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Mar 26 2014

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Engaging the Senses through the Five Elements of Feng Shui

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Good feng shui engages all five senses. And while it is great to engage the senses, it is also important to not overwhelm them; your home should feel like your very own safe and peaceful sanctuary. Here are a few tips for your kitchen and bathroom to create the ideal feng shui environment within your home. Kitchen The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home. Whether it is the functionality it provides or its nurturing center, it is usually the room in which everyone – whether family members on an everyday basis or guests during social gatherings – congregates.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

The kitchen also happens to be the room with a natural balance of the five elements of feng shui, which include wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The stove is the home’s strongest fire element and should be the one appliance on which to splurge. Built-in water elements are provided with the sinks, and the metal element has particularly become popular in kitchens through stainless steel appliances. Cabinetry is usually made of wood, which brings in the wood element, and the Earth element can show up in a natural flooring type or countertop surface. So you can see how the kitchen has a natural balance of the five elements, which adds to why it is oftentimes the most favorite room in the home. It is important to pay attention to your clients’ kitchen flooring as well. Surfaces such as tile, granite, concrete and slick surfaces are considered to be yang in nature. Yang energy is more active and modern, whereas yin is quieter and cozier. Hardwood flooring has and will always be one of the most common types of flooring because it gives the warmth of yin energy but also provides a modern feel.

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Bathroom The bathroom is a space over which we don’t have much control. It is aligned with drains and plumbing, so it can be difficult to move the shower, sink or toilet. To make the bathroom more peaceful, I would suggest tying a red ribbon around the plumbing pipes coming in and out of the sink. The ribbon should be preferably nine inches long and doesn’t necessarily need to be seen. This is a feng shui methodology technique that uses the color red to neutralize the negative draining energy.

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

As part of your bathroom project, you could also hang an octagon-shaped, beveled mirror on the outside of the bathroom door threshold to reflect the negative energy out of the space. Unfortunately there is no good “place” for a bathroom with regard to feng shui, however, some places are better than others. If you are renovating, it is best to not place the bathroom door opening near the kitchen. The energy of the kitchen is the complete opposite to that of a bathroom. The kitchen takes in and nourishes, while the bathroom excretes waste. I suggest placing the bathroom near family-oriented spaces, such as the living room, den or between bedrooms.

Our clients naturally feel better being surrounded by a balance of the five elements of feng shui, so including those in your kitchen and bath projects is a must. I believe in using feng shui methods to connect every aspect of the home – from the foundation to the roof, to the physical and mental state of the mind and body.

- Tisha Morris is a feng shui consultant and the author of Mind Body Home, a book that focuses on the energetic connection made between homeowners and their homes.

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Mar 18 2014

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Faux Real: Digital image printing comes of age

When I was a girl growing up in the 60s, DIY wood paneling was all the rage for creating a quick new look at home. I remember my father paneling a kitchen in a version of ‘pickled’ oak, 4×8 sheets of it nailed over old wallpaper. My mom added her decorating touches to it with a black and white checkerboard vinyl floor and finished it off with a duet of appliances in avocado green. So chic!

So that was my initiation into faux wood, followed by the ubiquitous “walnut” desks and TV stands made of plastic. So suffice it to say, it would take a lot to change this designer’s perspective on anything that mimics real wood, but isn’t. For that matter, my opinion on anything that’s fake, or ‘faux’ as it’s now known, hasn’t been so great.

But that has all changed. Digital printing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for creating products for the home that are insanely gorgeous – from porcelain tile, countertops, fabrics, wall covering and more. As a designer who’s focused on sustainability, preservation of our natural resources is my top priority. Being able to specify a porcelain floor tile or countertop that looks EXACTLY like stone and saves our planet gets my attention every time.

A couple of years ago I started seeing digitally printed tiles that are pretty amazing. There are some wonderful renditions of concrete floors, wood planking and stone. The beauty of these floors goes well beyond their looks. Virtually maintenance free and made to last, these tiles are a stylish, sustainable choice.

Italian tile company Ceramica Serenissima created this concrete look tile that comes in several sizes and color ways.


                                                                               “Metropolis” by Ceramica Serenissima

Crossville Tile, a Tennessee-based company, has introduced two great lines called Reclamation and Speak Easy.

Digitally printed porcelain tiles with wonderful texture, they’re a fresh take on aged wood with an urban edge. Both Speak Easy and Reclamation are manufactured in the U.S. with Crossville’s EcoCycle manufacturing process and contain a minimum of 4 percent recycled content and is Green Squared certified.

Speak Easy

                                                                                      Speak Easy Sweet Georgia Brown


                                                                                         Reclamation Whiskey Lullaby

When it comes to countertop choices, Formica’s 180 FX line of stone and wood laminates has become a real game-changer. Using digital imagery and creating large-scale formats, you can now create a beautiful surface that’s affordable, and yes, sustainable. The current trend in rare, textured woods was captured by Formica in a pattern called Black Walnut Timber. Taking a cue from the iconic furniture maker George Nakashima, it includes the natural fissures in the wood and even the butterfly joinery detail.

Formica 180 FX

                                                                                             Formica’s Black Walnut Timber

Here’s another of Formica’s 180 FX stone tops in Dolce Vita. It not only has the large-scale look of a slab of granite, but also has the company’s new Ideal Edge detail, which eliminates the tell-tale black line, delivering an even more authentic look. Adding to the beauty of this top is the stainless steel sink by Karran. Yes, you can now have an under-mount sink in a laminate top! The result:  a stunning, high-end look with an affordable price tag.

3420_DolceVita 180fx_Bullnose1

Now you can paper your walls with wood. This realistic wood wallcovering from Walls Republic would look fabulous in a beach house or a country bedroom. Dreamy! Priced at $89 for a 21-in.-wide x 33-ft. bolt, it’s a pretty, affordable way to get a great look without having to hire a carpenter (or cut down a tree!).

Walls Republic

                                                                                      Brushed wood Tuscan R1879

So call if what you will, fake or faux, I love the way this digital world we live in has changed the way we design. If we can create gorgeous interiors while saving our precious natural resources, I’ll take fake over real any day.

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Feb 05 2014

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New Location, New Contacts, New Products

The second day of KBIS ended with more than sore feet for me. As I made my way around the showroom floor, I learned just how many ways companies are becoming more and more creative with addressing clients’ demands and meeting the changing industry.

At the Wellborn Cabinetry press conference, I heard from Angela Wellborn O’Neill on the company’s move towards a solution for entire homes and the new colors that have been introduced, such as the color “cloud.” My favorite part was the small space design showcasing the Portland door style. Even though it was a small space, the kitchen, banquette, entertainment center and living area were integrated in such as way that it seemed intimate but not squished. Trends such as the driftwood finish in the kitchen and the simple edged countertops showed how the cabinetry can be mixed and matched.


I was also particularly drawn to Estudio Group, LLC’s collection of green products. By taking concrete tile, brick, quarry tile and recycled glass, beautiful backsplashes and countertops could be created for a sustainable solution. EnGrain Wood Countertops also offered a gorgeous and durable eco-friendly product with a line of more than 20 wood species and color options for counters.

As usual I was awed by Rev-A-Shelf’s fun and innovative collection of shelving. It’s amazing how organization inside your cabinets can affect the rest of your kitchen. The “Cloud” blind corner cabinet organizer is still my favorite, with its sleek shape and smooth movement.


Looking forward to seeing more innovation tomorrow!

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Jul 29 2013

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The Art of Using Color in Design

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. Photo by Peter Christiansen Valli

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. Photo by Peter Christiansen Valli

Color brings life to your décor. It can lift your spirit and inspire you or calm you down; even make you look better if used correctly. So why does color intimidate most people even though we all love it? The answer is simple. Color is powerful. It is as multifaceted and moody as nature but doesn’t have to be daunting to use if you follow some basic guidelines.

You don’t want your clients chirping, “It’s too bright, too loud, too bland, too bold, too, too, too…not me.” But your never want them to retreat to a bland safety zone ( no more Navaho White please!).

Even we designers can be less than confident at times and fall back to beige. But, no one would want to live in a monochromatic world, right? Well, neither do your walls and ceilings – so don’t limit them, wow them.

A little forethought will bring much success and help allay any fears of selecting the wrong wall color … for the 33rd time! Most importantly, the rewards of personalizing a home and using color correctly are great.

Pantone 101

Color doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it is affected by everything around it. Exposure of natural light (north, south, east, west) tints color, as does indoor light. What’s happening outside — how much greenery is filtering the color or reflecting onto it from outside, depth of overhangs causing shadows, color reflecting and bouncing off itself — will either enhance or subdue your desired effect. This is why you test paint in a space before committing. I have noted below some simple but effective general and specific tips for using color successfully in your home.

Walls & Ceilings

Begin with checking the direction of your natural light. Rooms with north or east exposures will have the coolest, bluest light. Colors that do best in cool light are on the warm spectrum (yellow-orange-red-brown values) or colors having these undertones.  Warm color provides the counterbalance to cool natural light. Rooms with south and west exposures use the opposite rule. Bright and direct natural light should be counterbalanced best with cool color values (violet-blue-teal-geen).Rooms with south and west exposure can take much stronger, more intense color because it doesn’t disappear in the harsh exposure.

Secondly, don’t just paint ceilings “Ceiling White.” For a soft, soothing, enveloping feel, tint ceilings to complement the wall color. This practice works well for rooms you want to be quiet and restful.

For drama, paint ceilings in high contrast using metallic paints like gold, silver and bronze, etc., or use dark/vibrant colors with a high-gloss finish. This will make your special statement rooms stand out.

To create height/air/coolness in areas such as kitchens and porches, paint the ceilings a pale, sky blue. There is a bonus beyond beauty for painting porch ceilings skye blue! Flying insects that build hives like wasps and bees are less likely to build a hive/nest in a blue ceiling supposedly because they have trouble distinguishing it from the sky. I may be giving away Grandma’s tricks of the trade and lore here, but in my experience it’s held true, and the look is pretty and refreshing

Distinguish Architecture

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. A combination of pale colors that coordinate with your walls, and white, can be used to call attention to fabulous crown moldings the way it was done in 18th-19th-century Europe.

Say “yes” to black! Every room should have a touch of black used in a not-so-ordinary way. Think windows and fireplaces. I decided to paint the windows of my house a bronze-black to give them a European elegance and also make the windows themselves feel larger and not broken up as they would if they were white.

I also always paint out the interiors of fireplaces with a heat-proof black paint — making the openings feel bigger. This also hides the heat and soot stains and prevents them from looking dirty.

Don’t be afraid to gild-the-lily occasionally. A touch of gold or silver leaf or paint added to crown moldings, wainscoting or fireplace surround details will add brightness, sparkle and vivacity to a traditional home. Use of contrasting color combinations on wainscoting and walls or in doorways is also an effective way to add drama to a room.

Creating Visual Interest

Red is almost always right. Most rooms benefit from using red, especially in the details. Incorporate red into your art by using red frames or mats for pictures, photographs or paintings. It’s especially effective for highlighting antique prints and Asian art, as I have done with antique watercolors over my fireplace.

Black is a great accent in accessories, lamp bases or used in one striking piece of furniture because it’s an anchor. Black is like the period at the end of the sentence.

Metals and metallic finishes add sparkle and reflect light, which enliven a room and even your outdoor areas. Any space, inside or out, can benefit from the spark it brings!

 - Kristi Nelson of KMNelson Design, LLC



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