It is no secret that apart from all the other luxuries, the level of comfort in your home is affected by the air quality. The level of humidity and temperature are just some of the few variables that your health and comfort while indoors hinge on. For instance, when the humidity is too high, you quickly go from a perfect hair day to a ruined one, and when it is too low, you try to pet your furred best friend's head, and you end up zapping them with bouts of static electricity. Fortunately, you don't need a sixth sense to gauge the level of humidity in your home because we have shared tips on how to do so below.
How humidity levels affect your home:
The optimum humidity level as recommended by the EPA is between 40-60%. When it goes lower or higher than the optimum, the effects are often different as highlighted below
What happens when it is too low?
When humidity is too high:
It affects your health negatively: Studies show that most bacteria, allergens, dust mites, mildew, and mold flourish in the presence of excess moisture and when your indoor atmosphere has high humidity, they thrive. When breathed in, these allergens result in health problems. For instance, molds trigger asthma attacks, constant allergies, and many other respiratory problems. Also, high humidity means that your body's cooling system must work two times harder to maintain the internal temperature. This results to dehydration, fatigue, headaches, and excessive sweating which easily triggers other skin conditions such as heat rash.
It causes structural damage to property: Apart from affecting your health, excess humidity also brings you additional repair and maintenance costs as a result of the damage it causes to your home. This occurs in different ways as shown here;
Causes the growth of mold on furniture, walls, ceilings, and even attics thereby lowering the value of the house.
Monitor indoor humidity levels
The first step to countering humidity problems is by getting accurate measurements of its level. You cannot employ other tactics when you don't know if it's higher or lower than relative. In respect to that, strategically install a hygrometer to help you monitor the levels, so you can figure out what your next step should be.
Open windows and use fans when moisture is high
When there is excessive moisture, opening windows and using fans are the cheapest and easiest ways to dehumidify your house. This is because doing so allows cold, dry air to circulate. However, opening a window may not be as effective, as the level of humidity outdoors is often higher or like moisture indoors.
Purchase a dehumidifier and a humidifier:
It's essential to note that the aspect of high or low humidity is something that you'll always have to deal with regardless of your climatic zone. This is because, during winter, the levels of humidity tend to drop and during summer they skyrocket. In respect to that, you have to find ways to cope during these different seasons. Fortunately, humidity levels can be maintained with the help of humidifier and dehumidifier in your home. So, having these two appliances gives you the option of switching one on depending on the level of moisture. For instance, when it is too high, you switch on the dehumidifier which sucks in the moisture, causing the levels to return to optimum and when it is too low, the humidifier does the trick. This combined with the tips listed above will help you keep moisture problems at bay, enabling you to live your best life when indoors.
Get your air ducts checked
Besides a dehumidifier or a humidifier, your HVAC system also helps in regulating humidity levels. However, no matter how expensive your HVAC system is, it is of no use if your air ducts have leaks. For instance, if it generates cool, dry air when humidity is high during summer, then this air escapes through the leak spots on your ducts. The same case applies during seasons of low humidity, thus rendering it ineffective. Therefore, get your ductwork checked to ensure that all leakages are sealed.
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Author: Eric Langstaff
Quite a few of my clients haven't gotten around to putting up their Christmas tree yet.
Here's a few quick tips to get you started.
1. First select your tree.
There are so many options to choose from:
2. Choose a suitable Tree stand.
Whichever stand you choose, ensure that you select the proper tree stand that will give you stability and hold a generous amount of water if necessary.
3. Tree skirts
They add a decorative touch and provide coverage for any planters or non-decorative tree stands. Great backdrop to those pretty parcels!
4. Tree lights
We now have three options to choose from:
If you choose LED white lights - ensure that you select the warm white which is usually 2700 to 3000 Kelvin units . This will ensure you have a warm glow. The cool LED lights often give a very bluish and harsh looking light.
Incandescent lights are the most beautiful lights but they are hard to find now and produce heat which can lead to fire hazards on dry trees.
Mini battery pack lights or Fairy lights are a beautiful option, especially on smaller and more delicate trees, or tree branches. If you go this route ensure that you select the mini or fairy lights that include either a remote option or a timer option, so you are not digging through the tree to find the battery pack.
Depending upon which type of lights you use, I tend to use 100 lights for each foot of Christmas tree.
5. Hanging your Christmas tree lights.
Note this is the most controversial aspect of this post as there are many methods to do this, but I prefer the "branch wrap “approach.
Make your starting point of lights at the bottom of the tree near the trunk. Pull the string of Christmas lights taut to the tip of the branch, then work back toward the trunk, wrapping the cord circularly over itself and the branch, while working your way to the top of the tree. Make sure to select the largest branches to wrap first. Ensure there are more lights at the trunk area of the tree as this provides depth to your design. You will know your tree is "all wrapped up" when you finish at the top lone branch.
Start with the largest ornaments first, placing them near the tree trunk with a few coming through to the branch tips. Then start with the medium sized ornaments, filling in the gaps and lastly the smallest and most delicate ornaments should be placed near the branch tips. This gives dimension to your tree and draws the eyes from the base to the branch outwards to allow others to enjoy your ornaments. Hanging your ornaments only on the outside of your tree can make it looked cluttered and less 3 dimensional. I've got to say I see this all the time and it's difficult to resist the urge to tuck a few ornaments into the background to provide depth.
Plan on at least 10 ornaments per foot of tree.
ie. 6' tree needs 60 ornaments.
Ensure your most precious ornaments are placed where they can be viewed easily. I have a special light bulb which we had only one of. It's now burned out so I've put it in a large plastic ball ornament, hung it on fishline and added a little 'snow' to it. Now I can enjoy that special blue bulb to this day, nice way to protect those keepsake ornaments!
7. Garland. Some people like to use garland. If this is the case, use it sparingly. I find it can overwhelm the tree so I tend to stay away from it.
8. Tinsel. This is optional and time consuming. Each piece needs to be placed singularly by itself. Try avoiding throwing your tinsel on by the handfuls, as I did as a child! It is truly beautiful to look at a tinselled tree, it reflects the lights and ornaments as well!
9. Tree Topper. Your final touch is applying the Christmas star, angel or Christmas spire to the top of the Christmas tree. Make sure the branch is strong enough to support your topper and can be seen above the rest of the tree facing the most viewed angle.
10. Almost done! Now, look at your beautiful tree that you wonderfully decorated, and see if there are any bare patches or empty spaces in the tree. Ask yourself if you may need to add more ornaments or perhaps move a few items. It's your preference on how full you want your tree to look. Some prefer a sparse looking tree while others prefer a full and colorful tree.
With all these considerations you can decide what kind of Christmas design theme you choose for this year. It all starts with your tree. Take your inspiration from the tree and dress up your mantel and a few table tops!
My preference is to put on my favorite Christmas music, have a nice glass of wine, nibble on a few (OK several) chocolates and dance around the house while decorating the tree.
Have a wonderful Christmas. Enjoy your decorating!
Merry Christmas from all of us at Jil Sonia Interior Designs.
Ready for the last post outlining the 15 Essential Steps to Design your Dream Home? Here we go!
First, let’s review, we’ve looked at steps 1-12 so far:
15 Essential Steps to design your dream home Part 1 of 5
1. Selecting your perfect structure
2. Floor plans and elevations
15 Essential Steps to design your dream home Part 2 of 5
5. Mood and Style
6. Overall design
15 Essential Steps to design your dream home Part 3 of 5
7. Bathroom and Kitchen design
8. Furniture Plan
9. Lighting plan
15 Essential Steps to design your dream home Part 4 of 5
10. Window covering
12. Wall colour
Now... we move on to the last 3 steps Part 5/5
Steps 13, 14 and 15 !
Now that you have a complete plan, exterior colours, roofing, windows etc, you can shop! Now it's time for accessories. For rhythm, you need objects that repeat. Instead of one candlestick on your sideboard in your dining room, what about 3 of the same? This way our accessories have more of an impact.
Ask yourself repeatedly through this process -- are my choices consistent with my commitment to the desired ambience? If not go back through a few steps. You cannot compromise here and get the room of your dreams.
Continuously keep the mood of your room in mind. Try to do all your accessorizing and styling within a short period of time in order to keep to one style. Note: 80 percent of the design of a room should be in one focused style and 20 percent can vary. This 20 percent will certainly stand out.
Every room needs some bling unless it's a Farm home pictured below. Fully complete one room, before moving onto the next.
14. Edit your choices:
Keep the concepts of harmony and balance in mind when editing your ideas. I find this stage often takes the most time. Your final choices should please your eye, feel balanced, and create your desired mood. Our eyes need to rest so don't be afraid to have a little bare space, that helps make everything else pop.
Line the items up along a wall to see what you are working with.
What works, what doesn't?
15. Finally - Relax:
Designing a home is not easy. There are important choices to be made and made quickly. Having a game plan and following it does ease the stress.
Now we're all done, kick back, relax and enjoy your beautiful new home!
OK, are we ready? Questions? I'd love to help!
So, let’s review, we’ve looked at steps 1-3 designing your dream home.
1. Selecting your perfect structure.
2. Floor plans and elevations.
And steps 7-9 of designing your dream home:
7. Bathroom and Kitchen design
8. Furniture Plan
9. Lighting plan
Now... we move on to steps 10, 11 and 12!
10. Window coverings:
When designing your dream home, be aware of oddly shaped windows. For some reason architects love to add them in! Notice the angle at the top of the window below.
These windows are very difficult to cover. If you like horizontal blinds these can usually be used for some of the more difficult, or odd shaped windows, however not everyone likes horizontal blinds. Many clients prefer window coverings that can be slid to the sides so that all the glass is showing. Transom windows (especially if they are arched), although beautiful, are especially difficult to cover.
Determine what kind of light coverage do you need. Do you sleep in - then curse the sunlight in the morning; or do you embrace it? You may need room darkening, or light filtering blinds. Do you have a window needing privacy? A window with lots of glare? Many solutions are available.
Discuss your drapery needs with an interior designer or window coverings specialist. Note blinds, drapery and window coverings can be a little pricey, 30% of your room's budget usually goes towards window coverings.
OK, so we are really getting to the styling part here. We know the mood we want to achieve. But where do we go from here? One idea is to start with a ‘signature fabric’, this is a fabric that sets a style or creates your desired mood. Determine the placement of your signature fabric. This can be an expensive fabric - perhaps use it just for the front of a small pillow or the back of a beautiful chair. Confirm your signature fabric suits the ambiance you desire. Use this fabric to set the colour tone of your room.
Now select complementary fabrics. In general, allow no more than three different patterns in one room! Determine placement of all fabrics i.e.:
- patterned drapery fabrics for the windows - like the example above
- perhaps a cream and raspberry stripe for an ottoman,
- black and cream polka dots for the chair backs.
Finally select trim to customize draperies or throw cushions. This trim can be a fringe on pillows, or a band of colour/fabric/ribbon along the side of a drapery panel. Then use your signature fabric to pick colours for the rest of the room.
12. Wall colour:
Now you can finally pick a wall colour! Can you believe we had to wait until step 12 for this? Wall color is not usually picked until near the end of the design, as there are so many distinct colours of paint to choose from. Kimberley Seldon says " picking a wall colour first is like buying a lipstick, then look all over trying to find a dress to match."
Remember to keep the room’s atmosphere in mind. What is your light level? Resist the urge to paint a dark room in a light colour. Donald Kaufman says "Light wall colours never come to life in a dark room..." If the room is sunny, play that up - don't use a dark colour for the walls. Look at your signature fabric for wall color ideas.
I can go on and on about colour but really colour expert Maria Killam says it best when she says "Painting a dark room in pale colours simply accentuates the shadows in a space."
Other questions to ask when selecting a colour 'theme': Are you drawn to warm, neutral or cool colours? Do you prefer many colors or a monochromatic look?
Personally, I throw out the colour theory I was taught in design school. I don't understand how someone can look at a room and say "Do I want a complementary colour scheme? What about the split - complementary colour scheme or maybe an analogous colour scheme?" Only interior design students talk in those terms. I used to be one of them!
Maybe, just maybe, those theories come into play when looking at how to spice up a room with accessories or accents, but in general the main points to remember are:
Finding all this confusing? Contact me to find out how you can have the home of your dreams!
Stay tuned for our last 3 steps!
So, let’s review, we've looked at 15 Essential steps to design your dream home Part 1 of 5.
1. Selecting your perfect structure.
2. Floor plans and elevations.
Then 15 Essential steps to design your dream home Part 2 of 5.
5. Mood and Style
6. Overall design
Now, let’s move on to step #7 shall we?
7. Bathroom and Kitchen:
In our last blog I had mentioned that, when considering the overall design of a new home or renovation, I always start with the kitchen. I find the kitchen counter top to be the most limiting. Yes, there are lots of different materials; quartz, granite, cement, laminates, etc. But the colour palette generally starts with the countertops.
Then we move onto the cabinetry itself – do we want stained or painted? The trend is certainly towards a light coloured, painted finish.
When I specify a painted finish, I usually go with MDF material for the cabinets. I find all kitchen cabinets or wood in general, contracts and expands with the moisture in the air. If you are using wood, the joints will split a little when the wood swells. If the cabinets are stained, that small gap is not noticeable, but if they are painted, it certainly is noticeable. MDF does not contract or expand to the extent that natural wood does, so we don’t have to worry about any tiny cracks.
That being said, if a raw (unpainted) area of MDF is exposed to water for an extended period of time, this will swell and will not go back down. However, all areas of MDF should be painted, leaving no ‘raw’ areas. Just take care to dry off those items before stacking them in the cupboards.
Now we’ve got appliances selected (as stated in my last post), cabinets and countertops selected, let’s select our sinks and faucets. Speak with your cabinet manufacturer and find out which size sinks you can accommodate. Ensure the sinks will be large enough to contain all the splashes from either washing dishes or washing hands. Select faucets that are easy to use and go with the general style of your home.
In the bathroom when selecting your tub – don’t be afraid to visit showrooms and lay in the tub. There are two things I don’t like selecting for clients - tubs and beds – they really are a personal preference. Make sure you’ll be comfy in the tub.
Now, select tile to coordinate with bathroom fixtures, flooring, faucets, etc. Please, please, please don’t select an accent tile. If you really need an accent, perhaps select a textured tile (ie. one with waves), that coordinates with your general tile. Different coloured tiles or patterned tiles date the home so easily. Remember, when in doubt use plain tile. You can always bring in accent pieces of sculpture, or flower vases, etc. to give life to the room, don’t rely on accent tiles to do this job.
8. Furniture plan:
It is essential to create a furniture plan before choosing lighting or finalizing the electrical plan. Go through each room and write down all the activities that will happen in each room. i.e. in our living room we:
Play board games
Ensure you have furniture for each activity and plan for furniture to perform double duty for several functions. We have upholstered ottomans that we prop our feet up on when watching TV, but when we have several guests over, they become seats and they also can be pulled up to the coffee table for board games. Arrange furniture around a focal point, perhaps the fireplace or a window with a view.
9. Lighting plan:
a. Choose your general lighting first. This is the lighting that you initially switch on when entering a room – it casts a soft, even light over the bulk of the room. This can be recessed lighting or perhaps a beautiful chandelier over a dining room table.
b. Task lighting next; such as Island lighting, under cabinet lighting, desk lighting. Think about what tasks you’ll perform and ensure you aren’t struggling to see what you are doing (have you ever tried to finish a jigsaw puzzle with dim lighting?). A tip when you are reading – the bottom of the table lamp shade should be level with your eyes when seated, this is the most comfortable level for most people and helps to reduce eye fatigue.
c. Decorative lighting is last; such as: wall sconces, up lighting, etc.
To me, lighting is one of the most important aspects of design. It can make or break the atmosphere of your room. Be sure to include both up lighting and down lighting (have some light sources shine up, some shine down). Ensure you have enough outlets to plug in your favourite lamp, stereo, computer etc. The electrical budget usually equates to 3% of your budget.
Stay tuned next week for more design tips. If you need help or have any questions on home design, please email me at email@example.com. I’d love to help you complete the home of your dreams!
What does your dream home look like? Contemporary, Traditional, Craftsman, Mid Century Modern? Townhome, House, Apartment?
Whichever style or type of home you choose, there are important steps to follow in designing your dream home. In this 5 part feature, we will be looking at 15 helpful steps, guiding us to complete the home of our dreams. Today we'll cover steps one to three.
1. Selecting your perfect structure.
We all know to keep a folder of tear sheets of desired looks, from magazines. Don't worry about cost just yet; I want you to keep your mind open at this point. Tear out anything at all that catches your eye or makes your heart flutter!
After accumulating several photos, look for a similarity. In general do you like ranchers or multi-level homes? Stone, brick, wood, stucco? Lots of windows, or cozy and quiet? Come up with a theme - 'your look'. Speak with your builder and architect about which type of home can be placed on your lot. Often something we like, can be incorporated into what we can afford.
The style of your exterior architecture should influence your interior design. i.e. Victorian homes generally look best with traditional interiors; lodges look wonderful with structured, but casual furnishings. Remember to bring that exterior feeling inside. For example, exterior rock siding also works for the interior fireplace surround.
#2. Floor plans and elevations:
On to the inside. Have a copy of your floor plan available, this is a must! If you are not building a new home, you can hire a design firm to draft out your existing floor plans. We need plans to either build from scratch, add on, or renovate.
Elevation plans are also important - they allow you to visualize the finished look of a vertical wall. An elevation is a view of an interior or exterior wall. You are standing back, looking directly at the wall. This is a flat, two-dimensional view. Only the height and width are obvious. This view of the wall shows items that cannot be clearly shown in plan. This could be wall moldings, doors, window sizes, light switches, electrical outlets, or a finish pattern that is applied on the wall.
List the needs you have for your house. How do you really live? Be honest!
Do you need a: play room, large kitchen, four bedrooms, den, or a large family room? Write a list of what you do each day - down to the nitty gritty- including things like how much laundry you do, which door you generally use to enter a home - garage, side or front door.
Things like these really let you customize your home to your unique needs. For example; when I come home I rarely enter via the front door. I park in the garage and usually bring items from the car into the home. I immediately enter the laundry room, so, I need a place right near the door to set down my bags of groceries, design sample boards, etc.
A pet peeve of mine is when you enter the home from the garage, come inside, then open the closet door to put away your coat - while someone in your home is trying to greet you - but they are blocked by an open closet door. To avoid this, ensure the door swings are drawn in on the plans to all you to have smooth sailings whichever door or hallway you use!
Knowing how to customize your floor plan really helps you plan a home to really suit your needs.
Stay tuned for the remaining steps!
If you need help designing a dream home, or just the perfect room, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we are here to help.
Hi everyone, here's my first design blog (dipping her big toe in cautiously).
I thought I would start with something that a lot of us have trouble with in interior design - scale and proportion.
Some interior designers use the terms proportion and scale synonymously.
To be professional, we will need to make a fine distinction:
Proportion is the relationship of one part of an object, to its other parts.
In other words, proportion is the relationship of one part of a single piece of furniture to other parts of the same piece of furniture. For example, the cocktail table top below, that is in proportion to its legs.
Scale refers to the size of one piece of furniture in relation to the size of the other furniture in the room, or in relation to the size of the room itself. For example, a giant lamp next to a chair, would be out of scale. An object is in scale when its size is harmonious with the size of the objects and space around it.
OK, so now what?
Let’s assume that you found a sofa for a living room with suitable and pleasing proportions. Now you've got to visualise what will happen when you add different sized pieces to create a furniture grouping around this sofa.
Take the scale test. When you visualise end tables on either side of the sofa, you don't have to measure to see whether or not the scale works, you just feel instinctively that the scale is right. You will look at an object and instinctively measure it, not by its actual size, but by its visual weight.
An object’s visual weight will be influenced by its shape, colour, and pattern, as follows:
The larger its shape, the heavier its visual weight. (OK that’s easy, what else?)
The more intense its colour, the heavier at its visual weight.
The bolder the pattern, the heavier at its visual weight.
These things we intrinsically realize, but sometimes we need to stop, look at our rooms, and see if we have design balance.
When you select furniture, you want to consider only pieces that are suitable in scale with one another. This is just another aspect of achieving harmony. A room cannot be harmonious if one or more pieces of furniture are out of scale.
How do you go about selecting pieces that are in scale to one another? Always try to start with the most important piece of furniture first. i.e. a large dining room needs a large dining room table. This piece must be in scale to the size of the room. If it's not, forget it. The room arrangement just cannot work. We need to select a different piece.
Scale in large rooms. Big rooms can handle big furniture. In fact big rooms require big furniture. In addition, a large room can handle furniture that features intense colour and bold patterns. What's more, a big room calls for large architectural features too. Such a room seems more in scale if it features big windows, big doors and a big fireplace. In other words, the architectural elements of the room should be in scale to the size of the room.
Small rooms: Well this is where we break the rules. In the 'old days', we used small furniture in small rooms. But not anymore. We're finding that we can indeed use large furniture in small rooms - however the proportion of the furniture must be in proportion to the other furniture in the room. No large sofas and tiny coffee tables here!
In reality, these are not a sequence of steps, but rather common sense using the rules of scale and proportion.
Good luck and happy designing!
Jil, Jil Sonia Interiors
Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer at Jil Sonia Interior Designs.