Got a Christmas Tree “Hole” in the House?

Got a Christmas Tree “Hole” in the House?

Phew- you made it through the holidays relatively unscathed- congratulations! And if you’re like me, you performed the thankless job of taking down and putting the holiday decorations away last week.

Suddenly the house looks a bit more naked, especially that little spot or nook where the tree used to be? Time for a micro makeover!

Believe it or not, one of the little annoyances in space planning and redecorating rooms is there is usually one little skinny, tall area in the room where not much fits comfortably in the space. If an object is too wide in a little area, it usually looks like like a stuffed sausage and looks out of proportion.

So you start doing strange searches on the net for things like “tall skinny furniture,” which I can tell you firsthand is a relatively futile Google search.

What can you do to “mind the gap for a micro makeover?”

Micro Makeover Options

Lighting

The first thing people think of when they need something long, skinny and tall is some sort of lighting apparatus. Ah yes, the ubiquitous 90’s torcheire- didn’t we all have one of these in our first apartments?


The problem was, they got REALLY hot (even sometimes catching fire), and most importantly, do you want to replay 1992 in your grown-up house?

Functionally, uplights, or torcheires do add some general, or ambient light to a room, but they work better by casting a soft, gentle glow and resulting shadows to an area, or used as accent lighting.

Here’s a room where we added one just for a bit of accent lighting: (this one looks better at night but it’s the only pic I had)

Today’s torcheires are less bright, (those old ones could light up a crime scene!) and more beautiful, albeit a little more pricey than that Wal-Mart special back in the 90’s. Yes, it’s time to grow up!

contemporary torcheire with glass shade

Two glass shades cast a warm glow.

If Arts and Crafts is more your thing, the stained glass here casts interesting patterns in a room

contemporary accent and task lighting fixture

A hybrid using accent light and task lighting (only try this look if your style is ultra contemporary!

Hww about a pillar of light? Retro, fun in a corner. Groovy, baby!

Objects D’Art

I have to admit, I’m in dangerous territory here. One of my favorite sculpture is Giacometti’s “Walking Man” and it would be the perfect thing to place in the “Chrismas Tree Zone.”

Giacometti Walking Man But, at $104 million at last auction, maybe a tad out of budget.

I like to look over at the Phiilips Collection for interesting tall, skinny objects d’arte. I think this might be a tad more affordable:

 

But admittedly, I’m on dangerous ground, because accessories are very personal. I like these too, you may not- that’s OK!

teak sculpture

Twisted teak piece sculpture for an organic element

 

Leaf standing sculpture

Leaf me alone!

Incidentally, all of these sculptures stand over 5 feet tall!

Screens

If it’s a corner, usually a multi-paneled hinged screen will be the ticket. This screen is neat for the mottled mirrored effect, and we’ve used it a few times over the yearsmirrored screen for corner makeover

There’s a host of interesting screens out there, but remember, it shouldn’t have a lot of visual weight unless you want the “Christmas Tree Zone” to be your focal point year round. Subtle, with perhaps a touch of bling, if you’re so inclined.

From Arteriors Home

Perfect for a drafty corner! By Bernhardt

Masculine and mid-century from Brownstone

Reading Nook

For some reason, my new puppy that I got for Christmas, Max feels safest in the corners of our house. (admittedly, I took this detour just to show him off!)

But why not create a little corner to be a little haven for yourself? The key here is proportion and scale to the room. But I know it should be comfy as well, so here’s a few from our suppliers that have served to fill the skinny, narrow corners.

Makeover chair by Fairfield

This updated wing chair by Fairfield Chair is tall ‘n skinny at W28 X H43

A lovely watercolor print on this sexy chair by Ambella Home. 29w X 46H

The Gossamer Wing Chair is even taller at 31W X 48’Hl!

The Haddam Chair by Kravet is 28W X 49H”

and here’s a room in Logan Square where we used a pair of Haddam chairs for height and drama

Logan Square Makeover using Kravet Haddam chairs in custom stripe fabric

Just a little food for thought if you’re holed up with the winter cold, like us here in Chicago.

Coming next week: the Internet and furniture shopping: pros and cons. Stay tuned!

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Why Do Kids Get All the Fun? An Ikea Designer Shopping List for Adults

Why Do Kids Get All the Fun? An Ikea Designer Shopping List for Adults

That dreaded unnamed season about 5/8ths of the way into summer that you don’t want to even think about: Ikea Season. You’ve got to make the inevitable pilgrimage for the kids going off to college, and for the clever teens who have presented well-reasoned arguments for room upgrades under the guise of increased productivity.There’s nothing “designer” there, right?

But while the kids are off picking selecting lamps, mirrors, and all sorts of plastic, we think these items are stylish, super reasonable and worthy of a grown-up abode. Just don’t tell anyone where you got them!

 

Orchids and Bamboo

designer orchids

I’m always shocked at how nice and inexpensive they are, especially the colorful orchids! Why buy the plastic ones? That’s a designer no-no!

 

Velvet Curtain Panels

designer velvet curtains

Great for a guest room, these are a steal- their thickness belies their affordability.  Hem them yourself. Spring for a Bedazzler if you’re an overachiever.

Terracotta Wine Chillers

designer wine cooler

For your “deck wine”

Simple White Plates

designer plates Ikea

I just bought these and have never been happier. Perhaps the best bargain of them all. Simple bliss

Pillow Covers & Down Inserts

 

designer pillow covers

There’s a time I want a gorgeous custom designer pillow. Other times I like to switch them out for the season. Guiltless.

Oversized Paper Napkins

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a party without these babies. The size makes them seem oddly luxurious.

Minimalist Picture Frames

designer picture frames.

A designer gallery wall to remind you of your newly off-to-college kids? Done.

Happy Hunting!

Dean Malambri

President, Dean Alan Design

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Insider Secrets- Memorial Day Furniture Sales (from a Recovering Furniture Sale Addict)

Insider Secrets- Memorial Day Furniture Sales (from a Recovering Furniture Sale Addict)

My 48th year on planet Earth hit me mildly hard this week. Not with a “quick- call the plastic surgeon” sense of urgency, but as a gentle voice tugging at my sleeve, “take better care of yourself.”  So it’s now a glass of green juice at 5 AM and off to the gym I go!

On the elliptical, I always turn on something brainless, like the local news. And on every commercial break this week, there’s someone shouting about their Memorial Day Furniture Sale. It’s a familiar refrain in America, the excitement of a sale. I’m not immune!

As an interior designer, I do a lot of ton of specifying and shopping for furniture in the normal course of projects. And truth be told, many years ago I got my design start as a “designer” in a furniture store picking out people’s furniture. So with my experience comes my advice on making sense out of  the frenzies that are holiday sales.

Here’s a little key to decoding all those too-good-to be true sales, from lowest discount to most substantial.

Special Order Furniture:

You see something, you like it and want it. Hold on, they need to special order it- it’s not stocked. All furniture stores (and designers)  order this class of furniture the same way: one piece at a time. It’s a bit more specific to what you want, so the store has to arrange for the manufacturer at least to simply send it to a warehouse, and if it’s a customized piece, they’ll have to specify how to make it. It’s the least discounted type of furniture, because it takes the longest amount of time to order. If you need a financing deal though, buying special order furniture makes sense because there’s often an accompanying offer. If you don’t need that, there’s usually no rush. Most all furniture is discounted from retail every day of the week, so don’t succumb to the screams of “this week only!”

In Stock Furniture and “Special Buys”:

What you see is what you get here, no modifying. Usually it’s a generic piece or pieces (bedroom or dining set), and in all likelihood, the pieces are built overseas. These pieces are usually non-polarizing and appeal to the broadest section of people possible. Back in the early 2000’s it was this classic beige microfiber puffy couch

Puffy microfiber sofa The overseas factories can churn out these puppies out by the thousands, and usually the manufacturing cost doesn’t dictate the retail price as much, oddly, as the shipping cost. The proverbial “slow boat from China. (for an interesting look at how inexpensive stuff can look really luxurious, read my friend Laurel’s awesome post “The Shocking Truth About Restoration Hardware”)  If a store can buy a whole ship container of anything, (and as is the trend nowadays, a grey linen-looking Chesterfield like this):

grey chesterfield on sale

this thing’s like $399 this week.

, they get a huge price break and can pass the savings on. That’s usually the type of merchandise that they shout about on the commercial breaks in the morning. If you’re just starting out, or you have a whole empty house and just need stuff fast, some people go this way (hey no judgments here). The landfills will curse you, but really, no judgement…

 Floor Samples:

furniture store clearance sales

The best deals you can get at a furniture store are hands down on floor samples; the holy grail of deals. And the longer it sits there, the cheaper it gets. They’re one of a kind finds, and I have a bunch in my own house.

Luxury designer chair bargain, chartreuse fabric

Awesome deal here because this chartreuse fabric is not everyone’s cup of tea.

You can’t change anything, it comes as is, and it might be there because:

  1. the store wants to rotate its floor pieces
  2. someone at the store ordered it incorrectly for someone else in the first place, or,
  3. no one wanted it in the first place

Hunting floor samples takes cunning and patience. You can save tremendous amounts here and there, but it’s virtually impossible to get a beautiful coordinated room from entirely floor samples. I’ve tried. There’s just too many variables. Trust me on this or you’ll end up with a half-finished space for years. But here and there, yeah, they’re great, and you can be that slightly annoying person at parties who brags to everyone how much money you’ve saved. I’ve been that guy but am now in remission.

A word of warning about floor samples: We have a storage area filled with them in hopes that someday, one of our clients will be a perfect match for something we got a great deal on.  But I have to reign in my “hunter-gatherer” instinct and realize the thrill of the hunt is more thrilling then the actual prize.

Which is why I have:

a “Tibetan Swamp Log” for 7 years

An orange carved mirror

designer mirror with sconces

An electrified mirror with sconces

and dozens of other pieces admittedly, I didn’t need, but I got whipped up in the sale frenzy. At this point, they might be part of my permanent collection!

The best advice I can give you on these sales is to have a firm plan in mind before you walk in. Don’t buy just to buy. That’s very 1996. Realize the long term goal is a beautiful home, not the bargain here and there. And it’s Memorial Day weekend- go to a barbecue instead!

Dean Malambri signature

 

 

Dean Malambri, President of Dean Alan Design

 

 

 

 

Dean Malambri is President and Principal Interior Designer for Dean Alan Design Inc, a residential interior design firm primarily serving Chicago and the Chicago suburbs.

 

 

 

 

 

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