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January 28, 2011

15 Essential steps you need to know, when designing your dream home. Part 1 of 5

What does your dream home look like? Contemporary, Traditional, Craftsman?

Lake Washington Residence contemporary landscape

Whichever style you choose, there are important steps to follow.  In this 5 part feature, we will be looking at 15 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.

McIntosh Poris Associates traditional exterior

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. 

Boston Architects: Eck | MacNeely Architects inc. contemporary exterior

2.  Floor plans and elevations:
Melina - floor plan traditional exterior
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. 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.
3.  Function:

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 things 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. 

Laundry Room traditional laundry room

Knowing how to customize your floor plan really helps you plan a home to really suit your needs.  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!

Stay tuned for the remaining steps!

If you need help designing a dream home, or just the perfect room, Reflections Interior Designs is here to help.

Please email us at, let's create something beautiful together!

January 16, 2011

What Inspires you?

You know you're an interior designer when... I'm looking at my cute little doggy and it hits me... he is a perfect neutral colour combination!  Gray, cream,  a tiny bit of tan and black!
Jil McDonald interior designer photo
Looking at his silky hair gave me the inspiration to paint my whole house - and paint it in his colours!
My first thought was, hmmm... does he go with the carpet?  Yup.
The existing furniture? Yup.
OK, what about the granite counter top and dark cabinets.  Well, sorta, but maybe I'll paint the cabinets cream. for now we'll have to ignore the busy granite.
When selecting colours we need to ensure that they relate to other things in the home.

  The move nowadays is to more of a fresh, clean palette, gray works to balance these colours. We're moving away from the browns and the dusty colours.  Yippee! So, we'll go with gray and creams, with a touch of black for sharp accents.

A few years ago I had a client, single male, who did not know what colour he wanted.  Everything else in his house was white - other than the 50" flat screen TV.  I asked him if I could look in his closet and... it was full of Canuck jerseys (at the time they were wearing dark red and steel blue).

 Well we decided to go with the dark red (Sundried Tomato) for his basement suite , with a steel blue bedroom (Black Pepper).  It looked fantastic.  He was only home during the nights, and loved watching movies, so for him, these dark rich colours worked beautifully.  We used his closet to inspire us - imagine that.

When looking for a new colour scheme, take a look around your home, there's lots to inspire you!

January 9, 2011

The Rule of Thirds

Who has heard of the rule of thirds?

 This important rule says that most designs can be made more interesting by visually dividing a wall or a photo into thirds vertically and/or horizontally; and placing our most important elements within those thirds. 

If you have a fireplace on a 12' wide wall, and perhaps the fireplace is 4' wide, well, you'd place the fireplace in the centre, leaving a 4' patch of wall on each side.  Thereby dividing that wall in thirds.   
We want the visual tension and excitement that the rule of thirds gives.

Another important design concept is Visual Center and Balance.

Placing important elements or the focal point of the design within the visual center of a piece is another design trick. We all know the actual centre of a photo is right in the middle of the shot. But, did you know the visual center is slightly to the right of and above the actual center of the photo?  This is the area that our eyes are drawn to immediately.

This "rule" originally was developed by photographers to ensure every shot looks great.  Don't we as designers, or homeowners want that as well?  Basically when you are composing a photograph, or a wall, imagine two vertical lines and two horizontal lines dissecting your image into nine squares as shown below.

Placing your most important elements at one or more of the four intersections of those lines, helps create interesting photos or design.


Most balanced designs (and even unbalanced ones) rely on a grid. This invisible structure  helps ensure that all the elements are placed in the right location, thereby achieving balance as well as  helping with continuity and consistency of design. These are design principles that help the professional designer achieve visual balance.

If you'd love to have a visually balanced room, one that is truly pleasing to the eye, please email me at

January 3, 2011

Something a little Sparkly

Today I'm contemplating taking down my Christmas tree and all the decorations, but... I don't want to.  Yes, everything is dusty and a thorough cleaning is in order, but after some careful consideration, I've finally figured out it's the sparkle I don't want to lose.
I didn't realize it before, but, I'm a sparkly kinda gal.  OK before you get all worried, I'm not one of those people covered in bling, or has her house decorated with glitz all over, but a room does need a tiny bit of sparkle.

Think of a beautiful table set with glowing stemware like these above from Kimberley Seldon. These champagne flutes say "Cheers" in 8 different languages.

What about a new dining room chandelier?  I love this one above by James R. Moder

Or what do you think of these gorgeous tiles?
 These by the Glass Tile outlet are beautiful.  Makes me want to redo my entire ensuite!

 As we go through the winter, now is the time to really 'reflect' (pardon the pun, I just couldn't resist) on bringing the light inside. Every room does need a little sparkle, something to reflect the light within your home.  Look around your room, is it dark? Flat feeling? Needing a little zing?

 Our homes do influence our mood, as we start the New Year; why not make 2011 the best it can be?
If you need help with the sparkle factor please contact me at Reflections Interior Designs. I'd love to give you the home of your dreams!