Sunday, 27 February 2011

And then there was light!

Let the entry to your house create a warm welcome for your guests!

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So whether you have a grand entry or a narrow corridor, you can use lighting to make the entrance to your home inviting.

With today’s open floor plans you will find the space is often not clearly defined in the entry. This might at first glance make the lighting design tricky; do not despair, help is at hand.

But safety first and yes you are now thinking oh dreaded and frustrating three words (health and safety) but trust me, the last thing you want is someone having an accident, I am sure you do not want their face to come into contact with your floor as soon as they enter, oops.

So are there any changes in elevation? If so they need to be properly illuminated and you definitely want to be able to see who is entering. Also remember that stairways must have good lighting for safety so to prevent accidents, stairs should be lit from top to bottom with switches in both places so that it is convenient to turn off lights when no longer needed.  Now you have checked this out let’s get your creative juices flowing.

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You can highlight features like artwork on the walls and let the light bouncing off the walls act as accent lighting.

In very large hallways overhead lights alone will have a hard time adding warmth and atmosphere. Throughout my lighting postings I will be forever telling you to layer lights; the use of several light sources at different levels works wonders while adding interest to the space. For accent lighting, use matching wall up lighting to complement the hanging hallway pendant or chandelier. Always mount wall fixtures above the eye so that the lamp source is not visible. This creates a wonderful effect of illumination that reflects off the walls and into your space. 

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Tips on lighting your hallway, foyer or stairway:

·         Hang a mirror to add a special decorative touch to a foyer.
·         Place a small table lamp on a console next to a mirror.
·         Add a dimmer and really set the tone of your room.
·         Incorporate recessed lighting to highlight a specific feature in your hallway while adding safety. 

When choosing lighting for your hallway, foyer or stairway, consider the following:
Size the decorative fixture to the space; not all hallways can accommodate a large chandelier, so make sure you get the right size. But if you have a larger space then fit a larger light fixture in order to provide light for the entire space. If you are lucky enough to have a high, open ceiling space, consider a chandelier or decorative pendant lamp that looks attractive from the top of your stairway or mezzanine. 


You have now entered the home so in my next posting I will be taking you through to the living room.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Light; transform your environment

Light is a basic human need, it is necessary for sound mental health and deprivation can be harmful.

Did you know that if you pair colour with low energy level illumination lamps it creates an environment where people lower their voices to respond to the hushed, quiet atmosphere? 

And as Sally Storey said " If things are moving so quickly for a lighting designer, it’s very hard for the general public to keep up."

That brings me to today’s blog, I want to show you that it isn't as terrifying as you might think. So let's talk about lighting. 

A well planned lighting scheme can bring a house to life so ideally it should be thought about at the start of a home refurbishment or new build. Start by deciding where your furniture and paintings are going to be positioned and yes you will find that sometimes there is more than one possible furniture arrangement, so you need to design the lighting in order to suit the different configurations. 

Do provide enough sockets in the corners of the living room; at some point you will be requiring them for lamps but remember not to go OTT. Also in a large living room you will need sockets in the centre of the room, this can be hidden under the sofa and furniture.

When planning a scheme you must consider ambience lighting (overall illumination), task lighting (i.e. reading, preparing and cooking food) and accent lighting (i.e. highlight art, houseplants and window treatments). Also by layering lighting you create interest and a good way of doing so is to use shelf lighting; either in a kitchen display, bookshelves or in the bathroom.

Lighting can:

·         Enhance a space
·         Define features & zones
·         Decorate surfaces
·         Set the mood
·         Add drama

Transform the atmosphere of your home with lighting by layering it. Fit dimmer switches wherever possible for a versatile lighting system; have ambience and accent lights on different switches so you can create diverse moods. Here are some ideas on how to create mood lighting.
·         Make sure your corridors and staircases are well lit in order to make your house feel homely and inviting.
·         In an open plan living area, you can use light to carve out different zones around the dining table or comfortable seating area.


Colour lights are used in stage sets to create moods. In a home, however, you should apply them with moderation; use colours at the red end of the spectrum—pink, orange, amber, yellow for a sense of warmth but for coolness, use colours at the cool end such as violet, blue, and green. But know that blue and green detract from the human complexion and can produce an unpleasant effect when used wrongly.

I’ve covered here the basics of good lighting design. Over the next few days I am going to illustrate how to tackle the lighting in each room.

Making small bigger

Organization is the key to making a small space look bigger

None of us want our small rooms to look poky so how do you make the space look bigger; with the right furniture and lighting all becomes possible! Learning a few tips and tricks on how to decorate a small space will make all the difference between the room feeling spacious instead of cramped.

1. Keep The Floor & Furnishings Light 
Keep the floor and the big pieces of furniture light and bright for a spacious atmosphere; try using furniture made from non traditional materials i.e.  Items made of acrylic or Lucite will keep the area feeling light and reduce the visual weight, you can add colour in with accessories. Buy accessories with lots of texture or detailing – and ideally choose some pieces with reflective qualities to bounce light around.

2. Replace Heavy Curtains

Replace a heavy curtain with a roman blind, sheer or voile drapes to allow maximum light into the room because having to accommodate stacked-back fabric will make your room feel cramped.


3. Buy Wall-Hung Furniture 
Choose wall-hung furniture to keep the floor space clearer and even a corner can feel like a real room. Try this in bathrooms or swap bedside tables for small shelf units. Essentially, the clearer the floor is, the bigger the room will feel.

4. Hide Away Clutter 
I know Clutter is inevitable but ensure your storage works really well by using every spare space to neatly hide away your stuff. The area under the bed can hide extra shoes and clothes in neat boxes to reveal extra space. With things neatly arranged and out of sight, the space will feel orderly and open.

5. Be Bold With Scale 
If you think that a small room needs small detailing, such as a tiny repeat pattern on wallpaper then you are wrong. A larger print will actually help expand the walls of your rooms much more. However, choose with care – keep the colour scheme simple, buy reflective paper if possible and don’t put it on all four walls.

6. Create An Illusion

It’s the oldest trick in the book for the simple reason that it works so a strategically placed mirror, can make a room appear substantially bigger and they can really brighten up a room plus are a great fashion piece for the wall. To achieve an illusion of depth angle the mirror towards a window, it will also allow you to maximize the benefit of the natural light. Another trick is to place mirrors in corners, allowing you to have a diagonal reflection which in turn expands the mind’s perception of the room.

7. Multipurpose Furniture

A coffee table that doubles as a chest for storing blankets/magazines or a sofa that turns into a bed (choose one that has its legs exposed); it allows the light to filter underneath making the entire room brighter and a lovely side chair or great rug can fill up the space without actually filling it up. Also dining tables with detachable leaves are effective ways of making small spaces appear larger. There are many furniture stores who specifically target apartment sized living so that you can buy luxurious, comfortable pieces that will fit your space.

8. Use colour to your advantage

Colour is one of the great tools we have for making spaces look and feel a certain way (Emotions through colour). In small spaces, the norm is to use light colours in order to make spaces feel more airy and open. But white walls can make an apartment feel bland and cold, so evaluate what hues you’re working within the upholstery of your furniture, the paintings you want to hang and the carpet/flooring and work from there. Light hues can be good neutral backdrops that offer a little more than a standard white.

9. Use multiple lighting sources

Make lighting your top priority because good lighting not only illuminates the room, throwing targeted light onto work areas but it also gives a room depth and character. Make sure to use ambient lighting which provides an area with overall illumination (chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures), task lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, preparing and cooking food, doing homework (recessed, track lighting and pendant lighting as well as floor and desk lamps.) and accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest (track, recessed and wall-mounted picture lights.  This form of lighting is used to highlight key objects and focal points in the home. For instance, many people like to display particular pieces of artwork or other collectible items in their home. By adding light to a specific object, it helps create and set a particular mood to the area also.

If you follow these few tips I believe that you’re well on your way to optimizing your space; remember this is where you eat, sleep, read in other words its where so much of your living happens so be adventurous and get started. Remember, decluttering is therapy for your home and your mind too! It works wonders with me…

Is your home sellable?

Tips to sell your home fast

If you want to avoid a headache then be smart and do some work upfront to make sure your house sells fast.

The economy is showing green shoots of recovery and we are told houses are selling. You’d be lucky though to find multiple buyers bidding up a house; sellers are in a competitive market and have to differentiate their property in order to make a sale.

Let’s revisit those famous house selling tips again.

1. Fix up the house

Now’s the time! Go throughout the house room by room, and take notes of all the things that need fixing i.e. oil those squeaks, paint the doors, and patch the cracks. Little things matter and they could turn off your buyers. If you noticed them, the buyer will too. Take the time to go around and fix those things one by one; fixing these small problems doesn’t have to be expensive, and yes it will take time and effort but you can always hire someone to do it or save money and  do it yourself if you are handy.

2. Decluttering

No one wants to buy a messy house. Make sure your house is clean and organized by removing as much clutter as you can, even if you have to store it so the house feels bigger and more spacious. One way of getting an idea on how your home should look is by browsing through magazines. Avoid using too many little rugs since they only add to the visual clutter. These are some tips you can follow:

§  Surfaces i.e. tables, desks, and worktops should be clear to show maximum surface space.

§  Remove clothes & shoes from wardrobes; put it into storage to heighten the impression of space.

§  Remove family photos from walls, shelves, and fireplace mantle. Potential buyers need to picture themselves living in the house, not looking at your family history.

§  Remove unnecessary furniture and put into storage; remember the clearer the floor is, the bigger the room will feel.

Too much stuff makes rooms look smaller, buyers will focus on your possessions rather than the home you’re trying to sell. Professional stagers will recommend removing as much as a third of your things to better show off your home.

I can’t overemphasize depersonalize and neutralize; the first items that should go into storage are family photos, collections and just about anything that shouts “you.” Rationalize your artwork and make bold decorating statements less obtrusive. Buyers find it hard enough to envision how their stuff will look in your space, by decluttering and  neutralizing your decor, you can help give them the blank canvas they need to imagine your house as theirs.

3. Clean up

Clean faucets and fixtures, remove fingerprints from the light switch covers, clean windows and hoover dog/cat hairs from everywhere including skirting boards. You’ll need to get rid of suspect smells as well; if your pets have had one too many accidents, you might want to think about replacing the affected carpet and underlay. If you are unsure of how your place smells, get your most forthright friend to have a few sniffs and tell you but please don’t have a row with your friend as a result.

4. Improve your home kerb appeal

Yes I know I am sounding like the House Doctor but first impressions do count, and for your home the name of the game is kerb appeal. I am not suggesting you spend a lot of money to improve your home; improve the appearance so it looks better than other houses in the street. It all can be done inexpensively.   Many buyers will drive by a property before going to view it.  Here are a few tips to improve your home’s kerb appeal:

§  Prune trees, trim hedges and mow your lawn.

§  Paint or clean the exterior with a power wash.

§  Repaint walls and doors in neutral colours.

§  Plant verges or window boxes with brightly coloured flowers.

§  Make sure the mailbox, house numbers, front light, and potted plants are in good condition otherwise replace them.

5. The Art of Home Staging

Home staging goes beyond decluttering, cleaning and decorating and happens after the steps above. If you feel it a bit daunting then you can always hire a staging professional and believe me when I say that home staging does help sell you house. If you want to give it a try then here are a few things you can do:

§  Put vases of fresh flowers on tables, a fruit basket on the dining table and arrange colourful cookbooks on the worktops.
§  Make sure the house smells fresh and airy; a good tip is to bake some brownies or brew coffee before a showing to give the house a pleasant aroma.
§  Make sure the temperature is right; you want the potential buyer to feel comfortable.
§  Make sure rooms are properly lit by opening the window treatments or turning on lights.
§  Arrange items on shelves, bookcases and the fireplace mantel to bring attention to predetermined areas.

6. Ask the right price 

I know it’s very difficult to sell your home for less than you expected but you can’t insist on an unrealistic price if you want to sell your home in today’s market. To find the right price, you can check other homes for sale in your area by checking web sites like Zoopla or get a valuation. You will be in a better position to compete against other sellers if you are flexible on the price.

7. Make the most of social media

This is the Internet age so you should use all means available to you specially the social media so use online venues to help sell your house i.e. put home for sale ads on tepilo or promote the property through your online social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You might also send out a copy of your house listing to people on your email list and ask them if they know anyone that might be looking for a house in your neighbourhood. Remember to use every channel that you have at your disposal!

8. Choose a good agent

While it’s now easier than it’s ever been to sell your house privately a lot of people still feel more confortable working with an agent. I am not saying that you can’t do it but not all of us have the patience and drive to deal with it so it might be better to hire a professional. Remember you’re in charge and a lot of money is being dealt with so be discerning; if you shop around for clothes and furniture why not do the same when it comes to choosing a real estate agent. Another important thing to remember is never to give an exclusive to your agent. You want to be able to fire your real estate agent if he or she turns out to be a disappointment.
One way of determining whether an agent is going to market your property effectively is to look at the details of other properties on their books; see how they’ve presented them. I’m sure you will have seen (and winced at) pictures of houses for sale with unwashed dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor and bathrooms in need of a good scrub.

If you follow these techniques you can sell your house that much quicker and even get more money for your home; now would you refuse a few extra pennies? Of course not…

So be creative!