Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Online Interior Design Services to Know

Calling a taxi, meeting a significant other, shoe shopping—these are all activities that have moved from the real to the digital realm over the past few years, for better or for worse. It’s little surprise, then, that interior design has followed suit. Despite the belief of many traditionally-minded aesthetes that a sofa can’t be purchased nor a room outfitted online, many companies have set out to do just that. AD endeavored to find out just what they all offer, and which are the ones worth knowing. Though our selections offer differing approaches and services, they all seem to have in common a twofold mission: access and passion. “First, we want to provide an affordable design service to as many people as possible,” says Decorist’s Gretchen Hansen. Second, is sharing the love designers feel for their spaces with others. “We ask the question ‘Why don’t I love the spaces I live and work in?'” explains Homepolish founder Noa Santos. “Ultimately, it’s about helping our clients love their homes by creating a great relationship between the client and designer,” Hansen says. “From there the sky’s the limit.”


The concept: Founder Gretchen Hansen hatched the idea for Decorist when she found a pair of Milo Baughman chairs she coveted but couldn’t find a way to fit into her home’s scheme. The process is a fitting metaphor for Decorist’s process and demographic. Hansen says most of their clients are fairly design-savvy and come armed with Pinterest boards and magazine cutouts of inspiration. “Our clients already have a strong sense of their style and they are looking for someone to partner with to make their dream room a reality,” the founder explains. Decorist’s partnerships are three-tiered: their roster of 400 designers are divided into Classic at $299, Elite at $599, and Celebrity at $1,299 (this tier includes talents like Celerie Kemble, Jeremiah Brent, Consort, and Campion Platt). The prices include two concepts, messaging with your designer, a personalized shopping list, and a final floor plan and setup instructions.

Though Decorist touts its established designers to attract a discerning clientele, it’s hardly relying on brand names to make a business, instead looking to new technology to incorporate into its interface. “Technology is changing the design landscape very rapidly, both in terms of access and visualization,” Hansen says. “We believe 3-D and AR/VR will dramatically transform the industry in just a few short years. Imagine a time when you can connect with a designer and have a full-fledged, photo-realistic visual of your new room and all of the furnishings, in minutes. You never need to meet the designer in person, go to a store, or select from swatches.” Though that may sound like a nightmare to more traditionally minded aesthetes who rely on a look-and-feel test and relish the process of sourcing, there’s certainly a market for that kind of convenience. “We’re pretty excited about that,” Hansen says.

Best for: The highly informed client; someone looking for a blue-chip designer at a discount rate.

Miles Redd’s 4 Steps to Stunning Painted Floors

When decorating a room, we usually get to work overhauling the walls, furnishings, and window treatments, but a key element is right beneath our feet. Renowned interior designer and decorator Miles Redd regularly uses paint to make the floors pop in his plush and playful spaces. “I love it in an entrance hall, where you’re covering a basic, not-so-special wood floor,” says Redd, who likes to bring a similar wow factor to dining rooms, kitchens, and children’s bedrooms. We asked Redd how to incorporate bold colors and striking patterns underfoot, and tapped Chris Pearson, his go-to painter, for technical tips.

Do the proper prep
You don’t need wood floors to benefit from the transformative powers of paint. Pearson, a specialty floor painter who’s worked on several of Redd’s rooms, has brushed up hardwood, linoleum, concrete, tile, and plastic flooring. No matter the material, Pearson stresses that the surface needs to be sanded down, vacuumed, and swept thoroughly before it gets a layer of primer. He suggests using a brush rather than a paint roller. “Rollers produce an orange-peel texture on the floor—the paint doesn’t adhere as well and it can affect the sheen,” he says.

Invest in quality paint
Springing for high-end paint is crucial to the floor’s longevity. Ask an expert at your local home improvement store to advise on the right type (either oil-based or latex) for the surface you’re working with. “Oil-based paint can yellow but is more durable and shiny,” says Redd, who favors richly colored, high-gloss paints from Fine Paints of Europe. Two to three coats should do the job.

Play with solids and patterns
“Black, white, and tan always work,” says Redd, but the designer definitely doesn’t shy away from more daring choices: “A color or faux marble in an interesting pattern is always transformative to a space.” Before you begin laying down painter’s tape, decide on the effect you want to achieve: A dark, sophisticated tone creates drama; a natural finish like faux bois adds subtle detail; and bold patterns, such as tumbling blocks, have immediate impact and can pull a room together.

Make it timeless
When choosing a pattern that will impress for years to come, it’s important to keep scale and continuity in mind. The size of the motif should be based on the size of the room, though Pearson tells us that the current trend is to go large. To help with the flow from room to room, he uses a combination of finishes—say, wood and marble—to coordinate the floor with design elements from around the house. In terms of making your floor last, physically, a final coat of polyurethane sealer is key to finish and protect it. High-traffic areas might require a touch-up coat every three to four years, but painted floors can stand up to plenty of wear and tear.

Common House-Maintenance Mistakes You Could Be Making

A house is a lot like a living thing: It’s great when the systems are firing on all cylinders, but when something isn’t right, it lets you know. According to a recent survey commissioned by Liberty Mutual Insurance, one-third of American homeowners (34 percent) have faced an unexpected home repair of $5,000 or more. But the truth is that for each of those all-too-avoidable catastrophes, there was a symptom that likely went ignored. “Most of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make revolve around what they are not doing,” says celebrity designer, HGTV personality, and Liberty Mutual Insurance consultant Chip Wade. “Neglecting routine home maintenance and ignoring signs of deterioration often cause permanent damage that ends up degrading the value of your home.” Learning to properly maintain your home can eliminate a lot of the guesswork involved in its upkeep. Here, Wade outlines seven of the biggest mistakes most homeowners make when it comes to their homes—and how to avoid making them in the first place.

1. Failure to winterize properly. “Often, homeowners overlook their sprinkler systems when the cold months hit and leave water in the lines,” says Wade. “When temperatures drop, sprinkler pipes can freeze and break. You may have a rupture and not even know it, costing you tons of cash as water drains into the soil, not to mention the cost to repair the broken sprinkler.”

2. Failure to address water damage. “This can have major consequences down the road,” Wade says. “When you don’t keep your spaces (like bathrooms) dry and in good repair, water damage and mold can start to occur. Within days and sometimes even hours of a condition like this not being addressed, water can penetrate into building materials to a point that can require complete replacement. If water damage stays for longer periods of time, mold can start to occur, which can lead to more costly removal or remediation.”

3. Ignoring appliance maintenance. “Your icemaker (higher-end models), for example, can start to scale up, especially if you have harder water that causes the mechanisms to stop working correctly. You also want to ensure that ice bins remain clean and sanitary. You can do this by emptying them out every month and cleaning with a bleach solution. Larger refrigerators often have water and sometimes air filters that need to be replaced.”

4. Indiscriminate power washing. “Pressure washing too close to masonry on the home is another mistake that can go unnoticed until it’s too late,” says Wade. “Homeowners often don’t realize that if you wash with too much pressure, it can cause mineral deposits to actually seep out of the brick and stone and cause white streaks that are virtually impossible to get off later. While you might think that you’re cleaning, you’re really ruining the masonry.”

5. Improper temperature control. “Closing a vent to help control room temperature might seem like a good idea, but most don’t know that this can cause the furnace to work harder and even lead to damage,” Wade says. “Furnace replacements can cost a whopping $3,500. I’d suggest calling in an HVAC contractor to take a look.”

6. Taping up the walls. “Avoid allowing kids to put tape and other adhesives on the walls. It may seem harmless, but it can pull the paper off the drywall, which can make repairs more difficult.”

Prepare the house for the winter

While the first flurry of the season can be a striking sight, with branches covered in crystalline icicles and yards layered with fluffy blankets of white, by the time the snow builds up over the winter, it can wreak havoc on your home. If you don’t safeguard against the cold, problems can range from the pesky, like climbing gas costs, to the downright worrisome, like flooded basements. “Whether you live in a house on the water or a home in the country, prepping a residence for the winter is one of the most important tasks for homeowners,” says Stephen Fanuka, who worked with Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles, on the remodel of Queen Bey’s former New York City apartment at One Beacon Court. “Pick two or three jobs to tackle each weekend so you don’t overburden yourself. If you start in early December, you’ll be done by Christmas.” Now is the time to set aside your holiday gift list and start checking off the items on Fanuka’s guide for an improved home this winter. See below for his top tips.

1. Trim your trees

“I always tell my clients to prune the trees and shrubs in their yards,” says Fanuka. “If there are any dead branches hiding in there, they could break off and go right through a window of your home during a snowstorm. You want the trees to be dormant before you start trimming, so the later in the winter, the better off the vitality of the tree. However, it’s not going to kill the tree if you do it in late fall. Once completed, take a look to make sure the branches are a good distance away from all windows.”

2. Reroute your ceiling fans

“If you have ceiling fans in your home, you can actually create an updraft by reversing the direction of the airflow,” says Fanuka. “Picture heat blowing from the ceiling vent: It’s blowing in a downward path, and if you switch the direction of the fan, it’s going to push and spread that hot air down to the surface of the room. This will allow you to increase the temperature by a degree or two, saving you not only energy but also money.”

3. Insulate doors and windows

“It’s all about energy,” says Fanuka. “You want to keep your heating costs as low as possible, and one way to achieve that goal is with insulation. Put your hand against doors and windows to see if you feel cold air coming through any cracks. If so, you can buy self-adhesive insulation strips, also known as weatherstrip tape, and stick it right on the doorframe. Sometimes, around the windows, caulk from years before may have dissipated. Go ahead and recaulk those openings, but remember to only caulk the outside perimeters, not the windows themselves.”

4. Review the roof

“You want to check your roof for missing shingles or holes,” says Fanuka. “If there is any damage to the roof, water from melting snow will find a way to get into your home during the winter. You also want to make sure your roof is stable enough to withstand heavy snowfall. If you have a flat rooftop, then blow the leaves, pine dust, and anything else off of its surface because those items trap in moisture when it rains, which, in fact, can create even more damage to the roof itself.”

5. Avoid freezing pipes

“Preventing pipes from freezing is one of the easiest tasks to complete in preparation for winter,” says Fanuka. “First, measure the diameter of the pipe and then go to your local hardware store and buy foam insulation wide enough to accommodate the pipes. Once you place the insulation over the pipe, you are finished. Keep in mind that you also need to be concerned about the water pipes that are against the exterior of the home and automatic sprinklers. With sprinklers, the pipes burst from frozen water stuck inside, so be sure to get all the water out or else you may have to buy a whole new irrigation system the following year.”