Living with plants not only has health benefits and purify the air inside a home, they also add vitality and life to a dull interior. And it doesn’t stop there—they also soak up extra moisture in your home, eliminating damp and mold. They reduce the chances of dry skin, colds, sore throats, dry coughs and in general aid recovery from illnesses. Certain plants even help you sleep better (the Gerbera daisy), lower blood pressure and boost moods.
Being around plants even help your concentration, memory and productivity—so don’t limit having potted plants only at home. Buy some for the office and your work life will be better for it. Today we take a look at simple ways for you to start having more greens in your life.
If you have the space, then why not designate a whole area to an indoor garden? Using stones as a base, and having plants in pots means less maintenance. An important thing to include in your indoor garden is plenty of light—try to have plants growing under a skylight, or next to large sunny windows. And of course, think about access for watering!
Potted plants are probably the easiest way to grow plants at home. They are easily transportable, colorful and able to be moved into sunnier spots if the plants are struggling to survive. Alternatively, freshly cut stems in vases are also a great way to add color and life to any room. Don’t be afraid to go big with pots and vases if resting them on the floor or standing them in corners.
Having herbs close at hand in the kitchen is great for any cooking enthusiast, and having a vertical garden like this is the perfect addition to any modern kitchen. But don’t limit your garden to only edible plants—there are many other plants to grow for medicinal purposes.
Aloe Vera for example works wonders on burns, while Comfrey and Arnica can help with bruises and sprains. Calendula heals wounds and soothes skin, and Chamomile soothes an upset stomach. All great to have growing in the home (or on the balcony or terrace if your kitchen doesn’t have the space).
Gardening isn’t always messy work. By keeping plants in designated containers, you can still have a tidy and clean house. Just make sure the pots, boxes or bowls you use have adequate drainage so you can water the plants without worrying about overflow or any mess to clean up afterwards.
A big metal bowl like this one is great for creating your own miniature garden in, or for holding succulents, or for growing herbs in for easy cutting. You don’t necessarily have to have huge palm trees or bushes of flowers growing to benefit from plants. Even something as small as this will help cleanse your air and enhance your mood.
Cacti are great for those who can’t commit much time to caring for plants. They require little water, light and maintenance in general, so if you have a busy schedule, these are the plants for you. And despite their tough appearance, most cacti have incredible, brightly colored flowers that bloom frequently from their tips or from the top—an easy way to brighten your home!
Lately we have seen the rise in popularity of unusual gardening techniques. Hanging gardens, Kokedamas, air plants and terrariums are becoming commonplace in a lot of homes where space, and light is limited.
These Kokedamas (which roughly translates to moss ball) are a favorite of professional gardeners, and are a great way to grow plants without needing pots. They are pretty easy to maintain, don’t need a lot of sunlight, but still require regular watering (about once or twice a week). Something new for the experimental gardener to try.
With their brightly colored flowers, orchids are a classic plant for interiors. They also require little care: watering needs to only be done at the most, once a week, or every 10 days. Palms are also relatively easy to grow at home.
Most house plants require fertilizing every now and again, and will need re-potting every few years (depending on the plant). Look out for leaves that are turning brown, roots that could be compacted, or water that sits in the leaves.
For more tips on how to create an impressive garden at home, check these out.
While planning a kitchen, it is essential to ensure that the kitchen counter is practical alongside being visually appealing such that it fits the needs of the household perfectly. Various counter styles, materials & colors are employed by the kitchen planners to fulfill the practical utility of the kitchen design.
Today homify brings to you a list of 10 great kitchen counter designs that, though entirely different from one another, share one aspect—all of them are loaded with functional elegance and provide that perfect space to prepare your food, grab a quick bite or simply sit & enjoy a warm cuppa with your loved one.
Have a look at these inspiring ideas that will surely make you say I WANT THIS!
Installing a double level kitchen counter is a smart way to neatly demarcate functional spaces. As depicted here, this double level counter has the dark granite surface on the top to serve as work space for preparing food, etc. and the lower wooden top level to serve as a convenient breakfast table. This allows for seamless functioning in the kitchen space.
Who said modern is only about shine & glitter? Kitchen counters are extremely flexible spaces that can be unique & dazzle in uncomplicated charm as well, as long as it brings an aesthetic air into the kitchen.
This beautiful rustic style kitchen is replete with modern essence in its homely feel. The brick & wood detailing of the counter is refreshing with its close to nature vibes and complements the contemporary accents brilliantly.
When in a house with small spaces, it is up to the smart design to make the most of it while defining functional spaces. As in the image, two entirely independent spaces can coexist in absolute harmony without mixing. The elegant kitchen counter packs a stylish punch, doubling up as the kitchen table as well. The adjacent jazzy dining space can be very conveniently incorporated within the kitchen to make it a big space for social dining when you have family gatherings.
In this narrow kitchen low on dimensions, style and utility exist in copious amounts. Apart from the glossy granite top below the white kitchen cabinets, there is a pop up wooden kitchen table with round stools and high wooden counter/ table with squarish high stools lit up with industrial lights. These wooden features provide additional space for placing items & decor, and also for a cozy meal or beverage. Compact yet visually sound, these elements make the kitchen look far from cluttered.
The graceful kitchen island boasts of a unique personality in this eclectic style kitchen. The raw appeal of the chic wooden counter works well with the black floor planks and adds a striking contrast to the modular flavors of the white kitchen elements. The bouquet lighting shines brightly on the wooden accents to make its versatility dazzle—counter, kitchen table and storage solution, all rolled into one. Impressive indeed!
This vibrant & radiant modern kitchen defies its size in functional exquisiteness. A true example of a clever idea to overcome space crunch, this wide wooden board attached to the body of the burner counter doubles up as the kitchen table & the dining table for the integrated dining area. Based on convenience it could be used either way, or simply as an extension of the kitchen counter itself when required.
Black is beautiful, and this mosaic tiled counter proves it magnificently. Complementing the luxurious accents of the house, the kitchen boasts of dazzling lavishness with the wonder of white, metallic luster, subtle woody warmth and clear radiance adding to the sinful black details.
Employing wood for kitchen elements is a smart way of adding heartiness to the space alongside being a really creative way to add softness & textures. This is because wood is quite flexible and can be worked easily to have a delicate natural finish. A wooden kitchen counter lit by the golden glow of pleasant lighting is a true visual treat with its beautiful features highlighted in all their glory, just like the counter-kitchen table shown here.
Imagination is key to novelty and this industrial kitchen is a lively endorsement for that. Creative designs are a reflection of the designer’s thought & character that he/she puts on paper and executes. This adjustable convivial kitchen counter imparts a cheery air of playfulness to the kitchen, oozing with practicality as a counter as well as a kitchen table. Fantastic space optimization bathed in creativity, isn’t it?
The uncomplicated charm of this minimalist kitchen wins your heart with its functionality. The simple sober wooden counter top in this white kitchen bears a tranquil essence of subtle style. The counter functions as a narrow table as well, where you can relish a hot cup of tea and cupcakes while enjoying a chit chat.
Are you scrambling eggs, making chocolate chip cookies, and measuring pasta the right way? It might not seem obvious, but there are plenty of basic things you could be doing the “wrong” way in the kitchen. These 20 hacks will make you a serious cooking pro if you’re not already. Keep reading to learn every cooking shortcut and tip that will save you time, stress, and sanity in the kitchen.
You can say goodbye to moldy lemons in your fridge thanks to this ingenious hack for keeping them fresh for up to three months. All you need is a bowl of water.
The best roasted potatoes are boiled in salted water and roasted in the oven for a perfectly soft interior and supercrunchy exterior. The other secret ingredient — whole-grain mustard — takes their flavor to the next level.
Cutting a Lime
Cutting a lime in half barely gives you any juice . . . and that’s because that’s not the proper way to cut it.
Protein, including eggs, hates heat. If you’ve always ended up with overcooked and rubbery scrambled eggs, you’re probably cooking them too quickly at too high a heat. Low and slow is the only way to go for soft, custardy scrambled eggs.
Making Peanut Butter Cookies
You only need four ingredients (peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla) for perfect peanut butter cookies.
Almost every time you make pasta, you should save about half a cup of the pasta water before pouring the rest down the drain. The salty, starchy liquid that the pasta cooked in becomes a crucial part to achieving a silky, cohesive sauce in most pasta dishes like carbonara, cacio e pepe, and garlic white wine pasta.
Wasting Spoiled Wine
Don’t toss your spoiled bottle of wine! You can easily save it by swirling a (clean) penny around in a glass of the wine.
Making Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you’re not adding salt to the top of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, you’re doing it wrong. A sprinkling of good-quality flake salt completely transforms the flavor of chocolate chip cookies and immediately elevates them.
Making Fettuccine Alfredo
One-pot fettuccine alfredo might actually change your life. There’s no need to make the cheese sauce in a separate pan when the pasta can be cooked in the liquid for maximum flavor and easy cleanup.
Filling Your Muffin Tin
A spring-loaded ice cream scoop will be your key to evenly portioned cookies and cupcakes.
Making Mashed Potatoes
Since you’re already adding heavy cream and butter to your mashed potatoes, you should actually be cooking the potatoes in the cream and butter. Chef Tyler Florence’s mashed potatoes will convince you there’s no other way to make them.
Sizzling bacon on the stovetop only results in greasy splatters and painful burns. You should roast bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil so that the bacon cooks evenly and the cleanup is effortless.
Forgoing Lemon Zest When You Don’t Have a Microplane
Don’t have a Microplane? Get citrus zest anyway by peeling the skin and chopping it up.
You’ll never buy ground beef again once you learn how to make burgers from sirloin tips rather than ground chuck. The flavor and texture are far superior to store-bought ground beef.
Peeling and mincing garlic is one of the most tedious kitchen tasks, and knocking it out with your Microplane is so much easier and more efficient.
All you need for the best-ever oven-baked chicken is salt — seriously.
Perfectly measuring spaghetti can be stressful — it’s easy to end up with too much or too little. Turns out the secret to a perfect portion of spaghetti lies in the kitchen tool you’re already using to make it.
Making PB&J Sandwiches
Who says eating peanut butter and jelly for lunch as an adult is unacceptable? You can elevate the classic sandwich by using a combination of creamy and crunchy peanut butter, Nutella, strawberries, bananas, marshmallow fluff, jelly, and honey.
Eating quesadillas is messy. Make them dip-friendly and a lot more fun to eat by making quesadilla roll-ups instead of flat quesadillas.
Tossing Eggs After They Go Bad
If you’re not going to finish all your eggs before they go bad, freeze them! Fresh eggs will last about five weeks in the fridge but up to six months in the freezer. The simplest way to freeze eggs is by dividing them in a muffin tin. Freeze until they are solid, transfer to a resealable freezer-safe plastic bag, and store until you’re ready to use.
Privacy is a concern for most people living in urban centers. Whether you are unfortunate enough to live next door to the neighbors from hell or if your neighbors are the types to bring you home baked treats regularly, we all value our privacy. Nothing beats the feeling of being truly comfortable at home, and to get that feeling, we often have to erect fences, or grow wild hedges to shut out the outside world.
We have found 14 excellent ideas that you can use to make sure your private backyard stays exactly that—private. From traditional stone walls, to wooden fences, to unconventional metal barriers, the choices are unlimited.
Take a look, be inspired, put one up and you will never have to worry about your neighbors again… unless they use a leaf blower on a Sunday!
1. Natural hedges are a beautiful boundary between properties, but will require constant maintenance.
If you’re of the opinion that smart home products are just a fad, think again, because they’re here to stay.
We’re moving towards a world where our fridges will be able to order products online for us before we even realize we’re running low, and we already have virtual personal assistants.
It may feel like the beginning of a sci-fi thriller where robots take over the world, but it’s also pretty neat to think that most of our boring, day-to-day tasks could be automated, or at least made slightly less painful.
To help you make sense of what is worth buying, and what devices will get you the most bang for your buck, we put together a list of some of the best ones on the market right now. Better yet, they’re all under £50.
Amazon Echo Dot
As far as smart-home devices go, the Echo Dot is by far the best value out there. This nifty little gadget works the same as its older brother, the Amazon Echo. The only difference between the two is that you’ll need to have a home-sound system (a simple wireless speaker should suffice) to take full use of the Echo Dot.
Not only will you be able to ask Alexa what the weather is like, but the virtual assistant is also capable of controlling your lights, heating your home, and even ordering you an Uber or takeout. You can read our full review of it here.
At first glance, the TP-Link smart plug isn’t all that impressive. It looks like a glorified plug, so some may not realize its potential.
The smart plug can remotely switch off any device plugged into it from anywhere at anytime, thanks to TP-Link’s mobile app, or Alexa, if you own an Echo device. It also has an “away mode,” which means that you can switch some appliances on or off to give the impression you’re home at different times.
Not only can it save energy, but this nifty little gadget will also monitor energy usage of any device plugged into it. The price may seem a bit steep for one plug, but it should pay for itself after just a couple of months if you use it frequently.
Not only can you vocally control your Hue lights with the Amazon Echo Dot, from anywhere in the house as well as through the mobile app (which comes in handy if you’re forgetful), but these lights can also be used as a wake-up alarm. Simply program them to mimic a sunrise every morning, and you’ll soon be able to ditch your phone’s blaring alarm.
Although not indispensable, this motion sensor makes for a nice complement to the Philips Hue bulbs. Gone are the times where you fumble around in the dark in search for a light switch; the lights will turn on automatically. If you have a big house, you can connect up to 10 through Hue Bridge so you’ll never need to touch a switch when going to get a glass of water ever again.
This is the smart-home device anyone should invest in to avoid long-term damage to their houses in the event of a leak. Simply place the sensor on the wall, and place the probe on the floor behind a washing machine, sink, or anything at risk of causing a flood in your home.
Although practical, it doesn’t work with Alexa, so you’ll have to invest in the Panasonic Smart Home Hub, if you don’t already own one.
Your walls and ceiling dominate the room, and since you end up spending most of your time in your room, it needs some updates from time to time. While we pay more attention to the furniture, bedding and other details, how many of us actually pay attention to the walls of our room? The walls of any space are often under used and overlooked as the defining ingredient in the room. Take this tour to find out how you can use your walls to make your room shine.
You can use two colors in your space with one accent wall that gives it a contrasting look. This will give your space a colorful lift. Take a cue from this bedroom designed by the architects at Estudio Sespede Arquitectos.
You can use self-hued patterns and textures to create a luxurious look with an understated vibe. Use a contrast coloured lighting on the sides like these black lamps to highlight the textures along with the mirrors to make an impact.
Use bright and vibrant hues on an accent wall with a decal in the colour of the rest of the walls to attain a cohesive and fun look. This way you can flip the colours and create a specific theme in your room as well.
The interior designer Simone Suss doesn’t do things by halves.
When she and her husband Rob, a financier, bought a dilapidated 1930s house in north London eight years ago, they decided to demolish it and rebuild a modern, four-storey property in its place. Planning approval was quickly secured, but the work was delayed and took three long years.
It was worth the wait. The finished house has a sleek, white-walled interior bursting with pops of colour. The wooden flooring was inspired by the Saatchi Gallery and there is some impressive contemporary art on show, but the creations of Izzy, 10, Charlie, eight, and Oliver, six, take pride of place.
Above all, this is a family home, with a basement playroom and cinema that is perfect for weekend lounging.
Demolishing the house was a brave decision…
‘The house that originally stood here was literally the ugliest in the neighbourhood! Fortunately, the local conservation committee agreed with us, so we were given approval to knock it down and start again. What really attracted me was the plot itself, which is great. The garden is west facing, so offers beautiful light. What drew me in was that it offered space for a basement filled with natural light, so we rebuilt the house from scratch to realise my vision.’
How would you describe your decorating style?
‘I don’t believe in sticking to rules. Some people say you can’t mix genres, but I do, frequently combining modern and historical elements in an interesting way. I like to incorporate playful elements – whether it’s art or a piece of furniture – and unusual textiles.’
You’ve used strong pops of colour throughout the house. What do you think they bring?
‘Colour can affect how people feel and add interest to a space. For example, a bedroom in cool blues and greys is very calming. I especially love dark blue and have incorporated it into many interiors, including our movie room. Inky colours have become a new neutral, but you can use them in unexpected ways. We often do whole rooms in dark blue – ceilings, woodwork, everything.’
Do you have a favourite room in the house?
‘I never get bored of our marble bathroom. I went to hundreds of marble yards while I was heavily pregnant with Oliver, looking for the perfect pieces. It became a bit of an obsession. I also love our kitchen, with its colourful Livia Marin mural. It really is the heart of our home and where we spend most of our time.’
How do visitors react to the interior?
‘I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s taste, but I’ve had plenty of positive feedback – design is incredibly personal and I believe a home should reflect the people who live there. Above all, it’s a home for my family and I made sure to factor in plenty of space to enjoy together.’
Your tips for using art in a home?
‘Again, art is very personal, so go with your gut. If you fall in love with something, or a piece has sentimental value, then why not make it a central part of your home? Put it somewhere prominent so that you can enjoy it every day. We often design entire schemes around a client’s favourite piece of art.’
What is your favourite design piece?
‘Goodness, there are so many. The pink table by Yves Klein in the living room is something I never tire of looking at. I love a good Chesterfield couch – updated in a fresh fabric – and I keep returning to Anglepoise lights. They’re a modern classic.’
How was decorating your own home different to working with clients?
‘I found it much more difficult – and emotional. I’m aware of all of the different finishes and alternatives, and I’m always searching for perfection. Rob and I had a few heated debates. Fortunately, there’s always a point where my family make me step back and appreciate things.’
The go-to designers for Daniel Boulud, Oscar de la Renta, and more share their advice
What do couturier Oscar de la Renta, chef Andrew Carmellini, and hotel giant the Four Seasons have in common? All have commissioned New York–based design firm Meyer Davis to conceive bespoke interiors for their boutiques, restaurants, and properties. Since joining forces in 1999, Will Meyer and Gray Davis have made a name for themselves by creating inviting interiors that feel at once structured and relaxed, making use of an array of materials while maintaining a clean, modern feel. In the Copake, New York, lake house the firm created for Davis and his family, for example, raw wood walls and jute-wrapped pipes are offset by streamlined modern furniture. At the Bowery Meat Company in Manhattan, Meyer and Davis temper the industrial look that’s all too ubiquitous in the city’s eateries with plush velvet banquettes and rich walnut-paneled walls. These projects and more are on full display in the firm’s new book, Made to Measure (The Vendome Press, $60), which neatly summarizes the warm, tailored, and always personal interiors that have earned their firm its devoted following. On the occasion of its launch, AD caught up with Meyer and Davis to hear more about their process, aesthetic, and inspiration.
Architectural Digest: You use so many natural elements, yet your spaces always look polished. How do you achieve that balance?
Will Meyer: Gray and I always like to celebrate the beauty and natural characteristics of the materials that we use. We have found that having a clean, more structured counterpoint to those materials allows one to appreciate and honor the qualities of the natural material more.
AD: How do your aesthetic goals change when decorating private and public spaces?
Gray Davis: Our aesthetic goals don’t differ between public and private spaces; that’s what we like about our work. By not drawing a distinction between the two, we are able to focus on creating meaningful spaces that can to be enjoyed whether as a home or hotel.
AD: What are your favorite materials to work with?
WM: We really look for more of an assembly of materials that correlate and build off one another instead of selecting them individually. There are a few materials, such as wood, that we often gravitate to for our projects; however, in the end it’s really about creating a beautiful, clean palette where the materials speak to one another.
AD: How do you tie your design into the vernacular of a particular area?
GD: We tend to begin every project with a narrative that’s based off a core idea. Our work carries allusions that weave unique qualities of the space and take measure of subtle references and details in order to tell a story within the space.
AD: How would you each describe Meyer Davis’s aesthetic in three words?
If there’s one thing we enjoy more than decorating, it’s cooking. Leisurely sipping a glass of wine while concocting a culinary feast (or quick weeknight meal) for our friends or family is truly one of life’s simple pleasures, wouldn’t you agree? That’s why we have so much love for the space where this magic happens: the kitchen. As the hero of the home, it deserves special attention. If yours is looking a little dated right now but you don’t have the finances to renovate, don’t stress. There are some low-cost kitchen home improvements you can make that don’t require a ton of cash. (For those who do, these home improvements are worth the money.)
We called on two of our favorite interior experts to share their budget-friendly kitchen upgrades (rentals included) that don’t involve a renovation. Ahead, Portland-based interior designer Max Humphrey and co-founders of Thea Home Inc. Thea Segal and Dorianne Passman share their kitchen home improvement tips to make yours look like a million bucks on a dime. Your credit card will approve.
PAINT OVER IT
PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt for Thea Home Inc.
Paint is a transformative technique that can be applied to every room in the house, from the outside in. The big dilemma is choosing the hue. Prepare for multiple sample pot swatches on the wall as you test them out through the decision-making process. For Humphrey, it’s all about the darker tones for kitchens. He’s noticed a growing trend toward navy and charcoal gray cabinets, but he’ll never tire of an all-white kitchen.
His go-to whites are Dunn Edwards Whisper and Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. “People get crazy about which white paint to use,” he told MyDomaine. “They’re all a little different, so it’s always good to test a swatch out before you pull the trigger on the whole room. I try and avoid white paint that looks yellow. Right now I’m having a client’s kitchen cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, which is a nice alternative to all white. Olive green is pretty hip too.” If you do decide you have the “guts to go green,” Humphrey highly recommends the Sherwin Williams Olive Grove.
PHOTO: Nicole Franzen
Kitchens are the hero of the home, and having them look fresh and clean is an important design feature—almost more than aesthetics. If you have old, outdated tiles for your backsplash, there’s no amount of bleach that will save them, but there is a cure. According to Segal and Passman, putting a simple and classic white subway tile on top of the existing tile is a great low-cost alternative. “This way you save on demolition costs and subway tiles are extremely affordable,” they said. “This will clean it up and make it fresh.”
But if retiling is still out of your budget, Humphrey has a frugal suggestion to tide you over. “Oak is the on-trend wood finish right now, and a good way to draw the eye away from a lackluster counter is with a big ol’ cutting board,” he said. “This bad boy chopping block from Crate and Barrel will make you forget all your ugly tile woes.”
FIX THE LIGHTING
PHOTO: Lisa Sherry Interiors
There’s nothing worse than a dimly lit kitchen. We’re all for ambiance and setting the mood, but while you’re cooking you need to see what you’re doing. Clever placement can also hide design features you’d rather keep in the dark. But don’t match your lighting to the era of your home. Instead, choose lighting based on its architectural features.
“In my old apartment (a 1920s building), I swapped out the existing ceiling flush mounts with schoolhouse inspired fixtures,” he said. “When it was time to move out, I just put the old ones back in and took the new ones with me to my next place.”
Segal and Passman said there’s one place in the kitchen that takes precedence above all else when it comes to lighting. “Dropping some pendants above an island can help bring great light to the kitchen,” they said. “This is also a very practical choice since most of the prep and cleanup is done at the kitchen island.” For low-cost but luxe lighting, both designers recommend Schoolhouse Electric and Rejuvenation, but you can find great deals for vintage lighting on Etsy, eBay, and in your local thrift stores.
PHOTO: Amy Bartlam for Kate Lester Interiors
If there’s one thing that instantly updates a kitchen (without costing you), it’s art. It brightens up a blank wall, injects instant personality to a small space, and ramps up the style factor. The kitchen isn’t the first place most people think of to hang artwork, but it’s this unexpected element of surprise that makes it so perfect.
Humphrey is a big fan of colorful posters in a kitchen. “It’s the one room where you can use something fun and not overly serious,” he said. “I like sourcing vintage ones, but there are a million great sources out there for cheeky art. Society6.com is a go-to for me, and Minted.com has great stuff too.”
For Segal and Passman, it’s all about the flea market finds. “You’re guaranteed to find some beautiful forgotten art at a flea market or antique store,” they told us. “Old painted portraits can be beautiful and really warm up a space.” The best part is the low price, and you can always barter that down too—these insider tips will help you score.
DITCH OLD BLINDS
PHOTO: Nicole Franzen
If your kitchen is shielded from natural light thanks to old blinds, Segal and Passman have a quick fix. “Take them off,” the duo said. “You don’t need blinds on every window. A kitchen is the best space to have natural light anyway.” But if your heart truly is set on them, woven bamboo blinds are Humphrey’s first choice when he’s on a tight budget.
“You can find them at any price point and almost any size, and they work [everywhere from] modern kitchens to traditional ones,” he said. But he does agree with the girls on removing them altogether. If you don’t need the privacy, he prefers au naturel. “I’d take no blinds and a fresh coat of paint on the window casing over bad blinds any day,” he said.
PHOTO: Amy Bartlam for Kirsten Marie Interiors
When it comes to affordable upgrades, it doesn’t get more low cost than hardware. It’s such a simple update, and it won’t break the bank either. “I always err on the side of modern to make the kitchens I design look current,” advises Humphrey. “MyKnobs.com has an endless amount of options. I like shiny square bar pulls. Life is too short for matte finishes.”
The team at Thea Home Inc. loves antique hardware as a “great way to spruce up and give character to your space.” They add: “We prefer not to use a mishmash of hardware. Find a complete collection of matching knobs and pulls so that it looks sophisticated but has character. We love Liz’s Antique Hardwareor tried-and-true eBay.”
ADD OPEN SHELVES
PHOTO: Nicole Franzen
A common complaint of most kitchens is the lack of storage, but a simple and affordable way to fix that is by adding open shelves. While open shelving isn’t for everyone (it does require some strict editing), when done well, it can really become a striking design feature. Humphrey suggests sticking to a palette of one to two colors, preferably neutral. “Being able to display your cookbooks and a few decorative objects is a way to bring in pops of color, and they can be conversation starters too,” he said. “IKEA has great lacquered shelving, and West Elm has a few reclaimed wood options that are a good price and look great.”
The Thea Home team is a big fan of the open-shelf look. “We are true believers in making a kitchen feel open, inviting, and airy without using upper cabinets, so open shelving is the next best thing for storage,” they said. “Plus it’s a great way to display all of your beautiful finds, accessorize your kitchen, and give it some character.”
LAY DOWN A RUG
PHOTO: Alyssa Rosenheck for Sean Anderson Design
This final upgrade is more about aesthetics than anything else, but nothing quite compares to the transformative power a rug has on a room—our CEO Katherine Power can attest to that. They’re the perfect pick-me-up for a fatigued kitchen, and interior designers swear by them. “I always put a runner rug in a kitchen, especially in front of a sink or next to an island,” said Humphrey. “It’s a great way to incorporate color and pattern, but it can also be really functional—not to mention nice to stand on when you’re doing the dishes. Dash and Albert are my go-to since they make a ton of indoor/outdoor options that can withstand the inevitable spills.”
Segal and Passman agree: “We pretty much always put a runner in our kitchens along the island,” they said. “This really makes the kitchen feel like it’s part of the home. It’s also a great way to add a splash of color since most of the kitchens we design are neutral. We love Woven Accents, Marc Phillips, and Lawrence of La Brea for our Turkish rugs.”
Tziallas Omeara Architecture Studio recently added a contemporary extension to heritage-listed Bowral cottage in Bundaroo, Australia. The addition accommodates a large kitchen, a new living and dining room, a place for guests to sleep over, as well as a sunken media room. Invisible from the street side, the newest part of the home feels like an intimate family refuge.
“The client was keen to explore a contemporary approach to the new work, allowing for the new addition to juxtapose with the original weatherboard cottage,” the architects said. Most importantly, the project had to be energy efficient and environmentally-friendly.
The house was designed to capture the sunlight in winter, and to exclude it from heating up the spaces in summer. A geo-thermal heat recovery system heats the pool, floor slab and domestic hot water. Solar panels provide more electricity than the occupants are likely to use (feeding the surplus back into the grid). Last but not least, the charging station in the garage powers an electric vehicle.
Enjoy the photo gallery below and let us know your thoughts on this home extension in Australia! [Information provided by Tziallas Omeara Architecture Studio; Photography by Tom Ferguson]