Posts Tagged ‘ask kate’

Styling Traditional Wood Furniture

Monday, May 11th, 2015

I received an email from Sarah with a design dilemma, she like many has inherited a unique piece of furniture, it belonged to her grandmother and recently was restored by her father to its original wood state. Sarah wants to keep the heirloom buffet in her home, it has sentimental value, but her dilemma is how to create a stylish look with this piece that sits in her dining room.

grandmothers buffet

Personally, I love seeing wood pieces like this in a home, they add richness and warmth, and mixing pieces from different periods makes a home feel collected over time. The use of traditional wood furniture like this can be a purposeful placement by antique lovers, or a much treasured heirloom like Sarah’s that a family wants to keep.

In this case my first instinct is to change the wall color to anything other than brown with fresh paint or perhaps a wall treatment, and add a large scale mirror or art gallery  above. I might replace the pulls with something sleeker like these and place a large potted plant or tree to the right.

To style it there is so much she can do with decorative accents to create a layered appealing look. Here are a few examples I found where both bloggers and designers have tackled this same issue and styled traditional wood furniture in a contemporary way.

Below a gilded mirror and trio of classic blue and white chinoiserie accents (two vases, one lamp) introduce shape and color. Books and a smaller work of abstract art balance out the center of the arrangement.

traditional chest modern styling

the pink pagoda

A monochromatic white palette dominates this vignette, from the wall paneling to the shapely accents in an odd numbered arrangement; the purposeful use of white allows the piece to take the spotlight.

antique chest of drawers white objects

traditional home

You can’t go wrong with a pair of sleek lamps, partner them with a few smaller pieces of art in various scales and petite shapely objects, then add a touch of greenery.

traditional chest modern lamps

house seven

Simplicity is another approach, using a large scale mirror anchored by a pair of lamps with modern black shades. Prop another smaller piece of art in front and rotate a bowl of fruit or vase of fresh flowers weekly.

modern mirror lamps on traditional console

mark ashby design

Don’t overlook the opportunity to make a statement on the wall, beautiful grasscloth wallpaper and a glossy bamboo pagoda mirror add panache and a pair of ginger jar lamps introduces a lovely blue and white pattern.

wood buffet jessie miller

jessie d miller

Again a chinoiserie ginger jar always complements the style of the traditional chest, and an orchid in a polished silver champagne bucket adds an elegant touch. Above this chest hangs a mercury leaf mirror flanked by two gold leaf sconces, on top a smaller piece of abstract art and stack of books balances the vignette. 

ashley goforth traditional chest

ashley goforth design

What’s happening with the furniture around the traditional piece can also influence the styling. Below Tobi does an masterful job of layering blue accents in the form of books, artwork, and a lamp on this wood bedside chest, playing off the tones in the fabric on the headboard and wallpaper.

traditional wood bedside chest

tobi fairley

In Jana’s great room she styled her bookcase simply with varied book placement and floating artwork, but also notice the use of contemporary textiles to balance the traditional furniture in the room.

traditional bookcase

jana bek

This antique chest was modernized with lucite knobs then surrounded by a collection of art, and how fresh the space feels with that fabulous pink tufted chair off to the side. The styling on top is eclectic and fun, mixing a whimsical cachepot and fern with a unique sculptural lamp.

traditional chest lucite knobs

house beautiful

Pairing traditional wood furniture with contemporary accents can be done and successfully! How have you included antiques or heirlooms into your home’s design?

The Best Home Improvements for Resale

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

I was asked by a reader recently about improvements to make to her home before they put it on the market for sale. This is a really common question, every homeowner wants to know what to do to increase the resale value of their home so it stands out, sells quickly, and you get the most for your efforts. Here’s Kathy’s question:

“Hi Kate, I have a question. What improvements make sense if you plan to move? My husband and I plan to retire soon and live closer to the coast. I would love to do an inexpensive update to our kitchen but want to make sure it will not be money wasted. We would also love some ideas on what else can be done to the home for resale.”  – Kathy, Westford MA

Every home is unique in its needs for resale, and value is a truly a regional question, one that depends on the home, the neighborhood, and the market. Of course modern kitchens and bathrooms that have been remodeled are big sellers but there are other improvements that add value as well.

I thought Kathy’s question was a great opportunity to ask two experts on the subject, my husband Matt who is a real estate broker and appraiser, and Liz from It’s Great To Be Home, an experienced home flipper (she’s on her 10th!). They’re here to share the most cost effective ways that don’t include major remodeling. As Liz says, “Sinking lots of cash into the house so that someone else can enjoy it probably isn’t very high on your list of fun things to do. Instead, focus your energy and dollars on smaller improvements that will give you a lot of bang for your buck.”

Properly Operating Systems

Liz: As a flipper, my absolute favorite homes to buy are those that haven’t been touched by human hands since they were built…except to maintain the furnace, foundation, etc. Those issues always come up in an inspection, and 10 out of 10 buyers would rather put their money into a fancy new chandelier or surround sound instead of a new hot water heater so make sure the HVAC system is working properly and structural issues are addressed.

Matt: Make sure the slider and the screen door work properly too. Poor working sliders or broken screen doors turn buyers off quickly. Many people don’t realize that stuck sliders can be fixed easily by removing the door and replacing the rollers. It may take some time and a trip to the hardware store but it can be done for under $20. There are plenty of videos on YouTube which show the process of taking apart the slider.

welcoming entry

Freshen and Neutralize Paint and Flooring

Liz:  I don’t think that you need to run out and paint or recarpet your entire house to prepare it for sale (unless it’s really nasty) – most buyers will put their own touches on at least a few rooms once they move in, and I can tell you first hand how frustrating it is to put in new carpet only to have the new owners instantly replace it with hardwood!  However, you should definitely take the time to shampoo carpets and remove stains, as well as repair any chips, smudges or dings in the paint (no one wants to buy a grungy house).  Also, be sure to paint over any "polarizing" hues that would prevent buyers from being able to envision the space for their own needs – your hot pink craft room might not translate so well to a fellow pining for a man cave.

Update the Light Fixtures

Matt: Modern light fixtures say so much about a home. If the light fixtures are dated and dusty this is a clear indicator as to how the rest of the home has been maintained. Go into a home and see 1980s lacquered brass lighting everywhere and you have a good indication that the homeowner was likely a reactionary owner, only making upgrades when things didn’t work anymore. Light fixtures are very cost effective way of updating your home and showing the buyer that you are a more proactive homeowner than one that would fix only the things that broke down. However if your home possesses valuable vintage fixtures that complement the style of the home, it’s best to leave those in place.

updated light fixtures

 

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