowned Quartz, Margot and Tuva.

anthropolgie home collection pillows

Hand crafted pillows for miles.

Hermine Van Dijck for Anthropologie Home jacquard table runner.

Tabletop collection pieces, name and prices to be announced.

The collection has plenty of chic, colorful and textured pieces to add a little life to a dull interior. The contemporary patterns and colors are bound to work with nearly any decor, and, with the line scheduled to expand and vary according to the season, we’re expecting Nordstrom’s backing of this collection to be a success.

Which pieces do you love? Let us know your favorite picks (we know, it’s hard to narrow it down!) in the comments.

Shop the collection in store at Nordstrom, or online at



How to Pull off Cozy Minimalism: A Perfect Blend of Two Opposing Styles

cozy minimalism

Cozy minimalism is everywhere these days. We’ll show you why. Image: Studio Morton

Does “cozy minimalism” sounds like an oxymoron? If you think it does, you’re not alone. However, this intriguing home décor style is a situation in which opposites definitely attract. The look is steadily becoming one of the most popular aesthetics in today’s landscape—and it’s not hard to see why people are falling in love.

If you’re searching for a design style that effortlessly blends comfort with functionality, search no more. We’ve outlined exactly why this look works as well as it does, including a few pointers on how you can pull the look together.

cozy minimalism

Cozy minimalism works because it’s a happy medium. Image: Intro

Why cozy minimalism works

Put simply, cozy minimalism is a reaction to extremes. A few decades ago, interior design followed the motto of “more is more.” We saw rooms crammed to the gills with big, heavy furniture pieces, layers upon layers of fabrics, and more accessories than we could count. Rooms often felt cramped, even if they were sizable—it was just a little too much.

Then, trends headed in the opposite direction, as ultra-minimalism became the style du jour. People began to favor huge, nearly-empty rooms that were based entirely on functionality. Furniture styles became slim and lightweight, and there was hardly an accessory in sight, yielding interiors that often felt stark and overly clinical.

Cozy minimalism works because it’s a happy medium. This look utilizes the best parts of a function-forward design and combines them with just enough aesthetic detail to make your interiors feel comfortable and welcoming.

functional base

Start by building around a functional base. Image: papac media AB

Create a functional base

When building a cozy minimalist look, it’s absolutely key to make functionality the star. Do this by building the room around your furniture. If you’re designing a bedroom, let the bed be the focal point without much else to distract the eye. If it’s a living area, focus your design on one main seating area. The key is to let the rest of your design elements play a supporting role to the furniture, rather than stealing attention away.

In terms of which furniture you should use: borrow from a minimalist aesthetic. Focus on choosing pieces that are sleeker, without too much visual weight to them. Keep it simple—you’ll have plenty of time to focus on aesthetic additions later.


Infuse ‘coziness’ by adding in plenty of texture. Image: Naor Suzumori Architecture D.P.C.

Layer in some texture

Once you have the base of the room in place, shift your focus to the “cozy” part of the equation. For that, you should focus on layering design elements together. In particular, you’ll layer pieces that create a contrast with each other texturally. Doing so helps the room appear much more interesting, and also helps it feel purposefully put together.

The above photo is an excellent example of layering the right way. Remember: texture refers to the way an item looks like it feels. In the photo, a woven rug, a rough wood nightstand, plush bedding, and a soft and furry blanket all intermingle, creating intriguing visual interest.

You don’t have to follow these layers exactly, but the goal is to create a sense of contrast between each one. One word of caution: As you select the items you intend to layer, make sure they have enough in common to somehow tie them together. In this case, the designer stuck to a neutral color palette, but you could also layer by using a recurring color or pattern.


Accessories give cozy minimalism its personality. Image: Issie-Mae Interior Design

Don’t skimp on accessories

Other than texture, accessories are the best way to add interest to a cozy minimalist room. An “accessory” is considered as anything that adds aesthetic value to a room. In some cases, it can also serve some sort of functional purpose, but that’s not always necessary.

If you’re stuck on which kinds of accessories to add to the room, here are a few common examples:

  • Area rugs
  • Throw pillows and blankets
  • Wall art and mirrors
  • Decorative bowls and trays
  • Coffee table books
  • Candles
  • Picture frames
  • Plants, flowers, and vases
  • Décor items

Adding in accessories is all about providing variety while preserving balance. You’ll want to add in enough of these items so that the room feels intentionally designed, rather than hastily put together. However, at the same time, your space shouldn’t feel cluttered. Use your best judgment to find the happy medium between the two, and don’t be afraid to tweak your design as you go along.

Cozy minimalism

Why not give cozy minimalism a try in your interiors. Image: Scandinavian Homes

Cozy minimalism works well because it provides your space with the best of both worlds: practical functionality and minimalism, with none of the starkness. If you’re ready to join the trend, keep this post handy, and create the perfect balance for your home.

What do you think of cozy minimalism design? Will you be trying out this look in your own home? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Your Renovation on Budget

renovation on budget

It is possible to keep a renovation on budget. We’ll tell you how. Image: Darren James Interiors

Keeping a renovation on budget is a top priority for a lot of homeowners, but many find it much easier said than done. Renovations are variable by nature, so if you don’t stay on top of your costs and fees, they can easily add up — and leave you with a final bill you’re unprepared to handle.

We’re here to help prevent that. With just a little planning and diligence on your end, it’s completely possible to keep your renovation budget under control. Don’t believe us? Keep reading. Below are some of our best tips for staying on top of your remodeling costs. Whether you are renovating now or in the future, it never hurts to be prepared.

stay realistic

Start your project by making a realistic budget. Image: Arbib Hughey Design

Be realistic from the start

Too often, when people try to save money during a renovation, they make the mistake of setting their budget too low. They try to cut corners by saying they’ll do work themselves or shop around until they find wholesale materials and create their budget using these anticipated figures. And if they’re unable to stick to these promises, they’ve already set themselves up for sizable overages.

The better thing to do is be honest about how far you’re willing to go to save money, even if it ends up inflating your initial budget more than you’d hoped. If you know you’re not one for DIY, be realistic about how much it will cost to hire a pro in your area. Work your budget off of a middle-of-the-road estimate rather than the most affordable.

Remember, the whole point of having a budget is to feel prepared. If you work out realistic figures and decide those numbers are too expensive, you can always hold off on the renovation while you save up enough money.

specific details

Give contractors specific details about your vision for the project. Image: Highgate House

Get specific about what you want

Have you ever gotten quotes from contractors only to have them come back with wildly different estimates? If this has happened to you, it’s likely you weren’t able to offer many specifics when talking about your vision for the project. This led the contractors to fill in the gaps with their best guesses, which may or may not be in line with what you’re hoping for.

When you have to stick to a budget, specificity is one of the best tools at your disposal. The more you can tell your contractors about what you want the end product to look like, the closer they’ll get to a realistic estimate of your final bill. Ideally, your goal should be to get so specific that the only variances between each company’s estimate are labor costs and fees.

To pull this off, you need to do your research. Before you hire a contractor, make sure you have a clear picture of what you want the end product to look like. Think about the materials you want to use and what changes you want to make to your current layout. Use sites like Freshome as a starting point for design inspiration.

stick to the plan

Don’t let changed plans blow your budget out of the water. Image: The House Designers

Stick to the plan

Once a remodel is underway, it can be tempting to add on to it. All of a sudden you may find yourself standing in your kitchen remodel, looking at the dated flooring in your living area and thinking that could use a makeover as well. While it may be easier to take care of that project while your house is already torn apart, if sticking to your budget is your first priority, we’d advise against following this urge.

If you keep adding to your project’s to-do list — or changing your mind about what you want midway through — it’s going to come at an added cost. Plus, you likely won’t have as much control over what those costs will be. At that point, you’re at the mercy of your contractor’s judgment and you likely won’t even know the full extent of the charges until you have the final bill in hand.

Instead, it’s best to stick to the plan you have in place. File away that other project on your mental to-do list of home maintenance tasks and treat it as it’s own entity. Take the time to plan and budget it the same way you did your current remodel. That way, even if it happens shortly after this project, you’ll feel in control of your spending.


Leave room in your budget for unexpected incidentals. Image: CMM Custom Homes

Plan for the unexpected

That said, even the tightest remodeling budgets need to have wiggle room to cover unforeseen expenses. Sometimes remodeling uncovers a maintenance issue that needs to be taken care of and sometimes it really is worth the cost of changing your vision along the way. Plan for these costs ahead of time, so you’re not surprised as they crop up.

Conventional wisdom says to add 15-20% on top of your winning contractor’s estimate to safely account for these contingencies. That may seem like a lot, but this is one occasion where it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t have enough room in your budget to cover that amount, you may want to take more time to save or scale back the project.

renovation on budget

Use these tips to help you finish your renovation on budget — or even under. Image: Evens Architects

Let’s face it: It’s incredibly easy to blow your budget out of the water when remodeling your home. While keeping the renovation on budget may take more work than letting the costs add up, it’s far from impossible. Let these tips help you pull it off. Whether you’re planning a renovation now or sometime in the future, this advice can make all the difference in your ability to keep the budget under control.

Have you ever budgeted for a remodel of your own? Do you have any tips or advice to add to this list? Share them with us in the comments.

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Welcoming Spring (and the Most Gorgeous Roses I’ve Ever Seen)

Spring is arriving in full force in Atlanta. For this house, that also means COLOR.

I have an early spring habit. Every year, I tell myself that I need to be patient and wait out the month of March. Because in Atlanta, March will get blissfully warm for several weeks, starting near the end of February. But it’s a trick. A stealthy, mean trick.

Just when I put full faith in the weather that spring has finally arrived, that I should be prepping for spring gardening — that’s when the last freezing bit of weather comes around and threatens to ruin everything.

But do I actually listen? Noooooope. Every year, I get so excited about adding COLOR to the yard that I skip ahead. This time though, I let the purple phlox I planted several springs ago to give me the go-ahead:

And just as I wanted the creeping phlox to do, it’s been spreading and filling in, practically blanketing the entire bed!

(P.S. I decided I’ll be adding photo cards like the one above for my plants throughout the year so you can pin them and save them for garden ideas. I have had so much trial and error in certain parts of the house that these will be handy for new gardeners who are looking for easy-care ideas.)

After eight years of practice, I guess I’m getting pretty decent at keeping plants alive. But I’m not going to stop there. Of course not, right? Gotta up the ante and challenge myself. This year, I want more than hydrangeas and phlox and shrubs. I want roses.

The side garden: finally figuring things out

One of the things I’m most anxious to get in the ground are these gorgeous multi-colored roses (“shrub trees”) that will go along the side of the house.

Those of you who have followed for a while will recall this area, but probably only after seeing another picture of it:

The garden area next to my house has been one of those long-term, dangling projects I just haven’t been able to figure out. I’ve given it a number of attempts, tried with some discount plants, but never a proper “plan” for what to do. It’s long, and narrow, and it runs along the pathway that separates me from the neighbor’s fence and goes to the backyard gate. It also gets full sun, which gives me a lot of options. Too many, maybe? Perhaps that was the cause of my indecision all along.

Last spring, I made a practical upgrade by inserting a cement slab for the trash can and recycling bin. As of this year and with K moving in, the recycling got to a point where I needed a second full-size bin rather than a small container. The slab was the perfect size!

But obviously, this isn’t exactly charming to see at the front of the house (you can actually see the first section of this side garden from the street. I chose this spot, though, for other reasons that I covered back in this post). So, the only real “plan” I had in place began a couple of years ago when I made a frame for a wooden screen (intending on using it to hide the bins once the slab was in).

I finally finished it and installed it in the front, which perfectly hides the slab and two full-size bins. This is one GIANT leap in the right direction for this garden.

And wouldn’t ya know it? I figured out one of the biggest obstacles the yard has had for years, and boom: the very next week, my side garden got the burst of inspiration it was desperately needing.

The other day, I saw these beautiful roses at Lowe’s. They are two different varieties, but they have grown together in a single pot, producing “white iceberg” and “burgundy iceberg” flowers simultaneously. They are fragrant and full of buds and ready to be planted. Gorgeous, right? I got so excited, I bought all I could find at the store.

Over the weekend, I planted all that I bought, but I underestimated how many I’d need. I’ll have the full before & after of the garden when I gather up a few more and get them in the ground.

Starting a veggie garden!

Another first: K has been insisting we start a veggie garden (for over a year, actually). So, we bought the seeds, the starter stuff, and are going to build a couple of garden beds for the backyard, near to where the shed is going in. I’ve never grown my own food before (my parents had a small garden but I didn’t really work on it with them), so I’m pretty much letting K take the reins until things start to grow. I’ll admit, I’ve already had a lot of fun watching the little starter pods expand and putting in all the seeds (I’ll go through the whole process once they’re ready to transplant… a few look like they’ve already started to seed so that should be just a couple weeks!).

So, I guess that’s 2 projects down, which were immediately replaced with 2 more? The way it goes, I guess. There are several other projects that are also in various completion stages too (even if you’ve seen some of the posts on Instagram, you’re in for a treat on Wednesday with the Murphy bed update for Dueling DIY!). Are you anxious for spring, too? I feel like I’ve been stir-crazy all winter, so I’m hopping from project to project just as fast as I can. Are you getting a chance to plant anything yet?

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Welcoming Spring (and the Most Gorgeous Roses I’ve Ever Seen)


The Secret to Small Space Design? Go Big!

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A small living room featuring unexpectedly large elements that work, visually and functionally. Image: Bhavin Taylor Design

Just because you have a tiny space doesn’t mean you should have tiny furniture. One of the biggest design mistakes for a room of any size is cluttering it with small pieces. But the secret to successful small space design is just the opposite: choose the largest pieces possible.

First, buy big

It may sound counterproductive, but, when shopping for small space furnishings and decor, buy your choice of the following items in the largest size that will fit:

  • Chandelier or pendant
  • Area rug
  • Wall art
  • Sofa or sectional
  • Ottoman (that can double as a coffee table)
  • Bed

You won’t be able to fit as many items into your room as you initially envisioned, but that’s good thing. Fewer pieces, in a larger scale, will make the space look bigger and feel more functional.

Next, hang a giant mirror

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A small galley kitchen looks twice as big, thanks to a mirror wall. Image: Domus Nova

A mirror works its magic in a small space by reflecting light and doubling the sense of space. Add the largest mirror you can fit. You can either stand a mirror on the floor and lean it against a wall, or create a mirrored wall, as in the kitchen pictured above.

Then, find the biggest bed you can fit through the door

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With a big bed as a centerpiece, a small bedroom appears larger than it actually is.
Image: Thorp

A bedroom is where you go for rest, so do you really need a desk, TV, sitting area, or even a dresser? Maybe not. Prioritize your furnishing with the most important element of the bedroom: a bed. If you have any space left, consider adding a nightstand or a wall-mounted shelf to double as nightstand. Don’t forget a lamp!

Another way to maximize space is by pushing the bed up against the wall, as shown below.

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Minimal furnishings are used in this bedroom. Notice the large art canvas on the wall, which expands the visual feel of the room. Image: Norden & Klingstedt

Forget about negative space and add build-ins

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A small dining nook with built-in banquettes, allowing up to 10 people to dine together. Image: Aflux Designs

Having space around your furnishings is nice — if you live in a large home or apartment. But all that nice negative space does nothing for you when you have guests over. Make best friends with your walls and add furnishings to the size and length of the space itself, such the custom banquette built-ins in this tiny dining room.

Lay down the biggest rug possible

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A small living room cuts the clutter. Add a large sectional, and a large, patterned rug that defines the space. Image: Entrance Makleri

One of the first things the eye notices is what’s on the floor. Want to make your tiny space look larger? Add the biggest rug you can fit. The best way to find a perfectly fitting rug is to measure the open area your buying your rug for, and purchasing a rug just 2-3 inches smaller, all around. That way, you create a visual border that doesn’t look like carpeting. Go with a bold pattern  — the larger-scale the pattern, the better.

Go big on decorative elements

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A small, narrow dining space is overshadowed by the stunning, large wall canvas and ceiling pendants. Image: Christopher Elliot Design

What’s the first thing you notice about the dining room pictured above? It’s probably not the impossibly narrow dimensions of the room. The large, dramatic pendant lamps and wall-to-wall canvas make this small, narrow space look far bigger (and way more awesome!).

Fill the living room with a sectional

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The sectional is the main (and most used) feature in this small London apartment. Image: Paul Craig

What do you use the living room most for? Sitting and lounging, with friends and family, or by yourself. Designate the majority of the space to seating, and skip the side tables and smaller sofas and chairs. A larger sectional, as shown in the image above, is extremely versatile. There are some great apartment sectionals similar to the one above, designed just for tiny living.

Use a big ottoman (or 2) instead of tables in the living room

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A small, contemporary living room is very functional (and modular) with just a single, arm-less sofa and 2 large ottomans. Image: Kelly Deck Design

There’s a good reason to skip the coffee table and go with a big ottoman: you’ll use it more! An extremely versatile piece, an ottoman works like a coffee table if you place a tray on top. Or, cozy it up to your sofa or sectional to create a large daybed or lounge. As yet another alternative, move it elsewhere, your dining area, for example, and use as a bench or spare dining seat.

If you’re planning to move the ottoman around, pick an ottoman with wheels to make your life easier. And go with a storage style that opens up to hold blankets, magazines and other items.

Now that you know the secret to expanding the feel of your small space, give it a shot. Start by de-cluttering and getting rid of excess furnishings. Reintroduce the most essential elements, in the largest size possible.  And enjoy!

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