Monday, August 23, 2010

Design Principles To Make Your Home Feel More Like Home

Cohesion, order and balance are the three design principles I strive to live by. However, I have to say with three kids younger than 5 running through our home, this has not recently been the case. We’ve been pummeled by toys and lots of molded plastic and have neglected the aesthetic and harmony of our interior.

So after a recent intervention, I emptied almost every room in our home to the shell in order to rethink and re-establish style for our family.

We had a lot of good things, but they weren’t necessarily in the optimal place, or they weren’t being placed into service correctly.

Before the redesign, we took an inventory of how we lived as a family, where we spent time and how we entertained in our space. Having a method to the madness has helped deliver my design principles.

An antique Italian chest and custom French bottle lamp mix among the casual elements of sisal, wicker and linen in Steve Rogers’ Overland Park home.
Photo Credit Roy Inman Kansas City Star

Cohesion comes first in the pecking order. When we first moved into our home, we undertook serious remodeling to bring the house up-to-date. We replaced the kitchen, bathrooms and interior doors and refinished all the hardwoods.

I have to say, though, I got a little crazy with paint, and after all the good renovation work, there was just too much happening with wall color. My new rule, one color on the walls and one color on the trim, allows artwork and decor to take center stage and do the visual heavy-lifting.

This rule also applies to flooring because too many surface changes can break up the visual flow. We use lots of sisal and layer with interesting rugs, but the hardwoods anchor everything.

Lighting is also a design basic. I use dimmers and varying wattage bulbs to create lighting moods. My favorite is evening ambience; 25 watt bulbs in lamps bring calm to the kids and slow us down at the end of the day.

When it comes to furniture, the design principle is different: I like to mix wood tones, finishes, textures and patterns to make a room come to life. I will never buy a furniture “set,” since there is little appeal in living in a furniture showroom.

This is where antiques and found objects play a vital role and create context for the room, helping to bring things into balance. I also caution on over-filling a room with furniture because it should always have a purpose (yes, even those family heirlooms).

We are a society of material possessions, and things can quickly overtake surfaces, shelves and walls. To combat the plethora of toys and books, I use large antique French market baskets to keep rooms picked up and looking pristine.

And while layering is interesting, I always resist the urge to over-layer a room and instead make large and impactful decor the focus. This design principle works well in both small and large interiors.

A good litmus test is to look at your interiors each season. How do they feel and function in the cold winter or hot, humid summer? I use natural fabrics and finishes that work in all seasons, and even take a nod from nature by using d├ęcor that connects the indoors with outdoors.

This also applies to seasonal decorating by using fresh greens and winter berries for holiday decorating or fresh cut tulips from the spring garden — easy and affordable. Balance means we are enjoying what we have, spending less time with clutter and distractions and more time with family and friends.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've been away for a bit....necessary so as to spend some time with three small children who are taking in the final days of summer before swimming pools close and text books open.

It's fun to watch my kid's - the wonderful transformation that is made as they discover, change and grow.

At 1, 3 and 6 they are in different places, doing different things.

They make me very happy and I love them...all 3.