Happy Fall Interior Decorating Ideas

Time to put away our flip flops and pool floaties and take out our plaid throws and carve pumpkins. Here are some interior decorating ideas for fall!

I have to admit, I limit my fall decorations to more of a hint of the season rather than “it’s here!”.  I tend not to decorate for themes. For example, when doing interior decorating for my young clients’ bedrooms, I design in a less obvious way than creating a “themed” room.

Try using fabric pumpkins or even decoupage your pumpkin. For those who want to make it a little bit more for Halloween, use pages out of your favorite scary novel.

Layer a throw on the shoulder of your sofa then let it drape over the arm. You can add another throw on top of that to give more depth and texture. Imagine your sofa as your outfit, and the first throw as the jacket and the throw on top as the scarf.

Another way to bring the fall in is by using jackets, sweater, scarves and hats. If you don’t have coat hooks, simply use 3M Command hooks. Install 4 in a row and hang fall clothing on them.

A heavy wool Fedora, a tweed scarf, a herringbone jacket, and a plaid sweater in fall colors should do the trick! You can change it out to mittens and winter wear when it’s time to bring winter in!

Add a couple of pillows, some logs in a wire basket near the fireplace, books wrapped in tweed fabric on the coffee table, and you’re ready for fall!

Achieve the Right Lighting with LEDs

With all the choices of LED fixtures, it’s no wonder I have had so many requests to design a new lighting plan for existing spaces. Gone are the days of halogen, incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. This is the age of the light emitting diode–LED–bulb.

The LED is a brighter bulb, that has a much longer life and uses less electricity. Most of us grew up buying our light bulbs with the mindset of more watts equals to brighter room. In reality, it’s the lumens that determines the brightness of the bulb. The watts only determines how much electricity it would use.

Using CNET’s table below, you can see that LED uses far less energy but produces more lumens.

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Many of us already have recessed (can) lighting but have non-LED bulbs. You can use the LED without changing the housing.

HOWEVER, it may cause too much heat (it heats upwards where incandescent heats downwards) in the housing which may trip your breaker. Also, aesthetically, it may not fit well in your current housing.

LEDs generally shine bright and are not diffused. They also may not work with existing dimmer switches.

There are easy-to-use DIY retrofit housings for LED bulbs. The housing has a diffused lens so it’s not such a harsh stream. These are not expensive, however as you replace them for all the cans throughout your main level, it will add up. But it’s worth it.

If you haven’t made the switch yet, do a little research and compare. Lighting has a large impact on a space. It has to be spaced properly, have the right bulb and the right amount of brightness.

Here is another helpful chart for you from lumens.com.

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If you’re not sure if you have the right lighting plan, whether overall lighting or task lighting, maybe a professional lighting design plan is what you need.

What Two Hollywood Icons Mean to Audrey Kate Design Solutions

Most people think I named my company after my daughter. I did not. Her name is Lauren, which was inspired by my favorite perfume in the 80s – Lauren by Ralph Lauren.

Audrey Kate Design Solutions is named after Audrey Hepburn and Kate Hepburn, two iconic, glamorous Hollywood actresses of yesteryear that I admire greatly. There are more reasons that I admire them than for being starlets.

Most people think I named my company after my daughter. I did not. Her name is Lauren, which was inspired by my favorite perfume in the 80s – Lauren by Ralph Lauren.

Audrey Kate Design Solutions is named after Audrey Hepburn and Kate Hepburn, two iconic, glamorous Hollywood actresses of yesteryear that I admire greatly. There are more reasons that I admire them than for being starlets.

Katherine Hepburn was known to be a “modern woman”, head strong and business savvy. Her choice to wear her staple trousers was ahead of her time and encouraged other women to wear pants at a time when women only wore dresses and skirts. Kate Hepburn was an empowered woman and laid her own tracks toward her goals.

Audrey Hepburn, (by the way, they are not related at all), studied dance prior to acting. Although she started off in life privileged and sheltered, the war changed that. The war took her family’s wealth away.

She continued to dance, and even danced to raise money for the Dutch Resistance. Audrey was also known for her couture style and we still mimic her look today.

It is not the glitz or her fashion sense that appeals to me. It’s her ties with UNICEF and her humanitarian acts that has me in awe of her. In 1989, she became a UNICEF ambassador and remained loyal to the organization until her death. Her sincere love for the children, grace towards others, and work for charity has inspired me over and over throughout my own life.

I try to embody Audrey and Kate’s qualities personally and in my business. My mission to create designs for you doesn’t stop at giving you something beautiful and within budget. I sincerely work with your family story and encourage laying our own tracks, being sincere in our work relationship, and showing grace and kindness always.

Best Interior Design Differs by Location

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I have recently completed a new kitchen interior design for my home in Spring, Texas. I have learned that work is done differently in Texas and Virginia.

The slab guy was here installing the quartz counter on the island when I noticed he had a plywood template down. I’ve never seen a plywood template before. In my head, I thought he was using this piece of plywood to do last minute nips and tucks outside on the 9’x4’ slab.

Checking in later that afternoon, I noticed that my 2cm stone looks a lot thicker and it had a seam around the lip. I questioned why I had a seam on the lip and why was it thicker than 2cm. Apparently, a common practice in Texas is to lay the plywood under the stone and then add a thicker lip to cover the plywood, hence the seam.

From my experience in Virginia, I have never seen this done and I didn’t understand the reasoning for it. It isn’t unattractive, it’s just I wasn’t prepared for the lip and especially the seam, though it’s a tight seam.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from my slab guy in Virginia so I had to ask if he has ever seen this type of work. Apparently, it’s very common in the west and other areas where earthquakes are more frequent. They use the plywood for added support. It’s not code like needing hurricane proof material for buildings and houses in Florida. It’s just the way it’s done in Texas.

One of the most obvious differences in doing interior design in Texas and Virginia is the local history and how it has influenced styles. Texas has a lot Hispanic influence while Virginia has colonial influence. A common practice in Texas is to have the drywall corners rounded as opposed to sharp angles.

Textured walls are everywhere in Texas, but rarely done in Virginia. I forgot this when we were remodeling but luckily could stop them before they added the texture to my new kitchen walls!

Another major player in the different styles is obviously Mother Nature. Where main levels in Virginia have mostly wood floors throughout, in Texas you often find tile and natural stone to help keep the house cool.

I am enjoying the differences and learning more about the local styles and installation techniques from both states. I am sure this will help bring fresh new ideas to future designs.

Does Your Entryway Make the Best First Impression?

Your entryway is the first impression of your home’s interior. It is the first thing that guests see and it sets their overall impression.

Take a look at the before and after photos above from one of my recent residential interior design projects. The project revamped the main level, including the foyer. We didn’t change how the space is used, but we completely changed the look.

With a built-in bench with shoe storage, millwork, and hooks for their belongings, the entryway is now a cleaner and more organized space. The entryway now gives the impression of an upgraded home.

This was an investment that is likely to pay them back when they sell the home in a few years. The upgraded entryway creates a positive first impression for potential buyers.

If you can’t do an all-in makeover, invest in a couple of small projects that upgrade your home’s interior. It will help the value of your home and definitely bring happiness to you.

When Paint Makes the Room

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Sometimes its the little things that make a big impact. I just heard from this client that the paint colors I recommended to finish off this room a year ago are complete and she is thrilled!

Working with this client has been a family affair. First this client’s husband and dad gifted an interior design design consult to her mom.

Her parents had just moved to Round Hill, Virginia to be closer to them and had a lot of artwork they didn’t know where to hang because all the pieces were bought specifically for the layout of their old house. I did the consult and they hung the pics where I suggested.

Fast forward a a year or so, and her dad again purchased a paint consult for his wife’s birthday. Again we got the results they wanted.

That same year they purchased one for my client, who just had moved to Lovettsville, Virginia. I helped them with the arrangement of the items in the room and recommended plaint colors, It took them almost a year, but her husband finally painted the colors!

The His and Hers Bathroom

This master bath…yikes! When you first walked in, no…as soon as you opened the door, BEFORE you even entered…your eyes saw nothing but this immensely over-sized raised and sunken and jetted bathtub!

It had 4 12”x12” columns and 12” surround and 22” high. You had to climb up 2 steps just to step down into the sunken tub.

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Original set up of the master bathroom.

It was supposed to be grandeur, but it wasn’t.

After your initial shock from the giant bathtub that sat 3’ from the entry, you will notice, builder grade his and her granite vanities flanking the bathtub on opposite sides of the room.

Hidden behind the giant bathtub, was an open half-circle shower. This was tiled in 3” square natural stone from shower floor and up the wall 7’ high. It didn’t have a door, or a curtain, thus being an open shower.

It also had 2 shower heads that sprayed further than the “invisible” door. The tile stopped inside the shower, so the walls that were just on the outside of the shower were just drywall.

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The original open half-circle shower has problems with design and function.

Did I also mention that the shower sprayed further than the shower? Even when it didn’t, our movement caused splashing outside the shower. So it was no surprise to us when our home inspector said the baseboard was rotten and needed replacement.

This master bath was in my house. I came up with the design for the bath before we moved into the house while we were still in Virginia. The design came to me as most of my other ideas do, it just pops in my head, after hours of  contemplation.

I start staring at the space, well, technically, at the picture(s). I keep in mind the needs and wants and budget of the client, in this case myself and my husband. I also kept in mind that this isn’t our forever home and will want to have a good return on it in a couple of years. I imagine a blank slate pretty much.

I know I am keeping the vanity cabinets but exchanging the tops. I know a stand alone tub needs to have a place. I know the shower needs doors. I think about the rest of the house, and the style it is and more importantly, the styles it isn’t.

After draft after draft in my head, I doodle on my white board. I love doodling designs on my white board! It’s a creative process that makes me happy!

The issue I was having is the big giant space that the big giant tub left behind. If I placed a soaking tub, which most average 30”x 69-72”, in the big giant space that the big giant tub left, then it would feel like an afterthought, not to mention no sense of real privacy.

I could put the average size soaking tub where the shower is, but then I would have to move the shower to the center build a 4 walls of glass, or 4 walls of something. I’d need to figure out how to be fancy and have the shower head come from the ceiling, which will mean moving plumbing.

One design decision always affects another decision and that decision will affect another decision. I scratched that idea quickly. Plus my tub would have felt squished to me.

So back again to the big giant space for the now normal size tub. Literally, I went back to the drawing board.

I knew I wanted my average size soaking tub to be next to a bubble tile wall. I had seen a bubble tile many years ago and had always wanted to incorporate it some how, but my husband wasn’t so keen on the bubble look. So now I can see my average size soaking tub next to my bubble wall, with a stand alone faucet.

But I don’t have a wall to put my bubble tile and average size soaking tub unless I build one. Oh, and there goes the floodgates. Now I have floating wall in the middle where the big giant space is that was left from removing the big giant tub. One side will have bubbles for me, and the other side will have bricks for him.

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Her side features a bubble tile wall and an average size soaking tub.

As I was shopping for shower tile, I found reclaimed wood mosaic. THAT WAS IT! My husband’s side of the floating wall in the big giant space left from that big giant tub will have this gorgeous reclaimed wood mosaic!

Against his wall he will have a white bench, a couple of hooks, a shelf and a mirror. A nod to a gentleman’s locker room. His closet is next to his vanity, so everything for him will be right there on HIS side.

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His side of the bathroom features a reclaimed wood mosaic wall and finishes that are a nod to a gentleman’s locker room.

The dilemma for the shower, was if we had one door in the middle, it would run into the floating wall. If we scooted it down to one side or the other, then the other would have an awkward entry and exit.

If I put a sliding door, again, the other person would have an awkward exit. Wait, what if I had 2 doors? Each one opening from the proper side. I spoke with the glass shower man and he said he could do that! So we did that!

The vanities evolved from being white quartz to custom made-in-place cement tops. The bling(s) i.e., lights, faucets,floors etc. fell into place once the floor plan was decided.

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The new vanities feature custom made-in-place cement tops.

What was the point of this blog post? LOL, I guess to show that it takes a while for a design to come about to it’s final form. Not only is there a long thought process for the look, but plenty of math for measuring spaces and forms, to order the right amount of tile without too much overage, to calculate how much light will project from the ceiling lamp and for budgeting.

Many hours of research to find the right pieces that come in within your time frame, and within budget. Then hopefully the contractor will tell you all your design plans are feasible and we don’t have to compromise on anything.

Then we can begin.

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Witnessing the Amazing People of Houston

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The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in and around Houston, Texas is unbelievable. And, it’s right in my backyard.

Since I was driving, I couldn’t take a lot of pictures of the affected neighborhoods, but the devastation is just incredible. In one of these pictures you’ll notice the letter C in red painted on the house. It’s notify rescuers that the house is CLEAR of people. If there were people inside it would have a let H for HOME.

The people in one neighbourhood I visited are just starting to return because there was still water in their house 10 days after the storm blew through.

Many families have endured a lot, but everyone I spoke still had a sense of humor. Conversations often included quips and bad puns. Funny and not funny.

They teared up when they spoke with passion about their neighbors and families. They were tired but were finding the energy to keep going. They are strong.

They are determined to bring their neighbourhood back again. Most dream of making it even better. Each one talked of a silver lining. I was blessed by witnessing their strength and determination and outlook.

I have been amazed by the generosity of people near and far, strangers that supported each other in time of need. With Irma and Maria, I’m almost certain we will see more unification and less division. We will work together toward the same goal, putting aside differences. I haven’t been here in Texas long, but I want to sincerely say thank you to everyone that has helped.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt. 

Before and After: Making a Kitchen Functional and Attractive

When I walked into this kitchen for the first time, I didn’t hate it. It seemed pretty spacious, with many cabinets and a good amount of counterspace.

The problems with this kitchen really became apparent with use. First, there was the matter of the cooktop on the island. When using the cooktop, you would get what I can only describe as a fun house effect.

The dining room was enclosed with a regular hinged door as entry from the kitchen. On the other side of the dining room was an eat-in kitchen that had large floor-to-ceiling windows and a skylight.  Standing at the cooktop, one eye saw the eat-in kitchen was spacious and the other eye would see a wall that was only 3 feet away. The visual effect literally made me feel nauseous because my depth perception was being played upon!

My interior design plan to fix this unpleasant effect was to opened up the walls and move the cooktop about a foot to the left. It is now centered with the sink and the floor-to-ceiling windows. No more fun house effect!

The refrigerator was also problematic. It was at the end of the kitchen and the door was partially blocked by the island! Who would put a fridge somewhere where you can’t open it?

The refrigerator was nestled in the end counter, with upper cabinets next to it. To get more space in the kitchen and be kind to the budget, I moved the refrigerator to the other side of the kitchen. A peninsula was used instead of an island, which provided plenty of counter space.

I also worked to streamline the wall where the fridge was located. I replaced the regular hinged door that led to the laundry, pantry, bonus room, and garage with a swing door for easy mobility.

Some upper cabinets were removed and I designed cabinets that recess into the laundry room. The cabinets float on top of the washer and dryer and are accessible from both the kitchen side and laundry side. The cabinets look more like a wall than cabinets and match the cabinetry in the eat-in kitchen.

Robbing Space

This kitchen has been robbed! It’s been robbed of space.

Look carefully at the first picture. There is a patio door which swings inward towards the seating area. The wall juts out about 3″, then has a brick fireplace surround that again juts out about 4-6″, if you measure at the mantle. Thennnnnn, the hearth, which not only juts out even further about 11″ but is also about 8″ high. That’s a total of 19″ that is coming out to meet the door that swings towards it.

On the other side, you can see a beautiful large island maybe 3′ away caddy corner from the door, but only about 1′ away from the door’s walking path. With the stools, however, you’re right on the walking path of people coming in and out. Every finish is coming towards each other like a perfect storm.

Now imagine, having a table there with the brick fireplace, while entertaining your family and friends with a cookout. Can you imagine the flow of traffic? You’ll also be limited at the size and shape of the kitchen table.

However, just by removing the bricks and using a flat surround and lowering the hearth so that it’s flushed to the floor, you gain that 19″ back and then some. You ‘re now able to move your larger kitchen table closer to the fireplace.

Replacing the single hinge door with a sliding door would also give a better flow for traffic. Even just reversing the swing of the door would be helpful.

Sometimes it’s not the square footage or the furniture that makes a room feel crowded. It could be the way the space was designed. And the resolution could be as simple as reversing a door.

april circle before fireplaceapril circle after fireplace with colton