Archive for January 2019

11 Designer Tips for a Stylish Office Space You Want to Work In

January 30th, 2019

Let’s face it, getting in a productive flow doesn’t come easy. There is a myriad of things that can distract or make us unfocused at work—lack of accountability, boredom, a long commute, stress; the list goes on. But the good news is is that our direct atmosphere is one productivity influencer that is within our control. While the wrong atmosphere can be distracting, the right atmosphere can stir the senses—motivating us to work efficiently and stay focused. How about “design is money” for a saying?

Studies show that a person’s work environment can impact their production output. Hence why more and more young companies and startups are investing in thoughtful design and office layout. So all the more reason to invest, and be thoughtful in your 40-hour-a-week surroundings.

Decorating an office, however, can be perplexing. How do we blend professionalism with personal favorites? Or discern decor that will encourage focus versus distraction? (For example, that long couch calling you to take an afternoon snooze.) In an effort to suss this out, we interviewed some of our favorite office designers to get their simple suggestions and strategies for decorating an at-work or at-home office that is beautiful and functional. Because these two goals are not mutually exclusive.

Check out these 11 easy tips below so you can avoid overthinking your office decorating scheme and spend more time masterminding your work.

Start With Ergonomics

Before getting into the specifics of your office decor, you’ll want to start by laying out a functioning working space, taking into account different working styles and requirements of the office, suggests Alison Davin of Jute. “Some people like to stand while working and using a counter height desk allows for that,” she says. “Others like to spread out and have lots of room to keep piles of things close at bay. Someone else might prefer an L shaped desk so that they can move between two workstations or have two screens up at once.”

Create different workstations that suit your staff’s personality and day-to-day logistical needs.

Sometimes simple observation will be all you need or try interviewing your staff on what a perfect environment means to them. Same goes for designing your own personal office. “Start with great working ergonomics,” she emphasizes.

Customize Your Storage

Sure, we live in the digital age where all we need to do to acquire more file storage space is to update our iCloud account. But regardless, clutter is inevitable. You’ll need space for those digital storage devices and the working basics — pens, pencils, printing paper, notepads, dry erase boards, easels or important files.

Similar to having a functional and organized workspace, “customize storage to suit your needs,” says Davin. “Figure out what you need easy access to and make your storage work for you so that everything has a home.” She suggests creating custom storage for just about every need — from files to yarn to books — so everything has a place. And besides, “good office feng shui starts with decluttering.”

Use Repurposed Furniture for Storage

Now for the fun part, storage design. According to Davin, a clever office designer trick is to re-purpose pieces you already own for storage. For example, a dresser turned to a filing cabinet or adding old bins and baskets to fill empty shelves. Or try using old dining chairs as chairs for your guests or a built out closet with ample shelves to fill with woven baskets. Here, function and design intersect as it adds a sense of home and personal style to your office space.

Use Table Lamps for Warm and Energizing Lighting

If there is one thing that can make us feel sleepy and drained, it’s bad lighting. Especially traditional fluorescent office lights. As a smart and aesthetically pleasing solution to the, what we would call, a serious aesthetic problem, pepper your office with lamps — big or small, standing or table. Lamps bring in a nice sense of relaxation and comfort (even with overhead lighting installed). “Table lamps instead of task lighting are a great way to make a desk feel warm,” says BHDM Design principal, Dan Mazzarini. Plus, a beautiful table lamp can be the perfect statement piece on a simple desk.

One Big Comfy Work Chair Does Wonders

We know sitting all day is not great for our bodies, especially if we’re in an uncomfy creaky chair that invites us to slouch and shift. So use this information as an excuse to invest in a big comfy office chair that will encourage good posture and to get up to take breaks. When selecting your chair, keep the design top of mind. A chair can really pop out behind a plain wood desk or even serve as the focal point of the office. Plus, you deserve a throne to sit on. “Good looking is important, we love something with leather,” says Mazzarini. Mazzarini recommends the Eames® Executive Chair from DWR in tobacco leather.

It’s All About the Rug

When it comes to making your office homier, according to Mazzarini, there is one obvious answer “A rug!,” he says. “A rug that grounds the room and warms it up takes it from workplace to residential.”

Your rug can come in many shapes, sizes and designs that connects your office space look. Though some office decor stylists like celebrity interior designer Cathy Hobbs have their personal favorites. “Shag rugs. Think soft and fluffy, solid colored and sleek,” she says. “Shag rugs come in various thicknesses and shapes and can help anchor and define a space.”

Also, if you’re lost on creative ideas for your office, use your statement-piece rug for design direction. It can help determine the color story and thematic look of your entire office.

Having a Creative Block? Go Midcentury Modern

Midcentury modern design naturally lends itself to a  blend of simple angular professional design with traditional home comfort. “The beauty of midcentury modern design is the pieces are timeless, and they can be staple that won’t go out of style — so you don’t have to worry about updating your office furniture!,” says Hobbs.

Incorporate this look with walnut and solid hardwood furniture, suggests Hobbs. “Walnut and hardwoods in rich, deep tones can add a classic and refined feel to nearly any space.”

Additionally, tufted side chairs are easily identifiable with the midcentury modern period — especially the pieces made out of leather. “Butterscotch, olive, white and black are leather colors often found on midcentury furniture pieces.”

Use Mirrors as a Space Filler

Now it’s time to address affordability. There are many affordable art pieces that you can illuminate your office with but one of the best office designer-used tricks are mirrors — whether oversized to make space feel twice as big or small and decorative. “Small mirrors placed in a series or grouping can be a creative and attractive display,” says Hobbs.

Mirrors can also complete a space when you feel that you’ve filled it enough with wall art or because you simply want to take the less-is-more approach to your office composition. Have a big office to fill? Hobbs notes that the office entryway is prime mirror real estate.

Keep it Classic With Black and White

“Black and white are often forgotten colors,” says Hobbs. “If you are looking for a modern and minimal look, consider black-and-white or even all-white artwork.”

Black and white are a timeless, classic color scheme that is always hip and trendy. Because your putting the two classiest colors together the sheer allure of a black and white office is undeniable. Not only can you use black in white in furniture, but “black and white photography feels great,” says Mazzarini. If you opt for a gallery wall, Manzannari suggests trying a collection of art, layered or against the floor with the same black or white color frame.

Use a Diptych or Triptych for Wall Art

Artwork divided into sections, such as the diptych and triptych (from the Greek meaning two (dip) or three (trip)) is a clever design go-to, advises Hobbs. Though the art is divided they are hinged together visually as one painting, abstract design or photograph.”This is a common design trick of interior designers to create the illusion of art in a series.” Gallery wall not your style? Using this design approach is a great way to ground big empty walls with one eye-catching piece.

Surround Yourself With Things You Love

You’re going to be spending potential late nights or stressful weeks in your office so at the end of the day, be around things that make you feel elated and relaxed. “Personalizing your space helps you stay inspired and get through the day,” says Davin. “Set out your favorite flowers, objects and hang artwork. When you like the pieces around you it improves your mood and productivity.”

Put up a photograph of you during your favorite zen vacation, adorn the room with greenery to give the mirage feeling of being outdoors. A beautiful candle can also work wonders. Think of it this way: When you look up from your computer after reading a detailed long email or because you need to quickly problem solve something whatever you see helps to ignite your brainpower.


House Looking Like a Mess? This Cleanup Guide Will Help

January 28th, 2019

Now that the holidays have come and gone, it’s highly likely that your home is full of wrapping paper scraps, wine stains, champagne bottles, confetti, and leftovers. We get it—cleaning up can be a tedious chore. But the longer you put off operation cleanup, the more daunting it’ll feel. (Believe us: We get it. All we want to do is to fall into a deep food coma and watch Netflix for eight hours straight.)

Whether you plan to host more parties for upcoming holidays or you’re looking forward to as many quiet nights in as possible, you’ll feel a lot better if your home is looking and feeling its best. Get a jump start on the tackling the mess today so you can enjoy a clean house for the rest of the week. This way, you’ll also get ahead on accomplishing your wellness goals for the New Year. With this guide of must-know cleanup tactics, the process will be a lot smoother.

32 Home Design Trends That Will Rule in 2019

January 25th, 2019

If you’re looking to redecorate or renovate your home in 2019, you’ve come to the right place. We searched through Houzz data, browsed hundreds of home design photos, reread past articles and interviewed professional designers to bring you this collection of materials, colors and other home design ideas that you can expect to see a lot more of in 2019. Which will you bring home?


1. Full-tile backsplash feature walls.

Attention-grabbing backsplash tile is nothing new in well-designed kitchens. We’ve seen colorful geometric and quirky patterns show up in a lot of kitchens for years now.

But what many professionals are seeing more of lately is an interest in taking the tile from countertop to ceiling, including behind floating shelves and flanking range hoods, to create a striking feature wall.

This idea aligns with some broader trends as well. The 2018 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study shows that half of homeowners are opening up their kitchens to interior spaces, and that the most popular kitchen layout is the L-shape. This openness means the kitchen is always on display and therefore in need of a good focal point. A full-tile feature wall draws your eye in, whether through shimmer and texture with something like a simple white subway tile or through bold color and pattern as with a Moroccan design.

It’s also a relatively cost-effective way to achieve a stunning effect. Buying an extra several square feet of tile won’t break the budget, but it looks high-end.

2. Window walls.

Cabinet design has become much more efficient in recent years. Deep drawers on perimeter and base cabinets that bring items at the back of the cabinets out into the open means that fewer kitchen cabinets are needed overall. In response, designers and homeowners have shifted to removing upper cabinets on at least one kitchen wall, often to create an expansive window wall that can deliver views and lots of natural light.

“This makes the kitchen more open and expansive,” designer Jennifer Ott says. “It feels less top-heavy. To make up for the lost storage space, walk-in pantries or pantry walls, in which the cabinets span the floor to ceiling, are extremely popular. With upper wall cabinets out of the way, homeowners can put in a line of pendant lighting to light their countertop surfaces in lieu of undercabinet lighting.”

3. Wood on wood (on wood).


Many of the most popular kitchen photos in 2018 featured lots of wood, and it’s easy to see why. Wood adds loads of warmth and character, and it pairs well with whites and grays, two of the most popular colors for kitchen cabinets and walls.

Ott says she’s seeing an increase in interest for medium-tone woods rather than super dark or light ones. Wood also adds charm that aligns with the trend toward farmhouse style, which has been gaining in popularity every year for the past three years, according to the recent Houzz kitchen trends report.

4. Cream-colored cabinets.

White is still the top choice for cabinet color, according to the Houzz kitchen report, but no two whites are created equal. Some paint companies offer more than 150 white paints — how do you choose?

Many homeowners are moving away from the bright, stark whites and embracing off-whites that feel warmer and cozier, like Skimming Stone by Farrow & Ball.

Creamy cabinets paired with other warm finishes like wood and brass and blue-gray tile create a calm and serene feel that works well with transitional and farmhouse-inspired styles, the two most popular kitchen styles.

5. Quartz countertops.

Engineered quartz was finally crowned the most popular countertop material in 2018 following a three-year decline in granite, according to Houzz research.

The natural stone and resin material is incredibly durable and can visually mimic the look of more expensive and maintenance-heavy materials like marble and slate.

In fact, quartz is so popular that even risings costs associated with trade tariffs haven’t dissuaded homeowners, who save elsewhere in their remodeling budgets in order to still get quartz countertops. “Prices for quartz that either was made in China or routed through China are now seeing 20 percent markups to make up the increased purchase price,” designer Carl Mattison says. “I find in my world people are relying on me, the designer, to help offset costs so they can still get what they want.”

6. Emerald and deep teal islands.

As you’ll see later in this article, darker, moodier colors seem to be catching on. Mattison sees a lot of emerald and deep teal being used in kitchens, especially for islands, like the Deep Sea Dive by Sherwin-Williams on the island in this St. Louis kitchen by Jennifer Chapman Designs.

“The perimeter cabinetry can be a neutral from white to gray and the island can bring a pop of color to the space,” Mattison says. “By doing only the island a color, people can see the color without it being overwhelming.”

7. A new take on white subway tile backsplashes.

A backsplash in standard white 3-by-6-inch subway tile is a classic look that works in almost any style of kitchen. But as with everything that peaks in popularity, design fatigue can set in and designers and homeowners start looking for an alternative while sticking with the freshness of white tile.

Larger-format tiles in herringbone, chevron or stacked patterns — anything other than the traditional offset brick pattern — gives the same crisp look but with a bit more nuance and interest, without taking a huge design risk. “With the larger size, the grout lines are minimized, and a clean, fresh take on the old is just what people are looking for,” Mattison says.

Ott is seeing even more of a departure from standard rectangular tile. “Sharp, linear geometric patterns are being nudged aside by softer, curvier, abstract organic patterns and nature motifs,” she says.

8. Custom drawer inserts in an unexpected color or stain.

Designers often suggest that homeowners splurge on the areas they interact with the most. Cabinet hardware is a good example, because you’ll be touching the handles or pulls several times a day. But designer Sarah Robertson likes to go a bit further.

She often encourages clients to go with a custom drawer insert in an unexpected color or stain, different than what’s on the cabinet drawer exterior. Shown here inside her own kitchen are custom stained walnut drawer inserts. “These are something I really try to talk clients into doing,” Robertson says. “You don’t think about how often drawers are open in the kitchen. You’re in and out of them all the time. It’s such a beautiful touch to have inside drawers.”

9. Kitchens that completely open to the outdoors.

A single door connecting a kitchen to an outdoor area doesn’t cut it anymore. What homeowners want is a blurring of inside and out. Large sliding and collapsible doors give that feeling and help increase living space.

10. Countertop cabinets.

A designer’s kitchen is always a good place to spot great design ideas. Going back to Robertson’s personal kitchen, you’ll see two countertop cabinets in each corner flanking the sink.

Corners in kitchens often go unused because they’re difficult to reach and wind up being dead space. A tall cabinet with a drawer on the bottom creates a smart storage opportunity for quick-grab items like spices, oils and snacks.

11. Black is back. OK, it’s not like black ever went away, it’s just that we’re finding homeowners are more open to really taking a chance on embracing a heavy dose of the dramatic color in their kitchens.

Large swaths of black range hoods, island accent colors and even full-on all-black cabinetry has been popping up a lot lately. Many of the most popular kitchen photos uploaded to Houzz in 2018 featured black or dark cabinets.

Pair black cabinets with white walls, backsplash and countertops for a dynamic, sophisticated and high-contrast look.

12. Abstract island shapes.
One of the most popular articles of the year on Houzz was about island shapes you might not have thought of. That might be surprising, considering that the majority of islands you see tend to be rectangular. But that just doesn’t work for every kitchen layout.
Modifying the shape into something more free-form can open up circulation paths and create more work and storage space.

13. Gray, white and wood.

While the aforementioned kitchen trends will certainly show up again and again in 2019, it’s worth looking at what’s likely to be the most dominant kitchen trend. This photo of a Boston space by Hawthorn Builders is a good example of the type of kitchen you’re likely to see more of in the coming year.

This kitchen combines almost every top trend from the recent Houzz kitchen report: an L-shaped layout, transitional style, white Shaker-style cabinets, white quartz countertops, gray walls, a white backsplash, wood floors and stainless steel appliances.


14. Destination bathtubs.

There’s been a lot of debate over the years over whether you should keep a bathtub when remodeling your bathroom. But it’s clear that those who enjoy taking baths really enjoy taking baths. Couple that with people spending more to increase the size of their bathrooms and create a spa-like environment and you’ve got some homeowners who aren’t just keeping the tub, they’re celebrating it.

The ever-popular freestanding tub is now more like a free-range tub, out in its own pasture, creating a destination all its own, with a great view and other accessories to turn bathing into a significant event.

If you’ve got the room, it’s worth considering putting a freestanding tub off on its own. Most people don’t use their bathtub every day, so keeping it out of the more frequent daily path from shower to vanity makes sense.

15. Natural wood vanities.
Bathrooms can often look and feel cold with all that tile, glass and metal. Wood vanities help bring a large dose of warmth. And while wooden vanities aren’t new, what’s catching on is a turn away from dark stained and lacquered vanities — which hide things like grain pattern and knots — toward reclaimed wood or light wood with clear stains that celebrate the details of the grain.
16. Electric fireplaces.

Going back to the destination tub and the idea of creating a spa-like environment in the bathroom, is there anything more luxurious to go with a good soak than flickering flames from a fireplace?

Electric fireplace inserts are relatively low-cost and easy to install, so they can be a worthwhile investment for all the pampering they afford.

17. Easy-reach shower controls.

Reaching in to turn on the shower in the morning and getting hit with a cold blast of water is no way to start the day.

Relocating the shower controls to an opposite wall during a remodel solves that problem.

Talk to your designer and builder about the additional cost that might come from adding the extra plumbing to get this feature.

18. Painted shiplap.
White shiplap has certainly been having a moment in recent years. And while its popularity isn’t necessarily waning, its look is changing. Painted shiplap, usually in grays or dark blues, is showing up a lot. It’s a great look for bathrooms because it adds texture, dimension and character in a room that can often feel sterile.
19. Moroccan tile floors.
Moroccan-patterned tile has been a popular choice for kitchen backsplashes and fireplace surrounds for years now. Increasingly, though, it’s showing up in large swaths as bathroom flooring. You get the clean feel of tile with all the color and style of a bold rug.
20. Drying station.

Few things convey a sense of luxury in a bathroom more than a designated drying station.

21. No-glass showers.

Glass shower enclosures are great for controlling water spray while keeping an open and airy feel. But cleaning such enclosures is no day at the spa.

If you’ve got the room, you can create a completely open shower area like the one in this Tiburon, California, bathroom by Schneider Design Associates. A small curb and partial wall offset a large marble-tiled wet area with enough room for multiple wall-mounted shower heads, a rain shower head and a freestanding tub.

Living Rooms

22. Spanish style.

Implementing Spanish-inspired style and other Mediterranean influences in a living room will automatically check a lot of the boxes on many homeowners’ wish lists. Light, airy, relaxing, casual, comfortable — these are all elements that come naturally with the style.

Creamy white plaster walls, linen upholstery, a collected look, wrought iron light fixtures, large fireplaces and natural wood architectural elements like ceiling beams define this approachable look.

23. Mix of fabrics.

“After years of iconic midcentury modern furniture being all the rage, there’s a shift toward softer, more comfortable pieces that have a ‘lived in’ vibe,” Ott says.

One way designers and homeowners are embracing this is by mixing various fabrics and patterns for a generous collection of textures and sheens.

24. Custom wood wall treatments.

No, this isn’t the wood panel wall look of yesteryear. Rather, many designers are creating custom wood feature walls as a way to add warmth and texture. Mattison had the wall shown here handcrafted out of tongue-and-groove flooring, with the “tongue” removed.

With other projects he’s nailed up 1-by-2-inch wood strips directly to the wall, and has played around with creating diagonal or herringbone patterns or other style treatments. “Having a custom wall or walls in any home easily gives it a higher-end feel,” he says.

A standalone furniture bench turns almost any dining spot into more of a lounge area, and you could tuck a few baskets underneath to hold blankets, games, place settings and more.
Laundry Rooms

27. Compact laundry stations.
Don’t think you need a full-on dedicated room for doing laundry. Many designers have created super-efficient laundry areas in spaces the size of a hallway closet.


28. White board and batten.

The modern farmhouse look isn’t just sweeping through interiors. Exteriors are also seeing some of that throwback love. Five out of the 10 most popular exterior photos uploaded to Houzz in 2018 featured white board-and-batten siding.

A board-and-batten method of construction delivers a charming, homey look and adds texture and interest to what might otherwise be a boring flat facade. And white makes a home pop against any landscape.


29. Dark and moody.

As mentioned earlier with kitchen cabinets, the dark side is expanding its force. “There’s been a sharp turn toward deeper, darker, moodier shades such as navy, black and forest greens,” Ott says. “It’s a reaction against all the whites and brights that have been popular for so long. Colors swing in and out of popularity, so it’s darker, moodier colors’ turn in the spotlight.”
30. Ceiling, walls and trim the same color.
Ott says accent walls are pretty much over. Instead, many homeowners are taking the now-popular moody colors and applying them to every available surface — walls, trim, ceiling — as shown here and in the previous photo. “The effect is a cozier feeling, and gives a more finished result rather than the more jolting effect of just one feature wall,” Ott says.

Home Tech

31. Voice-assisted appliances.

Indeed, the robots are here, and more are coming, whether we like it or not. Home tech is a tricky thing. Everyone seems to like the idea of the convenience promised by more technology in the home, but many people find a headache where there should be relief.

Still, voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home seem to be here to stay. Houzz research shows that home assistants in kitchens, for example, increased in 2018 compared with 2017. And with the devices showing up in more and more homes, more appliances that integrate with voice assistants will become more prevalent.

In 2018, for example, Amazon launched its own microwave. The appliance connects with an Amazon Echo and allows you to ask Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, to “reheat, defrost or microwave your desired cook time and power level.” Whether or not that’s a feature you think you need in your kitchen is up to you.

32. Video chat.

In October 2018, Facebook announced Portal, a device with a 12-megapixel camera on the front that allows you to video-chat with your Facebook friends. Put it on your countertop or in your living room and you can make a video call with anyone who has Facebook Messenger — they don’t also need a Portal.

It’s a nifty feature that feels like something sci-fi has promised us for a long time. The timing, however, isn’t great. With all the security and misuse-of-data issues now dogging Facebook, some homeowners may think twice about giving the company a literal peek into their homes. Nevertheless, die-hard early adopters will make this something you can expect to see in homes in 2019.

This story was published in Houzz in January 2019.