Interior Design and Laminate Flooring: A Guest Post from Rob Jones of BuildDirect

Today’s guest post is from Rob Jones, online marketer and chief blogger at BuildDirect, an online laminate flooring and other building materials company.  In this post, Rob outlines how laminate flooring is no longer looked upon as a short term flooring solution as it once was, and outlines five varieties of laminate flooring that add visual spark to all kinds of interiors.

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The functional advantages of laminate continue to endure.  For instance,

  • They’re relatively easy and fast to install, so with some experience with basic carpentry, you can install them yourself.
  • You can float them, which means they don’t need to be fastened to a subfloor like a solid hardwood floor does.
  • They are specifically designed to guard against abrasion, moisture, and the effects of subtle temperature changes that cause expansion and contraction, common to all wood floors or (in this case) wood floor derivatives.

Despite these practical advantages, laminate floors haven’t historically shared in the glory when it comes to a stylish floor. But, laminate flooring has come a long way in terms of stylish surfaces in a relatively short period of time.  Not only is it made to be durable for decades at a time, it also looks great – really great – in nearly every area of a residence or commercial space.  Where at one time laminate floors were perhaps something of a budgetary stopgap, the presence of a laminate floor is more and more common in spaces that just ooze pure style.

And here are some of the developments in recent years that make laminate a great choice to spruce up your interiors:

1. Embossed and Textured Laminate flooring

Subtlety and attention to detail are some of the finer points of good design.  Embossed and textured laminate is another step beyond earlier versions of laminate flooring, which were generally thinner, and with smooth, flat surfaces.  The texturing allows for a more wood-like surface that can be appreciated on a visual, as well as tactile level.

2. “Handscraped” laminate flooring

The name ‘handscraped’ doesn’t exactly apply since you can’t really scrape a laminate floor surface as you can a real wood floor.  Yet, that same distressed effect has been reproduced in the factory by means of an extrusion process to give you the elegant contouring of the boards you’ll find in a solid or engineered floor.

3. “Piano Finish” laminate flooring

To get that pristine, high sheen, reflective wood floor look, a piano finish laminate floor is the answer.

4. “Narrow-plank” laminate flooring

Replicating the look of old-world hardwood, narrow board laminate flooring is a variety that is keenly observed in rendering the look of authentic solid hardwood.

5. Beveled-edge laminate flooring

Another subtle, yet important, detail is the beveled edge style. A bevel edge is a style which demarcates the grooves between boards by means of an angled cut.  This gives visual dimension to the boards, making telling them apart from the real thing a tough job if you’re not a solid hardwood pro.

While there are a few things to know before you buy a laminate floor, this choice in an interior surface has evolved into a stylish alternative.  These five examples of visual effects in laminate flooring (and not mutually exclusive) are just a few stylistic options to consider when you’re shopping for flooring surfaces to transform your spaces.

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You can read more of Rob’s blog posts about wood flooring in the BuildDirect blog.  And be sure to follow Rob and BuildDirect on Twitter.

What to Bring? An Interior Designer visits Friends for a Beach Weekend

What do you give to the hostess with the mostess?  After all, he or she is your dear friend who has kindly offered you a respite from the heat of the city for the weekend.  You don’t want to arrive empty-handed.  Shorely Chic to the rescue.  It’s all about great beach interior design.

Bottle Hostess Gift Turquoise Gold Vintage Glass Shorely Chic Etsy

For your oh so sophisticated friend who is a little bit glam and a little bit traditional, check out this gorgeous vintage turquoise and gold bottle.

Shorely Chic Moroccan Coasters Drink Gift Hostess Decoupage Etsy

For your preppy but a bit cheeky and world-traveled friend, what could be better than decoupage coasters.  Drinks are on the house.

Shorely Chic Beach Candle Soy Etsy Hostess Gift StarfishYou just know that your Aunt Tilly already has everything and does not want you to spend your hard-earned money on a gift, but what will Mom say?  A Beach Candle is just the right touch in the perfect little keepsake box.

Shorely Chic Coral Starfish Wine Sack Gift Hostess Etsy

You can not go wrong with a bottle of wine in the perfect casual summer sack.  I am loving the starfish and the texture of this bag.  Now if you could just put a bottle of crisp light Pinot Grigio in there for me, we will be happy to grill you up some tuna steaks when we return from the beach.

Shorely Chic Lime Green Vase Ceramic Asian Etsy Hostess Gift

So you are saying to yourself, this last gift is a bit quirky.  Well, this is the one that I want, so if you come to visit, please keep it in mind.  I love the Asian traditional image in the bright funky lime green – so my interior design style!

All items from Shorely Chic are available on Etsy.

I met Liz Orgera on Twitter.  You can follow her too @shorelychic.  We live just a few towns apart and so have had the amazing opportunity of connecting IRL (in real life for those of you who are not social media savvy.  I can’t wait to see what Liz will come up with next!

Here’s Liz on her passion for beach design:  “I started Shorely Chic out of my love for interiors and admiration for the natural beauty of the beach.  I strongly believe that bringing the tranquil and peaceful elements of the beach indoors will improve your state of being. ”

I think she succeeds – how about you?

I love to hear from you.  What’s your idea of the perfect Hostess Gift?

Back into the Closet: A Fairfield Interior Design Client’s Shoe Dream Come True

Remember when I posted about the closet design process for my Fairfield client?  She was kind enough to send me some photos of the nearly finished product, which possibly makes her the best interior design client ever!

Closet Interior Design Organization Storage Ikea

My Fairfield client LOVES shoes.  Really…  We shopped and shopped and shopped for reasonably priced closets.  Not only did she shop with me, but I sent her out shopping with her husband!  I was determined that we  would find a great closet at the right value.  And at the end of the day, not only are these closets from Ikea amazing, her husband found her the awesome shoe rack that you can see at the bottom of the photo.  Now that is love.

Shoe Rack Closet Storage Ikea Interior Design

Here’s a detail of the shoe rack – I love how it pulls out.  I am all about functional design!

Shoes Interior Design Closet Ikea Storage Drawers Function

Surely, you didn’t think she was keeping just her workout clothes in those drawers, did you?  No, it’s more shoes!!!  Really, what’s not to love about shoes?

Man's Closet Storage Interior Design Storage Function

I have many wonderful male clients and so I would not want to upset them with all this talk of shoes and other ‘girly’ things.  So above is her husband’s closet – note same size closet ladies.  Now, apparently the gentleman only has three pairs of shoes, so there was no need to waste space on a special shoe rack.  In fact there is even room for the iron and ironing board, which brings up the question – who does the ironing?  I could not resist.

My husband has an ENTIRE tall cabinet of shoes, so I don’t get this at all. Not that I get why DH has more pairs of shoes than I do.  Just sayin’…

I love to hear from you.  What do you love about your closet?

Or do you look at yours and cringe?  If that’s the case please call me and I can get you started on a beautiful and functional system to store your shoes (dresses, slacks, shirts).

Fabulous Friday in Interior Design

I love this sink featured in the latest issue of Metropolis Magazine.

Betty Blue Alape Sink Bath AFNY

Betty Blue by Alape

This sink is fresh, crisp and clean – all the things I want to feel in my bathroom!  The design is simple elegance.

Betty Blue Alape Top View matandme.net

Betty Blue by Alape Top View

The water lands on the nearly flat surface and disperses down the sides.  It reminds me of the infinity edge pools – dreamy.  Who knew water (in a bathroom sink) could be so beautiful?

I love to hear from you.  What’s your favorite sink?

Five Interior Design Tips for Making Your Foyer More Welcoming

How do you feel when you enter your home?  Is it relaxing and inviting?  A little bit elegant and understated?  Is it dark and dramatic offering a glimpse of Gatsbyesque cocktail parties?  Or is it more practical to suit the dog and the kids?  Did you do it yourself or have the help of an interior designer?

Entries and foyers are all about first impressions, a chance to glimpse the homeowner’s unique style and taste, an anticipation of what lies beyond.  They are a great place to make a wow statement while harmonizing with the rest of your home’s interior design.

1.  First you must consider Function. Where will you put your keys and the mail?  A lovely console can solve this problem.  Do you or your guests need a spot to sit while taking off their boots?  Be sure to add an unusual chair or bench.  Ideally, your Foyer will have a closet for hanging your guests’ coats.  Of course an umbrella stand is always a great addition.  If you are fortunate enough to have a mud room, you can skip the spot for the boots and just focus on making your entryway a dynamic reflection of you.

Kristen Hutchins

I love how this interior designer incorporated a bowl for keys, a mirror to check your lipstick, a lamp for that much-needed light and ottomans that can be pulled out to put on your shoes.  This is a great use of a small space and also warm and inviting.  I want to have coffee with the person who lives here – don’t you?

2.  Make it wow with color or pattern.  A bright paint or wallpaper with amazing texture can show off your fun side.  Entryways tend to be small and can be little jewel box statements.  You can get much more creative and daring in your Foyer.

from Southern Living

I love the black chest for storage against the metallic patterned wallpaper and how the shape of the mirror and the front of the chest pick up on the repeating image in the wallpaper.

David Jimenez

More amazing trellis wallpaper but done a whole different way.  I love the cheeky bright yellow stools under the sleek mirrored console table.  This could be a busy look, but the interior designer has paired the lamps and the stools to give it a sense of harmony and timelessness.

3. Display an amazing piece of artwork or collection. Or if your space is narrow and you want to open it up, add a large mirror.  Not only will it widen the room, it will help reflect the light.  Always add a beautiful vase of fresh-cut flowers – they smell wonderful, add a fresh element to the room and are a great way to get a splash of color.

Avery Design Interiors

This is the Foyer in my own home, which is a center hall colonial.  I picked up the beautiful Chinese painting of cherry blossoms in my travels through Shanghai.  The collection of wood carvings were my Great Aunt Mabel’s.  She was an avid traveler and collector – surely it runs through my blood.  If you look closely you can tell that the wood carvings are from various church pews and doors. They are so unique.  I love my antique altar table underneath.

Yes, we do have a mud room so my Foyer is all about the relaxed elegance look I favor.  I will say that if I could do it all over again, I would buy a home that could be more contemporary.  But I believe that your furnishings should complement the architecture of your home, as well as highlight your unique personality.  I am in the process of adding an occasional objet d’art or the perfect modern lucite table to freshen the vibe in my home.

4. Make sure you have great lighting. A combination of overhead, accent lighting for that fantastic painting or sculpture, as well as even a lamp on a console is best.   It’s so important to have lighting for the stairs and any dark corners in your hallways.

Kelly Hoppen

I love how Kelly Hoppen has used practical lighting along the floor to such dramatic effect.  The lighting and the sunlight streaming in the window at the end of the hall draws me in and makes me want to find out what lies beyond.

5. Creating a sense of entry. What if you don’t have an actual defined entry way or foyer?  My Fairfield client’s entry is a straight shot into their open living space.   We plan to add a sconce by the front door and a small console table to differentiate the entry space from the dining area.  But there are so many options from bookshelves and screens to fabrics to even using lighting to differentiate a space.

Interior Staging Services

This staging company used a pair of open shelved bookcases to create a sense of entry.  I love the red door.

These LED lighted organza curtains would create a sense of drama and mystery when separating a Dining Room from a Foyer.

Karim Rashid's Cadmo Floor Lamp - Hive Modern

Speaking of light, imagine a series of sleek floor lamps dividing your living space from your front entry.  That’s a statement!

Bouroullec Brothers Algues - Vitra

Or the unusual Algues curtain from the Bouroullec Brothers.

Niels Bendtsen Index Storage

Finally, a console table can divide the space and provide storage on both sides.  This would be perfect to divide a Foyer from a Dining Room.

I love to hear from you.  What do you love about your Foyer?

Back to Work: Another Day in the Life of an Interior Designer

Firepit - Deep Downes Pool Company

I don’t know about the rest of you (and would love to hear!), but we had a fun-filled fourth of July weekend.  First, we spent Friday night at a BBQ with dear friends and clients, Catherine and Rob.  We swam for hours in the pool and feasted.  I also had the great pleasure of seeing old friend Judy who I had lost touch with from my former Wall Street days.  She and her husband have three fun kids, luckily all of the many boys were balanced out by their 6-year-old daughter, so that our daughter (age 5) had someone to pal around with.  Not that anyone would believe it today (at 88 and soaring) but on Friday night, Rob had to build a bonfire because we were all so chilly.

At any rate, we spent the rest of the weekend up at Bob’s parents and had an amazing time before heading back for our very hot but fun sailing date yesterday afternoon.  It was our daughter’s very first trip on a boat and she loved it!

In between all that fun, I did work for several hours yesterday, first meeting potential clients who need help with their three girls’ rooms upstairs.  They have a wonderful Mediterranean style – I step into their home and feel like I am transported to the vineyards.  And their three girls are lovely and fun.  I would really enjoy the job.

Then I was off to my Fairfield client’s home to take a quick look at the closet installation before heading to Safavieh for the amazing much-anticipated sofa find!  Yes, the good news is that at last they have received the CO (certificate of occupancy) for upstairs, so we can begin the design of the downstairs.  But before the big sofa reveal, let me show you a before photo with a great design trick.  The old sofa was on the street for a day but is baaaaack (LOL) because the new sofa won’t be in for 10 weeks.  Unfortunately, they will have to sit in this sad sofa the rest of the summer, but the wait will be well worth it!

Tape Layout of Sofa

I told the client to tape out the length and width of the sectional to make sure it fits in the room.  I was thrilled to see that at last, I have convinced her to put the living area in the back of this great room and the dining in the front – hooray – score one for the interior designer!   My client also taped out the matching ottoman and an idea for a future chair.  I envision a smaller rounded chair (as opposed to the square here) and we found some amazing fabric for it yesterday.  Now to find the right chair!

Sectional at Safavieh

What’s great about this sectional, other than just the sale price, is that it is semi-custom.  We selected the 80″ sofa with the chaise (smaller than what you see here), then chose an angled leg in espresso stain and a Track Arm like the one on the black leather chair in the foreground of the picture.   We added V Button Tufting for the back cushions, which was a dream must for my client.  She loves charcoal grey and her style is contemporary, so this sectional is a perfect fit!  The new walls are going up this week so we must choose a paint color this week and I would not do it until we had the sofa chosen.  Phew…

Living Room Look - West Elm

This is the concept for the Living Room.  I think the client will swoon over the Persimmon color Martini Side Table – she loves orange.  It’s such a great warm color to balance the coolness of the grey.

Bookshelf Side Table - West Elm

I have to check this in CADD to make sure we have space but wouldn’t this corner bookshelf table be amazing?  Just wide enough for a drink and some small storage bins for the younger girls’ toys.

Snille Chair - Ikea

Speaking of the girls, we took a trip to Ikea last week to pick out the closets and stumbled upon this fab bright yellow chair that perfectly matches the accent color in her teen daughter’s bedding.

Well, it’s time to go back to the old interior design drawing board and finish my elevations for my Florida client’s new Master Bath.  It’s a whole different look!  I’ll post about that one before the end of the week.

Meanwhile, I love to hear from you…  Where are you favorite places to shop for furniture?

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