Great design starts with balance…1.2.

This is the third in a series of posts about how to achieve balance in design. You’ve approached or been inside buildings that just don’t seem right. Perhaps it’s the proportions, or the colors, or the furnishings. Some times it’s easy to determine while other times it’s subtly awkward and you can’t quite pin point the issue.

Balance is an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. Balance is equilibrium. Imagine a tall stack of books with small thin books at the base and thick coffee table art books at the top. It’s easy to see the imbalance and imagine it toppling over. Yet balance in architecture and interior design requires expertise to achieve.

In large scale 3-dimensional objects, imbalance can creep in quickly. Follow classic traditional design and proportions and achieving harmonious and satisfying spaces is much more likely. Modern, informal design lends itself to freedom that can easily throw things off kilter. Yet this doesn’t mean that balance can’t be achieved without symmetry. It can and that’s often the tricky part. I see it on a daily basis and want to start with simple examples and build from there. And frankly, this is another of my pet peeves that’s very easy to remedy, so let’s move inside today and orchestrate the details.

Let’s be honest, just one decision can throw an entire room off balance. You’re right, it’s not the end of the world or cause for losing sleep! And as you’ll see in the following examples, your spaces will likely still be gorgeous. However, when you’re actually thinking about these things and planning or rearranging, keep these ideas in mind.

Start with a focal point. What do you want to be the center of the space’s attention? For you it may be a fireplace or a painting or the seating area where you’ll gather with family. For your friends it may be their collectibles or the dining table with seating for best friends.  In this inviting dining room, there’s so much to love. Yet personal photos, vibrant art, a delicious lemon yellow buffet, and cut velvet upholstery just can’t compete with the burnt orange light pendant. Like an overbearing guest, it’s just a bit too much! Even lowering the pendant closer to the table will make it welcome at this dinner party.

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Ground the space with weight or color. What a bright and dreamy kitchen, right? From the graphic black and white wall covering, to the industrial pipe and slab wood table, a stove to envy, and the vintage chandelier, it’s perfection…almost. I can’t even take my eyes off of the elephant range hood in the room! Perhaps a light grey wash would make it more friendly. Then those ebony Tolix Marais chairs can command the room.
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Choose your center of attention wisely. What an interesting living space with texture on the walls and in the fabric. Mid-century modern furniture always makes me swoon and a teal velvet chair seals the deal. Unfortunately the black painted brick wall steals the show. Painting the brick to match the wall color will give it a supporting role and  make the other elements shine.

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Keep it light up top. What a luxurious calm sleeping area. Muted tones, herringbone floors, and plush linens are all you really need with day light flooding the room. But wait, what’s that over the bed? A large animal is probably not what you want looming over you while you sleep. Just moving the trophy down and away from the bed will give you sweet dreams.

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Enjoy these beautifully balanced rooms. Take note that you can achieve harmony without symmetry!

Fun and inviting, this dining room is rich in color, pattern, and texture. Can’t you imagine enjoying a meal there with friends?

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irastar galvanized kitchen

That lush view of nature takes center stage, though I’m certain that at night the monochromatic kitchen gives a warm glow. It’s perfectly balanced with the weight on the lower portion of the room. And even the ceiling is painted a soft sky blue.

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With a mix of vintage, new, and reimagined, my client’s living room is colorful, personal, and warm. Her antique glass-topped tables keep the space light and functional.white space

attic bedroom

The architecture of this attic bedroom is very dramatic and requires little extra, save pops of color, to make the room send you off to dreamland. Deep blue linens balance the exclamation point of the antique table. And a pale lime green Bertoia Diamond chair is sublime.

Isn’t it remarkable how small decisions can have such a profound effect? Good design starts with prioritizing what’s important and keeping that in mind throughout the process to create harmony and balance. Read the first in this balance series then be sure to follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Birds do it… .

I spend an enormous amount of time pondering, researching, and implementing methods to make the buildings that we occupy beautiful and beneficial. It’s been my passion and the work of my adult life. Everyone wants to live and work in beautiful spaces, though to many it feels like an enormous challenge that’s not worth the effort. So I’m always thrilled when I find research that proves the power of nature, even if it’s not for humans, but our feathered friends. It is worth it and even small things make a difference.

Recently I came across an article describing how birds build their nests out of beneficial materials. These specifically selected natural materials boost growth and survival rates while they ward off pests and diseases. Starlings use aromatic plants, such as yarrow, whose substances build up the chicks’ immune systems while lowering their bacteria. Eagles use insect repelling plants, such as pine boughs, to build their nests, which lessen parasites and increase the number of eagles that fledge.

A starling gathering nesting materials. Photo © hedera.baltica / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

A starling gathering nesting materials. Photo © hedera.baltica / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

Now back to us humans! It certainly correlates that if we build our own nests homes out of beneficial natural materials, wouldn’t we be healthier? And as one of the lucky creatures able to feel joy, wouldn’t we be happier as well? To that goal, I give you my top 3 beauties with benefits that will clean your air, reduce toxins, balance humidity, and they’re pretty.

1…It is worth repeating! Start with plants, just one, then one in every room! Most of us aren’t planning to build a new home from scratch or undertake major remodeling. But all of us can afford a living, breathing, green plant. The psychological benefits of them directly connecting us to nature are undisputed. And all this is done while they filter the air. In fact, NASA did a study to determine which plants do the best job of removing indoor air pollutants in confined spaces, like say, a space station. Here’s a photographic summary of the plants NASA studied. There is a plant for every person on the planet, regardless of gardening ability or time. Click to choose yours from my top 5 easy to grow plants.

Blatant self promotion of my partner business, Global Gardens!

Blatant self promotion of my partner business, Global Gardens!

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2…It’s summer here in Michigan though that shouldn’t keep us away from wool. The structure of wool fibers is remarkable. Because of its insulating kinky fibers that trap air, wool feels cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That crazy quirky fiber also moderates moisture and balances the humidity of a space. It cleans the air by absorbing contaminants and binding them, forever, within its structure so you’ll never know they were there. And, yes, there’s more, it’s easy to clean because its scaly structure doesn’t allow soil and grime to penetrate!

Canopy wool rug by Angela Adams...swoon!

Canopy wool rug by Angela Adams…swoon!

white space3…Clay paint naturally cleans the air. It balances the overload of equipment (you know tablets, phones, TVs, laptops) through negative ions, just like those that are abundant in nature.  Pierce J. Howard, Ph.D., states that “negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain, resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy. They may also protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.”  Oh, and the static resistance of clay paint reduces the build-up of dust and allergens. Hmmmm, less house cleaning?

An artist’s studio enveloped in rich clay paint and designed by me!

white spaceWhen you’re making choices for your own nest, follow our feathered friends and go with nature. After all, birds do it…      For more beauties with benefits, follow my blog, twitter, and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Buh Bye, Drywall…Hello, Wood!

Drywall, also known in the building industry as gypsum board, is used extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In the early 1900s, drywall began to gain ground over the use of plaster walls. The installation of drywall saves time and money on product and labor.  The gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of paper, does have inherent fire resistant properties. These properties and its sound absorbing abilities can be increased by layering or different facings.  Combine these qualities with drywall’s easy acceptance of any finish from paint to wall covering and it’s become the standard wall material in the United States. I must say, I appreciate the ability to dramatically change a room just by splashing on a fabulous new paint color.  But wait, there are so many wonderful alternatives waiting to be discovered and used. Let’s start with wood, reclaimed, repurposed, laser cut, and even woven!

Bruag plywoodThese laser cut plywood panels, backed with color, make a powerful statement with energy, interest, and visual privacy.

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Plyboo durapalm

Woven panels made from reclaimed plantation grown sugar and coconut palm trees are curvaceous and lush. If that’s not enough, the screen they create can provide visual and acoustical disconnection.

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Antoni Associates

With just a little creativity, stock lumber creates a remarkably vibrant almost kinetic sculptural wall.

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Woven wall diyadventuresdotcom

Lean ribbons of rich dark wood weave through copper pipes to elevate them both for a partition with true texture and personality. Click for the DIY instructions.

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expozodotcom perforated panel bedroom

Giving new life to sun shade and separation, this open laser cut panel adds vitality and sophistication to a sleeping suite.

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bookshelf-as-room-divider

Display and storage are fantastic partners and allow light to penetrate in to an interior space while softly splitting room functions.

I’ll be sharing many more exciting wall options so follow my blog and Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration. Check out my favorite exterior wall materials as well. It’s your turn to empower your life with exhilarating design.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 3

Much like people make first impressions, so do our offices.  And these impressions are indelible whether fantastic, frightful, or worst of all, boring! Start today with the third step of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

3. Make your office comfortable and clean. This sounds like a no-brainer, yet I’m so often shocked by the condition of offices, as shown in this photo I snapped recently. Whether your office is a space for clients or only for colleagues, it must make them feel welcome and at ease.IMG_6706

In reception and guest areas, use the vacuum and dust daily. You may not be able to install new flooring, though keeping it clean shows that you are trying to maintain it and a sense of respect for your guests and where you will receive them. A drop of organization goes a long way here too. Hide the cords, remove the empty accordion file, store loose files in drawers.

Of course these guidelines go for employee areas as well. Your employees and colleagues will perform better in an environment where they can focus on their goals, instead of dusting their work space. Don’t have the budget for a cleaning crew? I’ve washed windows, cleaned the bathroom, and used the vacuum, mop, and Swiffer many times at my business. In fact, it was our every day early morning routine. Start tomorrow, keep it up every day, and it will never overwhelm.

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Comfort is key when providing for your guests and employees. Your clients may come from a wide range of backgrounds yet your core group of clients have things in common. Provide for them in ways that also represent your company’s personality. For example, if you’re a produce wholesaler, your office interior design should reflect the vibrancy and freshness of your product and the vigorous pace of your business. In this office design shown above, I created a spirited and stable design for the young owners of a fast growing company that provides internet security for financial institutions. That’s a very serious and high-tech business yet the owners wanted to express their personality and the love of their work through color and contemporary style. Pops of vibrant color balance the stable blues, black, and grey tones. If guests must wait, they have seating choices and surfaces for their coffee or to work.

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This office that I designed from a former dark-room provides every amenity to make you, your employees and colleagues, and your guests thrive. Lighting, from outside and overhead task lighting, makes working easy at any time of day. Hidden shades let you control daylight or gain privacy at the touch of a switch. Individual temperature controls easily adjust to your preferences with air conditioning, forced air heating, and even radiant heat warming the cork floor. Combine all of these with the balance of warm colors and acoustical privacy to create an empowering office.

So you see it’s easy to impress your clients and empower your employees with a few steps that will ultimately increase your business’ bottom line. Start today by looking at your office as though it’s your first time there. Be sure to read Step 1, Step 2, and share with your colleagues. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Design for Yourself…Now!

Okay, I’ve been away for a long time and I’m excited to be back and discuss one of my favorite topics – designing for yourself!  Recently my hair stylist told me that she and her family decided not to sell their home. They purchased it 14 years ago and planned to stay there five years. Most importantly she shared how free she felt that she could at long last customize and decorate her home for her family! I could see the joy and relief in her eyes.

You see we’d discussed this on many occasions! She lamented using lifeless neutral tones so that, she believed, she could easily sell her home.

beige beige and more beige

You’ve seen the typical new spec home colors…boring!

I suggested that no matter the future mystery buyer’s taste, they would begin to personalize it the minute they got the keys. And I recommended that her family’s needs and wishes and tastes should drive their choices. Unknown future buyers must not stifle her home design on the interior or the exterior, rendering it unsatisfying for 14 years!

My hair stylist attributes the delight in her newly grasped home design freedom to my repetitive urging and proclaiming the glorious benefits of surrounding yourself with your very own definition of beauty. Wrap yourself and your family in the colors, materials, and furnishings that fill you with joy. The energy imparted from the things that you appreciate fills your surroundings and you with vitality.

So go ahead and cover your home with the colors that you love. Start small as color is powerful and adjusting to the drastic positive changes can be overwhelming. I’ve seen it happen with clients who believe the new color isn’t just right. But it’s really just that sometimes we’re not ready for the dynamic transformation that color brings. Give yourself time to appreciate your new surroundings and to finalize the details of a space to make it harmonious.

Okay, let’s get started! First determine the mood you want to create. Then find colors that impart the feeling you desire – calm, nurturing, energizing, cozy, creative, happy.

ImaginEco nature color inspiration cherry blossom

Nature has an endless source of colorful inspiration…go outside!

For inspiration look to nature, a favorite art piece, or browse the myriad of online color resources. Check out one of my very favorite Design Seeds.

Now test your chosen colors with art, fabrics, accessories – items that won’t break the bank. When you’ve tested and proven your color prowess, select your paint colors to tie every thing together and reflect the mood you want to achieve. Your paint for the walls and ceilings will unify the elements in your room, either new or remaining. Be fearless and follow your instincts. Avoid asking friends and relatives as they’re certain to disagree and bring their own taste to the discussion. This is your home or office and they’re sure to love it when they see how it has empowered you.

ImaginEco colorful city home

In this home my client wished for a cheerful room. She’s delighted with the sunny results.

ImaginEco artist studio 1

Fearless color dramatizes her paintings and energizes my artist client in her studio.

ImaginEco office color

Even offices can have subtle yet energizing color! Say buh bye to beige cubicles.

Good luck and remember to follow your instincts! Your home should make you feel as good as your favorite outfit does. Now share this so your friends can be fearless too.  For more tips and inspiration Like ImaginEco on facebook.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 2

Much like people make first impressions, so do our offices.  And these impressions are indelible whether fantastic, frightful, or worst of all, boring! Start today with the second step of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

2. Make your office current. If your office is stuck in a time warp of yesterday, how can you fill a clients’ needs today?  To be the best you have to be on top of the latest in technology and the most effective and efficient ways to take care of your clients.

magazines

You’ve been in that office where the magazines are yellowed with age, pages are torn out, and dog eared.  Frankly, I lose all confidence in a business that overlooks details, especially ones that are easy to remedy. Recycle those old mags and subscribe to a few new ones with diverse topics.

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WaitingRoom

Ditch the award wall.  Your clients most likely are aware of your qualifications or they wouldn’t be in your office. Impress them by showing them the benefits of working with you. Display what you’ve done for your other clients with before and after photos and client testimonials. Kudos on the living healthy plants here….more on those below.

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Reception Desk

Stuffed toys and heart wreaths should be visible only to their owner, unless you’re business revolves around these things. The shining face of your receptionist should get all of the attention. Remove the clock. If your clients must wait, don’t force them to watch the clock.

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waiting room

The ominous TV is the focal point of the room and it’s placed at an awkward viewing height.  Replace it with a flat screen placed on the corner shelf. Not in your budget to replace the TV?  Then just remove it.

Just say no to silk, plastic, and any other type of artificial plants. A healthy living plant is a symbol of life.  Check out my super easy to grow list of plants here or hire a service to supply your office with plants and care for them as well.

If you have a magazine rack, it should be filled with valuable information you’ve created for your clients to take home and a variety of current and diverse magazines.

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family-care-waiting-room

Office overhauls are very expensive yet should be a regular part of a business’ budget. A fresh luminous coat of paint will give this tired space new life. Place a vibrant colorful nature photo behind each desk. Use photos that have bright tones of the dismal red and green such as lime and orange. Arrange the furniture in small circular groups instead of lined up like soldiers.

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MidCity Office Furniture

Who wouldn’t be impressed walking in to this office?  It’s fresh and bright and current and clean. The furnishings are minimal, cohesive, bold in color, and sophisticated in style. Of course day light is your best design tool and the healthy plants add a dash of drama and color.

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health design dot org

In this health care setting, day light plays a major role again. The fresh color palette exudes vitality and health. And the receptionist is standing and awaiting you.  See Step 1 for more the importance of that.

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skype office lobby

Potted living and flowering plant…check.  Open airy brightly lit fresh space…check. Modern stylish seating…check. Company info for browsing…check.  Screen for viewing valuable information…check.

So you see it’s easy to impress your clients with a few steps that will ultimately increase your business’ bottom line. Start today by looking at your office as though it’s your first time there. Be sure to read Step 1 and share with your colleagues. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration to empower your life.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise

Office Design to Increase Your Bottom Line – Step 1

Much like people make first impressions, so do our offices.  And these impressions are indelible whether fantastic, frightful, or worst of all, boring! Start today with the first of my top 3 ways to make your office as impressive as your business…also known as Increase Your Business’ Bottom Line.

1. Make your reception desk disappear. Immediately greet your guests by eliminating the barrier between them and the first human connection to your company. Of course desks are functional, yet imagine greeting a guest at your home from a behind a desk. Make the must-have desk minimal and place it so that your guests and clients are instantly greeted by a friendly face. The individual seated there should be aware that nothing is more important than the person stepping in to your office.

living social office

Awkward, and ironic!  You’ve been in an office where you feel uncomfortable immediately because there seems to be no one there to greet you. Lower the desk or at least a portion of it so there is easy eye contact.

elegant office source unknown

There’s no question that this office is elegant, sophisticated, and current. Yet imagine those chairs are filled and you have to run the gauntlet to reach the receptionist desk at the end. Hello down there!

modern office source unknown

Perfection!  A small approachable desk with a rolling chair where the receptionist could actually stand and greet your guests is ideal. I can imagine a lap top there that can quickly close when clients come in the door. The healthy plant is a nice touch that represents life and vitality.

Now test your office by entering the front door as if you’ve never been there. Then make the simple changes necessary to keep your clients, and even increase the number of clients, coming through your front door. Stay tuned for more easy ways to make your office as impressive as your business.  Use the tools below to share it on. Like ImaginEco on facebook for daily design tips and inspiration to empower your life.

Imagine the possibilities,

Denise