Monthly Archives: March 2015

What’s Your Inspiration?

Living Room

Every great design has a starting point. Where we take our inspiration from depends on a number of different factors. Anything from the purpose or function of a space, to paint colors, to our own individual experiences and preferences all influence our design decisions. The one thing I’ve learned is not to be scared to try something. Let your personality shine through and have fun with a space!

Frequently when we are planning a design for a Home Staging project we have to work with some existing features. If the home is vacant, quite often the paint color or material finishes will dictate what would look better and often becomes the starting point for the design. Certain color tones simply work well together and allow us to quickly go from A to B in the design process smoothly. Working with the features of a space will always give you a better finished product than trying to force a design that is inconsistent with the features or colors of the space. You’ll see this when someone uses ultramodern design in a very traditional space. Forcing a design will look exactly like what it is. There is a way to blend certain aspects of different design “look”, but it needs to be done cautiously and very well!

We often stage occupied homes. Sometimes it is with just an accessory package or occasionally with a combination of furniture and accessories. In cases like this we may take inspiration from their furniture, paint colors, an area rug, or even a nice piece of artwork. Whatever color tones draw our attention in the space will always be the starting point for the design scheme. We take what speaks to us in the space and build on it and run with it for the whole space! The beauty of working with a Professional Stager is that we have a wide range of selection of décor and accessories to compliment any color scheme and any “look”. So, if you need a little more of a certain color or theme – chances are pretty good I can find something in our warehouse to expand and complete the design to perfection!

For staging projects we typically like to layer the colors in a space to provide depth and dimension in the photographs. A monochromatic color scheme can look elegant and sophisticated but it can be a real challenge to photograph to show a space well. Very few Realtors use Professional Photographers with the skill to make a space look like it should be on the cover of a magazine. That is why we usually use a small pop of color to provide interest and dimension. It draws the eye to the things we want you to focus on. Just the right amount of pop, in the right color tones that all flow beautifully within a space and buyers are automatically drawn into a room, and through the home simply by their desire to “see more”. In this way a home will sell itself! Too many colors in a space or a blend of the wrong colors create a different reaction. Buyers know something is off but may not be able to put their finger on what. They just know the home left them unsettled.

When designing your own space, take your time to find what gives you the most inspiration in the space. Is it a fireplace? The view? The function of the room like a sunroom? Maybe it’s the paint colors or the existing furniture that you need to incorporate in the design. What does it say to you? What mood does it set? Cooler colors tend to the calming effect. Lots of white can have a sterile effect that some people love and others are uncomfortable in. Warm colors are often inviting and soothing. Bright colors can be lively, exciting and exhilarating. What is the architecture style of the space? Is it turn of the century traditional or sleek and ultra-modern?

What is the function of the space? Is it a space you want to use for relaxing or for exercising? Do you want quiet contemplation or a fun space for the family to hang out that will energize you? How you intend to use the space should influence the way you design it. What furniture must the space accommodate and what color is the furniture? You should choose colors that balance and compliment the other color tones in the space, this includes anything from flooring and paint to the tones of the granite tile or carpeting.

Finally, have fun. If you just love the shabby chic look, then have fun with some fabulous décor to give your space the right pieces. Remember lighting plays an important role in setting a mood so choose your lighting with purpose and design in mind. The right accent pieces in your accessories can pull a space together beautifully. Less is always more in a good rule. An understated space will always have more impact than one that is overdone. The first impression people get of an overdone room is being overwhelmed and not knowing where to look. This leaves people uncomfortable and looking for a way out. So, choose your design with care, with just the right touches in the right place. Something I always do if I’m unsure what I want in a space is I’ll try a piece there for a while and see if I like it. Sometimes it looks fabulous and I love it and it “stays”. Sometimes is grows on me as I rearrange a few other pieces in the space until it “works”. Occasionally it just does nothing for me and I need to try something else. When it’s your home you have the luxury of time to determine if you like something or not. So, take you time and try something new. Stick with your inspiration as your main design scheme. This will keep you on track and true to your plan. 

If you really need some help, bring some photos and feel free to stop by our booth at the Home Expressions Show or stop by for our Stage Presentation on Sunday at 3:00 pm! Hope to see you there! I always find tonnes of inspiration at the show! Enjoy!

Space Planning, Big and Small


Planning and designing rooms has become so second nature I rarely struggle with the details. However, I have learned that planning and organizing spaces for myself is SO much more challenging! We’re moving into our new warehouse this week and the move in itself is massive, but planning all the storage necessary to exact measurements was a huge job!

I still follow the same principles, what are the “must haves” that you need to plan space for? How much space will they require today and will you be adding to them – so how much space do I need to allow for those items in the future? Designing a space is all about the planning. Right down to the last detail.

I had to plan out exactly what I needed for storage to accommodate all our artwork, accessories, bedding and bath linens, drapery and hardware, furniture, area rugs, etc… I had to build the shelving to accommodate multiple sofa/loveseats – to exacting measurements. Then I allowed for additional storage above for smaller furniture. Artwork shelving, had to be multiple heights to accommodate everything from large mirrors and artwork to small accent pieces. So many details to consider. I also know we’ll need room to grow, so building to accommodate what I have now would not work. It would be so much more difficult to add-on after the fact so we wanted to ensure we built for now and a few years into the future at least!!

This is really not much different than planning a kitchen or bath renovation. What items do you need to have storage for? Do you need easy access on a pull our drawer vs. below counter stationary shelves? Custom height counters for taller or shorter individuals? What do you need to keep handy and readily accessible for daily/weekly use vs. those items that may only be used a few times a year? How much will you be adding to what you have, how much space must we allow for additional items, dry/canned food goods, or hair/skin care products? Some people use just a few and replace when they run out. Other people need to have a large selection to choose from. We need to determine how they need to use the space and then plan the space so it works for them. There is nothing worse than going through the time, effort and expense of a reno to find you forgot to plan for something and now have no place to put it!

Although I’m anxious with anticipation to move into the warehouse I’m also quite anxious about whether I’ve remembered to plan for all the storage we will need. My husband is already asking me how long it will take me to “fill up this space?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…. In the meantime, planning this level of detail was excellent practice to keep my planning and design skills sharp! 

Biggest Tip:  When planning what storage you will need, continually look through the stuff you need to store and make sure you’ve got a place for everything. Then go back and double check, and then triple check! Then allow some additional space for growth. After all we all end up accumulating more than what we have, and I know my hubby is right. I will always get more décor and accessories and furniture. We’ll just have to see how long it takes me to outgrow the new space!

What is “Aging in Place?”

chair-lifts-for-seniors rails 

Although “Aging in Place” is a well-recognized term in The United States, it is a relatively new term here in Manitoba. I was fortunate enough to be part of the first class through the Manitoba Home Builder’s Association to complete the course for the “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” (CAPS) designation here in Manitoba. We are only the second province to offer this program Canada wide. So what exactly is “Aging in Place?”

A CAPS Professional recognized the needs of an aging population, today and tomorrow. We are in a society where the number of seniors is growing faster than any other generation. Concerns like home care, extended health care, and assisted living alternatives are urgent topics of planning for every level of government. The CAPS program bridges the gap between the planners and the actual designers/builders and renovators.

It allows us to make small adjustments to building designs and renovation plans to allow the home to become consistent with “Universal Design” principles. These principles take into account the needs of a family at the time of the renovation, but also in the future. It allows home owners, as partners in planning, to make small modifications to renovations plans to allow for anything from a future in-law suite to a potential elevator, and everything in between. This does NOT mean your renovation budget suddenly doubles or triples! It means that as part of the bathroom renovation we may put additional supports or blocking in the walls where you may require support for grab bars down the road, cost of labour and materials at most $10, however, the savings is to you so you do not have to demolish and re-do a shower in 5 – 10 years; it can be anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000!!! That is a significant savings!! In the case of an elevator, if you build stacked closets between floors that are framed for what an elevator would require – it suddenly becomes very easy to install an elevator for someone in a wheelchair – and the overall savings is again, tens of thousands of dollars. The cost in the initials design and building plans is minimal. 

Universal design is built on the principle of planning for the future. Let’s face it, no one knows what the future holds. Everyday someone is suddenly faced with a drastic change in the lifestyle due to a sudden traumatic life event. Be it illness or injury, it can happen at any age, and a sudden event can change your entire life in a split second. You and your family are now faced with the emotional, financial and physical challenges of going on and learning how to adapt to your new life. Well, imagine for a moment that you lived in a home that was planned with universal design. Your doorways were wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. The walls had been properly reinforced are required to allow for chair lifts, grab bars, ramps, etc. to allow you or your family member the ability to maintain as much independence as they possibly could. Instead of having to now face a tremendous hardship of thousands of dollars in renovations – you could simply purchase and have the equipment installed and minor modifications made to your universally designed home…what peace of mind would this be worth to you and your family? If you didn’t have to suddenly sell your home and look for a new one, how much would that mean to you? If your elderly parent suddenly became ill and needed to move in with you, could they do so tomorrow? If you had worked with a CAPS professional when you designed your home, or completed your recent renovation, you would be able to accommodate your family member with relatively little modifications and cost for a calm and smooth transition for everyone in the family. Let’s face it when dealing with any traumatic event, there is enough stress on everyone involved, the last thing a family needs is major renovations required urgently so Mom or Dad, or your child can come home from the hospital.

We also plan for medical conditions that are progressive. When you have a chronic condition that will cause your health, mobility and/or independence to deteriorate over time, you should work with a CAPS professional. We can help plan for your requirements for today, tomorrow and into the future. We team with your family/caregivers, the builders, medical team and occupational therapists to determine exactly what your needs are today, what they will be in the future and how we can minimize disruption to your home and life while allowing the modifications to be made that you require, when you require them. It’s all about planning and foresight at the onset so as changes occur in your medical situation your contractor can come in and make that next small change that you need. At the initial planning, maybe having electrical and supports in the wall at the tops and bottom of the stairs, so you can have a chair lift installed for nothing more than the cost of the chairs lift and labour. There’s no need to rip apart the walls or stairs, etc.

Finally, many people think about “Again in Place” as someone who is “handicapped”. Although this is often the case, it also refers to anyone with a mobility issue. Bad knees or hips that may need replacing but cause difficulty with stairs. You have a mobility issue. Chronic arthritis? You may need some modifications to cupboard doors and handles to make things easier for you to open/close. Starting to have a hard time hearing your spouse? Not the “selective hearing” many of us choose to have but real challenges hearing conversations, the TV or in situations with background noise? There are modifications that can be made to ensure at the bare minimum your life safety is protected. CO2 and smoke alarms can be connected to lighting or buzzers that can wake sleeping parents to ensure they have adequate time to escape a dangerous situation! Mom or Dad have issues with falling? Did you know once an elderly parent experiences a serious fall and recovers, the chances of them recovering from a second serious fall and less than 50%? Did you also know there are things that can be done to provide them more safety? Small modification to their home that will allow them to remain in their home longer and more importantly in a safe environment that provides peace of mind to everyone in the family! I know I have issues with arthritis in my knees and am already starting to consider the consequences down the road.

As a small side note, I have personal experience with life surprises. Our youngest daughter was born blind, has limited mobility and requires a wheelchair for long distances, is developmentally delayed and would not understand what a smoke or CO2 detector was, and also has a seizure disorder. We had no idea when I was pregnant and it seems we have a rare gene combination that was a surprise to all. She is our sunshine and a blessing in our home every day. However, planning our home so it helps her function independently has been a challenge at times. Life surprises can come at any time, suddenly or over time but as we age, one thing is certain, our bodies change! What was once easy can become a real challenge.

We often tend to think of all the “issues” as normal parts of aging, and they are! As medical breakthroughs continue to happen, our life expectancy also continues to climb. The chances that we will be faced with an “Aging Issue” with parents or ourselves is almost inevitable! However, your quality of life should never have to be compromised as your life situation and life needs change! There is nothing more heartbreaking than a parent being moved out of their home before they are ready or more importantly, before they really need to be! So explore the options! Consult with a CAPS Professional and look at all the options! You may be surprised what can be done! More importantly, providing a safe, easily accessible environment that continues to allow independence is what we all dream of as we age! This is the bare minimum of what we should strive to achieve for any loved one! 

Angie Kendel, Maximum Impact Plus, CSP, CID, CAPS