Comfy-Cozy Bedrooms

LBI project photo courtesy of An Indoor Lady

LBI project photo courtesy of An Indoor Lady

This holiday we’ve had a few more house guests than usual, which has me thinking about what makes a comfy bedroom. Whether it’s your own room or a guest bedroom, there are strategies you can utilize to promote rest and relaxation. 

For bedding, I love using subtle colors and natural materials for a calm and organic affect. Linen and cotton are my fabrics of choice, and I opt for minimal color with layers of texture for a feeling of luxury. Crisp white is my go-to on sheets, and I know that people have various fill preferences, but I am a ‘down girl’ all the way (if you are allergic to down, there are good down alternatives available).

Another key consideration is the type of mattress you’ll be using. It is a big expense, there are many choices, and it is such a personal decision (I recall once shopping for mattresses and lying down on so many that by the end of the day I couldn’t tell the difference anymore!). For guidance on this, check out the following article from my friends at SleepHelp.org: https://www.sleephelp.org/best-firm-mattress/.

Organization is also important in the bedroom. I once read a book on Feng Shui design that emphasized that ‘clutter in your space is like clutter in the soul’. That really resonated with me. In particular we should minimize clutter in the bedroom, to clear our minds and renew our energy. Make sure you have ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. This means having an efficient closet (even if it is small, which mine IS!) and keeping clothes, shoes, jewelry, laundry, etc. out of sight. Additionally, don’t bring work or bills into the bedroom. Those should have a designated spot elsewhere so that you can let go of ‘to-dos’ and focus on relaxation. Just writing this post is prompting me to head up to my bedroom and put some things away!

Lighting is a key consideration for a restful night. Exposure to light can have a serious impact on how well you sleep. Your circadian rhythm (the body's internal clock), relies on cues that tell you when it’s time to be alert and when it’s time to rest. One of the most powerful cues is exposure to light. Here are tips to reduce your exposure to light and set your circadian rhythm straight to get the sleep you need:

  1. Don't use your phone before bed. The blue wave light from mobile device screens can be particularly energizing and confusing for your circadian rhythm.

  2. Dim the lights. Turn down the lights indoors when it starts getting dark outside. It helps mimic your indoor light exposure with what's going on outdoors.

  3. Use blackout curtains in your bedroom. Even at night, light exists outside. Headlights, street lamps, even moonlight can disrupt your sleep.

  4. Get light exposure during the day. Just as avoiding light at night is important, you should be sure to get exposed to light during the day, reinforcing the timing for your circadian rhythm.

Lastly, as far as bedroom decor, you might have guessed my mantra is to keep it simple. With clients I usually plan for nightstands and lamps, and maybe a bench or chair for sitting to put on shoes, but not much is needed beyond that (see examples of a few of our projects below). I often have a rug near the bed for a soft place for feet when waking up, but I try to avoid knickknacks and I keep accessories to the bare essentials.

This holiday season, make sure your bedroom is a place where you can relax and recharge. We all need a retreat at times - make it your gift to YOURSELF for this new year!

LBI project photos courtesy of An Indoor Lady


 A big thank you to Amy Highland, a sleep expert at https://www.sleephelp.org for providing information regarding lighting and how it affects our sleep.

How to Prioritize your Remodel Dollars

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Image courtesy of Getty Images

One of the most overwhelming aspects of remodeling is knowing where to prioritize your spending, and how to avoid the pitfalls that we hear about so frequently. After 14 years of helping clients navigate their remodels (and completing a few on my own home) I’ve developed opinions about where it pays to spend and where it doesn’t.  

Don’t spend money:

  • Randomly as you stumble across deals, without a well developed plan of attack (especially if it will be unfolding in phases).

  • On fads or trends – it will be money wasted in a few years.

  • On something you want impulsively, and in your heart you know you are compromising, but you want it RIGHT NOW!

  • On trying an untested vendor or a product sight unseen. If you can’t see it in person, make sure that someone you trust has used the product or vendor and had a good experience. Avoiding surprises is the name of the game.

  • On accommodating the priorities of friends rather than your own. For example, don’t buy something just because your neighbor has it, or you think it will impress others. Buy it because it will make you happy or your life easier.

  • Did I already say “because it is a good deal”? I can’t say it enough. Believe me, if the price seems too good to be true, it usually is. (Here is a funny example – we noticed a little doll sized bench show up outside our elderly neighbor’s door. His son said “Oh – we are returning that – dad ordered it online because it looked like a deal.” Ha! Extreme case, but perfect example.)

Do spend money:

  • On talent and expertise different than your own. Hiring a professional with experience will save you money AND headaches (they’ve already made, AND learned from, the myriad of issues that can sneak up and bite you!)

  • On uniqueness. For example, custom furniture can be considered a work of art rather than just a piece of furniture. You are also less likely to get tired of something if no one else has it and you aren’t seeing it in all of the stores.

  • On quality. If something functions well and lasts for years, it will save you money in the long run.

  • On architectural elements that cannot be changed easily (flooring, doors, windows). You’ll want to like them for a very long time.

  • In areas you will enjoy and appreciate often. For example – use the fabulous tile you’ve fallen in love with in your own Master Bath or Kitchen rather than a less visited area of the house.

  • On features that will save you money or effort in the long run. For example, converting recessed bulbs to LED or retrofit trim seems expensive initially, but it will save you money and trouble over time since LED bulbs rarely need to be replaced (the projected life of one bulb is over 30 years!)

  • Lastly, it’s true what they say about being prepared to spend 10-20% more than initially planned. It’s not because the contractor is unethical (assuming you got good references!) – it’s because discoveries occur in a remodel and circumstances arise where it makes sense to address new areas or broaden the scope. Make sure you have flexibility to make the right decisions. 

In summary, remodeling can be a good investment if done right. Create a plan and set aside time and funds so that you have flexibility to make good decisions. It will be more successful, less painful, and you’ll have the best chance of enjoying it for years to come!

 

Functional Tools for an Efficient Home

Photo Credit An Indoor Lady

Photo Credit An Indoor Lady

At this moment I’m having to calm myself, as I am on a plane (I’ve been in CA supporting a family member undergoing cancer treatment) and visitors are arriving to my home in Austin while I’m gone. I had to leave the responsibility of cleaning the house to my kids and my husband, and I guarantee it wasn’t done to my standards. There is probably dog hair in places it doesn’t belong, computers and mail on the counter, and oh dear – maybe even something smelly in the trash! Did they even think to empty it while I was gone? Gasp! Okay. Breathe. It will all be fine, and hopefully these visitors actually LIVE in their home too and will excuse any non-Pinterest moments in ours.

Recognizing these feelings prompted me to think about the pursuit of home perfection. It’s an impossible goal and something I should have let go of long ago (friends reading this are thinking ‘is it possible? Will Laura be able to actually let go of this?’). When you think about images online or in magazines, you don’t see mail on the counter, shoes on the floor (unless they are adorable shoes - not Birkenstocks or dirty sneakers!) and laptop computers on the dining table. And yet, the tasks of daily life require these practicalities, and to constantly work to hide them feels a bit futile. It evokes the image of a gerbil on a wheel. And having the recent perspective of holding hands with a relative as she puts life on hold to battle cancer, it feels all the more stupid. 

So what is a design conscious person to do? I will say, working in this industry I am frequently exposed to nifty new strategies for home efficiency. There are many technological advancements and innovative new products, all designed to : 1) make tasks easier, 2) conceal unattractive necessities, or 3) make functional tools prettier. If you think about how you live and are mindful to incorporate these strategies into your home design, you can improve the efficiency of day-to-day life and keep clutter to a minimum. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Outlets with built-in USB ports, and plugs in hidden places such as cabinets and drawers. Legrand offers many clever options, but selections are also available in big box stores and can be easily installed in your existing home.

  2. ‘Smart’ controls for lighting, window shades, thermostats, and door locks, that you can use to accomplish these tasks remotely. Nest is one of the most well-known brands, but others have come on the scene. Many of the products can be controlled with your phone or paired with hubs such as Alexa and GoogleHome.

  3. Function built into kitchen cabinets, for necessities such as trash & recycling, dog-food, and storage for appliances, spices, knives, etc. to keep counters clear.

  4. Function built into laundry and mud rooms. Companies such as Rev-a-shelf and Haefele offer built in ironing boards, drying racks, and retractable hanging rods.

  5. For items that are most useful left in the open, opt for something with an attractive design. Here’s a shameless plug for a product I designed for a client in CA: it’s a ‘mudroom hook wall’ that we created to add function to an oddly shaped little room off her entry. We paired this with a custom walnut bench to create a unique space that’s as stylish as it is functional (shown here below).

Photo credits: End images by David Duncan Livingston, Center photo by Morgan Gutzwiller

New offerings enter the scene daily, so if there are functional limitations in your current home, or if you are remodeling or building new, be sure to think about how you live and investigate new products on the market. It can improve efficiency, reduce clutter, and give you more time to spend doing the things you love!