Designing Our First Home

19. October 2014

2014 has been entirely about finding the perfect humble abode, setting up and settling in for us and this post is for all of you out there who are first time home owners or anyone looking to renovate their current space.

What do you do after all the boring paper work is done (phew!), you’ve got the keys in hand and you’re ready to move in? How do you turn an empty shell into what will become your home? Here’s a guide based on my personal experience:

1. Survey the house

I cannot stress how important this step is. Imagine you find the perfect bed. It gets delivered after weeks of waiting (because it’s the fancy kind as you’ve finally graduated from Ikea!)…but once it’s all set up you notice it’s just a few inches too long and you can’t fully open your closet door…yikes! The adage “measure twice, cut once” can be applied here.

As soon as the paperwork was done I dragged my husband to the house with both a normal measuring tape as well as a laser measuring tape (the laser isn’t a necessity but if you’re measuring a very large or tall space, it makes the job quicker). We used the laser to measure all the ceiling heights and the overalls for each room. The normal tape was handy in measuring all the fixed millwork in the bathrooms and kitchen. It took us a little over an hour and the husband was royally bored that I was measuring every corner but it was time well spent. You will see why in the next step…


2. Draw up your findings

I used AutoCAD to draw up a plan of the entire house as I’m familiar with the software on a professional level. If you’re not familiar with AutoCAD or don’t have access to it, you can use a variety of free online tools which allow you to create 2D/3D floor plans/models to plan your space such as Room Sketcher, Autodesk Homestyler and SmartDraw just to name a few. A lot of other professional softwares out there such as SketchUp allow you to download a trial version which can be used for this as well.
Below you can see the first floor plan I drew up showing all the measurements of the space:

Translating our survey information to AutoCAD

Drawing up the information from our survey using AutoCAD

After this stage I started to populate the plan with furniture, rugs and floor lamps in all the rooms. I played around with various configurations, two of which are shown below:

Trying out various furniture configurations

Trying out various furniture configurations

…Till I came up with this final version:
Plan_final copy
This took weeks of tweaking and changing my mind about what we wanted to buy which was frustrating at times. But it was extremely helpful to have something drawn to take with us as we shopped so that even if we changed our mind in the store, we had an idea of what sizes/shapes would fit best in our space. I’m happy with what we finally ended up purchasing and it’s definitely better to redraw on paper many times over than spending the money on something you won’t like or end up returning.

3. Research and Planning

This was probably the longest running part of my design process. I created a secret Pinterest board much in advance and started to dump all of the items that caught my eye from both physical stores and online sources. I had over 100 items on my board – furniture, lamps, rugs, vases to little organization baskets for under counter cabinets! I added the price of each item as I pinned them so I could make a budget.
I focused on the big furniture items first – Sofa, bed, the coffee and dining tables. With these narrowed down, it was easier for me to select smaller furniture items (poufs, chairs, side tables) to go my main furniture. Selecting the big items in terms of size/price first (like furniture and appliances) also gives you a sense of how much money you’ll have left for accessories, art and other stuff you might want!

Pinterest board showing some of my initial selections

Pinterest board showing some of my initial selections

4. Selecting Paints Colors

We both love bright hues, so this was an important step in our process. We wanted to see a bright color as soon as we walked in so when I saw the image below at A Beautiful Mess, I knew this hue was the perfect blend of our love for the brights and beach! I chose something inspired by this color but with a little more green in it (Benjamin Moore – Capri Seas).

Inspiration image for our paint color

Inspiration image for our paint color

Feeling a little restless about how it might turn out in the end, I put the paint color to test by clicking a photo of our living/dining area and applying my paint color in Photoshop! We were pleased with this little test and finalized this color! Another common way to do this is to buy a small paint sample from your hardware store, apply it to a small portion of your wall and live with it for a few days to see if you’re happy with it.

paint test 1

Testing out how the paint would look in our living room using Photoshop!

Testing out how the paint would look using Photoshop!

I wanted the bedrooms to be a little muted and cozy so I went for a shade of navy for only the back wall (Benjamin Moore – Symphony Blue) and left the rest of the space white (Benjamin Moore – White Diamond). For the bathrooms we picked a very bright yellow (Benjamin Moore – Sun Porch) at the hubby’s request who wanted to be in a room as bright as sunshine!

Screenshot 2014-10-19 16.46.31

Once we decided on all the paints I did a quick “paint diagram” showing the extent of each paint color for both ours and the contractor’s reference so there’s no room for mistakes:

Paint Diagram showing which walls need to painted with the paint colors we finally selected

Paint Diagram showing which walls need to painted with the paint colors we finally selected

In the next post I’ll share our experience on finding a contractor, dealing with some renovation mishaps and post photos of our finished home!

Hope this post has been helpful in breaking down the steps to what may feel like a daunting task! Feel free to ask me questions in the comments or share any other thoughts.

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Five Surface Treatments for the Fearless: Beyond Paint & Wallpaper

26. March 2014

In some of my previous posts I’ve talked about the two most common ways to enhance walls – using paint (see the posts on Painting 101: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3) and wallpaper (see To Wallpaper or Not to Wallpaper?)

Continuing the conversation, here are 5 alternatives for those special applications where a 2-dimensional color/pattern just won’t do. All of these options are available in the US and can be used for both residential and commercial applications:

1. Paperforms – 3D Wallpaper Tiles

These beautiful modular tiles are made of 100% pre and post consumer waste paper and come in 12″ squares. Installation Instructions can be found here and are as easy as using double sided tape for temporary installations or wallpaper paste for more permanent ones. Because it comes in modules, damaged tiles are easily replaceable without waste.


2. 3-form Profile Panels
Profile is a modular system which gives you the flexibility of selecting 4’x8′ panels or individual tiles. 14 patterns and 18 different finishes are available making it suitable for a variety of applications.
3. Offecct Soundwave Acoustic Panels
These gorgeous lightweight sound absorbing panels are made of recycled moulded polyester fibre and come in 24″ squares. The product is available in the United States and is manufactured in Sweden.
Soundwave panel swell
Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 8.10.38 PM
4. Unika Vaev Ecoustic Panels
These felt acoustic panels are tackable and come in a variety of thicknesses depending on the sound absorption requirements of the space. The panels are available in some amazing geometric patterns and sizes of 8′-11″ x 3′-11″.
5. Wall Art by Submaterial
Submaterial is a New Mexico based company which handcrafts some unique felt wall coverings as well as wall hangings both of which offer great textural quality.




So what do you guys think of these bold choices for your walls? Let me know in the comments!

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Categories: Art, Interior Design | Tags: , , , | 9 comments

A Home Lighting Makeover

25. February 2014

2014 began with some changes for consumers on the light bulb front in the US. Due to more stringent regulations, the 40 and 60 watt incandescent bulbs of the past (which generate light through a filament source) were put to rest. Longer lasting, higher efficiency incandescent bulbs are now out in the market. This great article over at Remodelista breaks the changes down in great detail.

As a designer I understand the importance of good lighting and what a difference it can make to how you feel in a space. So of course I was curious about this new generation of bulbs and couldn’t wait to test them out! Here’s the bulb used for this review:

GE-Lighting-Halogen-Reveal-75-Watt-Package-400x400 copy

I have to say I wasn’t expecting to see such a noticeable difference in my humble rental abode.

After installing the GE Reveal Halogen bulbs, we’ve been using our living room for longer hours and were inspired to reorient some of the furniture to make the space more conducive to reading/working. It almost feels like a new space now!

Lighting makeover_before after
Here’s what I noticed and you’ll be able to see this in the shots above:

  • These bulbs filter out the unsettling yellow-ish color seen in the ‘Before’ shot.
  • The light emitted resembles day light which I really like. The color seems to fall somewhere between a fluorescent and halogen which is a good balance in my view!
  • My living room and all the objects/furniture it contains look cleaner and sharper.

Not to mention the bulbs use $28% less energy which would definitely amount to some savings if your fixtures use multiple bulbs like mine. Apart from the above, the GE Reveal family of fixtures have a variety of options depending on what you use: LEDs, CFLs, track and recessed light bulbs as well as vanity and pendant light bulbs. You can find more information on them here.

At the end of the day you should decide what kind of lighting is most functional and appealing for your space and I hope this review is helpful to all of you in making that decision :)!

Disclosure: I received the GE Reveal Halogen Bulbs free of charge from GE Lighting. No monetary compensation was received for this review and the opinions expressed here are my own.

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Win a box of GE Reveal Halogen Bulbs and a $10 Target Gift Card

17. February 2014

Update: Thanks a bunch for participating everyone! The winner has been selected randomly via Rafflecopter and the box of GE Reveal Halogen Bulbs + $10 Gift card will be shipped to: Soha M., congrats Soha!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Great lighting is the cherry on top in any space, even the most well designed spaces can look drab without the right lighting. I’ll be posting my review on the GE Reveal Halogen bulbs soon and wanted to give all my readers a chance to win a pack of these (along with a Target gift card) this week! The give away closes next week on February 24th and I’ll be posting the name of 1 lucky winner here (selected randomly).

Here’s some useful information and the guidelines to enter:

Discover how GE reveal® light bulbs bring out colors & patterns that can go unnoticed. GE reveal® bulbs provide amazing clean full spectrum light that filters out the dull yellows of standard incandescent light bulbs.


GE reveal® light bulbs are now available at Target and with great savings using Target’s Cartwheel savings app. With the app, you can browse for savings ahead of shopping or while at Target, you can scan the barcode of any product to see if there is a Cartwheel saving. Download the Target Cartwheel app on your IOS or Android.

You can find a current discount on Cartwheel for 25% off reveal by searching for “GE reveal”. Offer expires 2/28You can also print and use the following coupon for even more savings:
$2 off GE reveal at Target - Expires 2/8

Here’s a video featuring four tastemakers discussing the importance of good lighting and how quick and easy it is to do a reveal® lighting makeover.

You can win the makeover experience by entering this contest. Just share this post on your social networks and let us know which room you would like to makeover with GE reveal® light bulbs!

To Enter:
1. Must be U.S. resident
2. Share this blog post on your social media and comment below.
3. Tell us which room you’d like to makeover. Here’s an example:
If I win #GEreveal bulbs+ #Target gift card, I’ll makeover my _____ with reveal’s beautiful clean light!
4. Hashtag #GEreveal + #Targetgiftcard

Enter this giveaway here!

* GE and Target are only providing the product and not running the giveaway.

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Emotional Retail Design

05. February 2014

While attending the Retail Design Show recently, I was treated to an inspiring talk by the Creative Director of Antwerp based design firm Pinkeye. As I’ve been designing various retail spaces, I really connected with what Rudd had to say about the role of design in the retail landscape. In fact, I think the ideas he shared are applicable to the design of any space. Here’s a summary of the talk combined with examples which I think illustrate the ideas well.

The Evolution of the Retail Landscape:

Whether it’s a service or a product, over the last decade retail brands have evolved from being transactional to making emotional connections with their costumers and cultivating brand loyalty. They’ve also come to realize the new generation of consumers have more choices than ever before and aren’t swayed through traditional advertising/marketing gimmicks. Social media makes it quick and easy for consumers to share feedback among friends and fellow customers. When customers love a brand they share that emotion with their friends, family and peers. In essence, businesses must re-evaluate their engagement with the customers both in their physical and online space.

What does this mean for a designer?

It means a functional, ergonomically designed space which meets the program and budget is the bare minimum. In order to stand out and make a lasting impression, the entire retail experience needs to be designed consciously – from the moment someone enters a store, their interaction with the salesperson, till they purchase a product and walk out of the store. We need to immerse ourselves in the experience a customer will have, think about how he/she will feel and find opportunities for improvement. We can create the environment which helps a brand make that emotional connection with the consumer.

  • It’s essential for a design team to understand the brand and it’s values and let their findings inform the design process. This video illustrates that well and reveals the successful collaboration between McEvoy Ranch (an olive oil retailer) and Gensler who designed their store at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

  • This project designed by Pinkeye is a great example of finding an opportunity for improvement and grabbing it! The Wasbar Launderette in Ghent is a laundromat which has been combined with a bar and hair salon. Customers can get a haircut while their laundry gets done or better yet, have a drink with a friend! The design of the space is equally charming sporting recycled furniture and vintage drawers which display the menu:


7. Pinkeye WASBAR

Wasbar Laundrette, Ghent (By Pinkeye)

  • The following example is an employment agency called Start People in Belgium which was re-designed by Pinkeye who treated it more like a hospitality project than a retail/office space. The result is a casual space and a pleasant experience for it’s visitors as opposed to a feeling of discomfort at the idea of visiting a staffing agency:
The transparent facade gives a clear visual of what to expect inside and creates an inviting feeling for the customer.

The transparent facade gives a clear visual of what to expect inside and creates an inviting feeling for the customer.


A bar/coffee shop inspired area for job seekers to search the system or discuss opportunities with consultants makes the experience comforting.

A bar inspired area for job seekers to search the system or discuss opportunities with consultants makes the experience seem as casual as visiting a coffee shop, hence less daunting.


This waiting area for costumers who have a complaint/feedback is inspired by hotel lobbies and will certainly take the edge off!

This waiting area for costumers who have a complaint/feedback is inspired by hotel lobbies and helps to take the edge off!

I hope this post will be helpful to fellow retail designers and want to end it with a great quote by Maya Angelou which Rudd used in his talk:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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‘Tis the season to be jolly and make Wreathes!

17. December 2013


It’s the holiday season and the merriment has begun all around! As the hubby and I are off to Seoul to visit his parents for the rest of this year I wanted to spend this past weekend doing my two favorite things: catching up with some dear girl friends and getting my craft on! In between sipping a glass of wine (or two ;P), catching each other up on the latest life stories and listening to holiday tunes we made these wreathes:

 Wreathe Adventures 2013! - 6

Inspired by this incredibly beautiful burlap wreathe posted at Darling Street, we made our own unique versions! Our local Michaels store had burlap fabric available in a variety of patterns from daisies to Parisian motifs, I picked the fun polka dotted one to wrap around the foam ring:

Wreathe - 3

We easily secured the burlap using nails and the rest was all about adding our own unique personality to the wreathes!

Wreathe Adventures 2013! - 1 copy

Hope this inspires your own holiday creation and that you have a merry time ahead :). Thanks again for reading and see you all again in 2014!


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Chic Chairs for Entertaining

11. December 2013

Today I’m excited to welcome a guest from the Arcadian Home Blog on PFOD! With the holiday season in full swing, I’m sure many of you are planning to entertain family and friends in the coming weeks. While you focus on planning the perfect menu for your guests, Mari from Arcadian Home is here to solve your seating conundrums with some great examples of chic chairs for entertaining. (Arcadian Home is an established retailer of furniture, lighting and other home accessories.) 

I hope you enjoy the post and have a delightful holiday season!

Hello, everyone! I’m Mari, here with a guest post from Arcadian Home blog. It’s a great place to find interior design inspiration for everything from beautiful buffet lamps to decorative pillows for the sofa or bed.

Today’s topic is chairs, specifically chic modern chairs that are perfect for entertaining. I’ve pulled together eight rooms with chairs that are beautiful and work well while making guests comfortable. Please enjoy!

Thanks to Charu for letting me visit for a bit.

~ Mari

Chairs for Entertaining

Ghost chairs are perfectly suited to large gatherings as they take up very little visual space making any room they’re in seem larger than it is. Here these clear armchairs work well around a long narrow dining table.


Chairs for Entertaining

Armless Ghost chairs look chic and elegant encircling a white Tulip table. Notice how light and airy the room feels giving lots of space to mingle.


Chairs for Entertaining

Bertoia wire chairs are also visually light, offering comfortable seating without impeding guest movement around the space. A modern pendant light in pure white is a great design choice over the sleek contemporary table.


Chairs for Entertaining

Dark and handsome Panton chairs may not be as light and airy as acrylic or wire chairs but they certainly are beautiful and comfortable. A conversation starter at any gathering.


Chairs for Entertaining

White Eames Eiffel chairs play well with other seating including an unexpected wide indoor swing. This large space is wonderful for entertaining.


Chairs for Entertaining

The Ant chair and its many look-alikes, one of which is seen here, offer another seating option that works beautifully in large or small spaces. These chairs are shapely, comfortable and space-efficient.


Chairs for Entertaining

Some chairs are designed with large-scale entertaining in mind. These beauties are eye-catching and stackable, which means they are perfect as extra seating for parties. When not in use they can be easily stacked in a closet or storage area.


Chairs for Entertaining

With simple table decor and desserts all set out, it seems a party is in progress. This great mix of modern chairs is tied together by sunny yellows hues.

Images 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

What do you think of these chic chairs? Leave us your thoughts below and stop by our blog for delightful home decor, mini pendant lighting and interior inspirations!

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