Typically we concentrate on the commercial end of things since that’s our daily focus, but for the holidays this year we’re getting a little more personal. Several of our interior designers share a few of their favorite things when it comes to holiday décor. Hopefully some of the concept images, personal photos and trends that have inspired us will provide new ideas to help make your home or business festive and inviting.
With the advent of cell phones, smart watches and other similar technologies, the fundamental need for clocks to guide the patterns of our days has surely diminished. However, that does not mean they have become obsolete for residential or commercial interiors. In fact, clocks are enjoying a design resurgence with an emphasis on style and variety making them a valuable design tool for a wide range of settings.
As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have been steadily increasing, the demand for specialized settings is likewise on the rise. There is also a growing movement to empower our towns and cities to better support those with dementia, so they can choose to remain in their personal homes and fully engage with others (not just others with dementia) for as long as possible. In either scenario, we believe careful and respectful design strategies can function as a silent “enabler” to support dignity, personal expression and independence to the greatest extent possible.
The word hospitality traces its origin back to the Latin words hostis, which means stranger or enemy, and the more positive hospitem, which means guest or host. The English terms hospital, host, hostel, hotel and hospitality all come from these same roots. Interestingly the first hospitality venues were hospitals, which in their initial inception provided lodging and entertainment for pilgrims traveling to religious shrines. This eventually led to our current concept of hospitality which encompasses friendly reception and generous treatment of guests or strangers.
We take many of our design cues for a wide range of senior living, healthcare, educational and other commercial spaces from today’s hospitality venues, the best of which set the standards for brand identity, style and guest comfort and enjoyment. The following hospitality trends are examples of contemporary interior design techniques and finishes that will add visual interest, subtle sophistication and personality to a wide range of settings.
We have to admit, one of our pet peeves as commercial interior designers is working with a client to incorporate beautiful custom millwork or casework shelving into their project, only to visit the site months later to find that the shelves are empty. This is a missed opportunity to create a positive first impression, add visual interest, reinforce your brand, and ultimately define the personality of your space.
This type of accessorizing, to add the finishing touches and pull everything together, is a service RLPS Interiors offers, but sometimes clients opt to handle this in-house. We understand that it can be difficult to know where to start, so we’ve pulled together a few guidelines that apply to both commercial and residential spaces.
Most Seinfeld fans can remember George Costanza’s father randomly shouting “serenity now” in an effort to achieve calm in the chaotic world of the Costanza family. However, he may have been able to achieve the same effect by simply eliminating some of the clutter in his home.
Drawing from Japanese design principles, minimalism exemplifies the concept of “less is more.” Simplicity, openness, and often symmetry are some of this disciplined style’s guiding principles. And while the removal of non-essential elements is key, the end goal is not to create stark or sterile spaces. Instead, a minimalist approach to design helps draws attention to outside views, architectural features, key furnishings or striking artwork. The following are a few minimalist design tips to help create peaceful, appealing spaces by reducing visual distractions and interior clutter.
Artwork is the “icing on the cake” for interior spaces. It can serve as the inspiration that defines your design style or the finishing touch that pulls everything together. Selecting the right artwork is particularly important for commercial applications to reinforce your brand, strengthen local connections and ultimately create a positive experience.
Nature Rules! Since we’ve been involved in a number of senior care and healthcare settings, we have a particular respect for the positive impacts nature artwork can provide. In the book, Putting Patients First, Roger Ulrich and Laura Gilpin recommend artwork for healthcare settings that depicts landscapes, tranquil water, calm weather and warmer seasons. A number of studies by Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC, and others have documented not only a preference for nature scenes among hospital patients, students and office workers, but also positive outcomes such as reduced stress, lessened anger/aggression and improved well-being. And the inverse is also true, abstract artwork is the least liked among people of all ages and has been shown to stimulate negative emotions.
Adding a bit of sparkle should not be limited to the holidays. The dark and dull days of winter are a great time to consider adding some bling to your interiors. Shiny, reflective, sparkly or shimmery elements can transform a bland or dated space into an exciting and unique environment. Reflective metals, colored glass and shimmery window treatments can add life to interior spaces every day of the year.
For some people, the mere mention of bling conjures images of Liberace and over-the-top theatrical ornamentation. While it is true that a little bit of bling goes a long way, it’s equally true that sparkling and reflective elements offer sophisticated brilliance when used appropriately. Here are some considerations for reinventing a “ho-hum” space by adding bling in a way that expresses your personality and style.
- A great start is adding a few shiny or glowing accessories. Some easy and relatively inexpensive options include replacing old cabinet knobs with glass, mirrored or crystal alternatives, hanging a sparkling, gem-encrusted mirror on a blank wall or simply adding some new throw pillows with metallic threads or colored gemstone detailing.
- Brass is slowly making its way back into the modern design realm – however it’s resurfacing in new forms such as aged bronze or antique brass. To avoid a dated look, we recommend limiting shinier versions of this metal to accessories, decorative lighting elements, mirror frames or curtain rods which typically reflect a new interpretation of the vintage gold look.
- Opportunities for incorporating bling also extend to window treatments where metallic threads are sometimes woven into the fabric or colored gems and metallic studs are added as decorative elements. Introducing a bit of bling is a great option for adding an unexpected, noteworthy element to an otherwise traditional, tailored application. Accessories that sparkle and shine can also be used with tiebacks or as decorative studs on a window valence or the headboard for a bed.
- The recent prevalence of grays in interior design (see our earlier blog) has corresponded with a myriad of new metallic variations of the palette for light fixtures, kitchen backsplashes, decorative accessories and even furniture. Nickel gray provides a chic, neutral look, while attention-grabbing silver supplies more sparkle. You can even mix the types of metals you use to add depth and visual appeal for a variety of design styles and color palettes. Metallic elements can blend seamlessly with natural materials like wood and weathered brick or equally well with sleek, contemporary elements like glass and polished stone.
Bringing on the bling, even if you start with just one item, will help create the “wow” factor for your space. Just keep in mind that these shiny, sparkly attention-getters should be carefully selected to complement and enhance your individual design style. Always start with a foundation of classic pieces and then mix in a few statement items. Limit particularly “trendy” pieces to features that can be changed out fairly easily and inexpensively.
Charlotte Stoudt, IIDA, LEED AP, has 16 years of experience as a commercial interior designer. She believes that a bit of bling helps to create a lasting impression in the spaces she designs. You can see some of her latest inspirations, like those below, on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/fitnessndesign/.
The center of attention and activity, the Christmas tree embodies the unique combination of nostalgia, good will and hope associated with the holidays. Many of the same ideas that apply to decorating your home are also important to keep in mind for a beautiful tree that expresses your style while fostering holiday spirit for everyone who sees it.
Let there be light
Let your tree truly shine by getting this up-front detail right. The lights are the first thing that should go on your tree – then the garland and finally the ornaments. While there is some debate whether it’s better to start from the top or the bottom of the tree, the most important factor is to make sure you add enough lights to make the tree—and ultimately your ornaments—sparkle. According to Better Homes & Gardens’ website, a general rule of thumb is 100 lights for every foot and a half tree. And depending on the fullness of your tree, double or even triple that amount might be appropriate. When hanging the lights, it’s a good idea to step away and look back at the tree from time to time to make sure they are spaced evenly and that the tree is glowing. Gently push light strands into the branches a bit so the lights can do their job without becoming the center of attention. With the advent of energy-efficient LED lighting, the variety of colors, bulb shapes and sizes has expanded exponentially. Avoid flashing and color changing lights, and stick to a color, shape and size that works with your overall design theme. For example, updated versions of the C7 bulbs many of us grew up with are now readily available to provide a nostalgic twist. Smaller, white or off-white lights are always a safe choice, especially if you want to vary your theme from year to year.
Create a theme
Creating a theme does not mean all your ornaments must match. Just like decorating a room, your tree will look its best with a deliberate effort to limit items to those that complement one another. If there are traditional “must haves” on the tree, structure your theme around those favorites. And if you have too many favorites to narrow down to a cohesive theme, consider varying your theme from year to year. And keep in mind that your tree will truly look its best if your color scheme and design style are consistent with the area where the tree is located.
Your theme can be a unifying color scheme, a design style or simply highlighting a collection of ornaments—whether angels, snowflakes, animals or even sports-themed items. For a traditional theme, focus on simple ornaments, understated garlands and classic reds and greens. Using color combinations like violet and bronze or ice blue and silver work well for a more contemporary aesthetic. For maximum impact, consider limiting your palette to white and silver decorations, shades of red or some another unified combination. However, if a minimalist approach is definitely not your style, you can also use a single color—silver or gold are good options – for base ornaments and garlands to serve as a backdrop that helps tie together a mix of colors and unique ornaments.
Just like when decorating a room, it’s the final touches that can make the difference between mediocre and magical. The first step in creating the “wow” factor is making sure you have enough ornaments. A variety of textures, shapes and scales is also important. Don’t be afraid to mix in some larger items, particularly for basic “filler” ornaments. Not only will these larger ornaments add interest and depth, they can also help reinforce your theme. Also avoid the temptation to hang all ornaments on the tips of the branches. Be sure to place some closer to the trunk to once again add depth and interest. Finally, no matter what your theme is, be sure to include some unique items that have special meaning to you and express your personality. Mix these distinctive ornaments between your thematic elements for a beautiful result that is unique to your holiday celebration.
Derek Perini is a senior designer who has been with RLPS Interiors for 18 years. Take a look at our Facebook page in upcoming weeks to see sample photos of the holiday décor by our interior design group on display at our offices and at several local healthcare facilities.