Catch a glimpse of homes dressed up to celebrate the yuletide, each in their own individual way
Turn a ho-hum movie night into an Oscarworthy event with a dramatic and welcoming media room
Looking for a comfortable and calm space? Consider some of the most popular new bedroom photos
A soaring, cedar-clad ceiling punctuates this picturesque bedroom in South Carolina. Again, gray walls and bedding deliver a soothing, inviting atmosphere that doesn’t distract from the view.
This Birmingham, Alabama, bedroom features many of the recurring elements we’ve seen in this article: gray tones, painted wood ceiling, statement light fixture and layered, neutral bedding.
A geometric ceiling treatment and light fixture set a polished, contemporary tone in this Orlando, Florida, bedroom, while simple furnishings and decor in organic tones establish a calm and comfortable attitude.
Silvery grays ensconce this London bedroom, while a luxurious collection of bedding gives new meaning to the term beauty sleep.
A generous dose of soft white paint creates a refreshing atmosphere in this Massachusetts bedroom. Meanwhile, built-in storage below the window seat and on either side of the bed and below it turns a tranquil space into an organization workhorse.
This bedroom proves that well-chosen colors and textures can transform any simple space into one brimming with character. Pastel colors set a soothing tone while touchy-feely fabrics beckon one to curl up and stay awhile.
Why sleep when you live in a dream world? Here, glass walls capture a stunning view of Laguna Beach in Southern California.
Again, gray tones create a soothing vibe in this Parisian home, but it’s the ropy elephant piece that really sets the room apart.
Shiplap walls and antique-style bed frames lend a farmhouse vibe to this South Carolina bedroom.
The decor in this bedroom gives the impression of a moment in a movie that’s transitioning from black and white to Technicolor. Cool silvers and grays anchor the look while bursts of pink and turquoise vie for attention.
A thoughtful mix of pattern, fabric and colors elevates this Florida bedroom to the next level.
This bedroom on the water in Florida employs a blue-gray color scheme, oak floors and wood slat wall cladding for a coastal look that’s anything but boring.
Glamorous doesn’t begin to describe this London bedroom, which features a custom bed, soothing blue wall color, round metal nightstands and an elegant bench.
This spacious San Francisco bedroom has a lot going for it. A cool gray color scheme, subtle mix of patterns, textured wallcovering on a feature wall, sliding barn door, rich wood floors and a delightful lounge seat (with breakfast) all come together to make this space a difficult one to leave.
Built-in bedside cabinetry, a window seat and a gray-blue color scheme create a winning combination in this Russian bedroom.
Here, gorgeous wood beams and window millwork lead the eye to a picturesque view of San Francisco Bay.
A king-size bed placed against a feature wall with a vinyl wallcovering grabs attention in this bedroom in Calgary, Canada.
Three built-in beds with drawer storage maximize space in this quaint Nantucket home.
Traditional patterned draperies and a four-poster bed define this large Atlanta bedroom.
A headboard wall and sleek, modern design up the appeal in this Palm Springs, California, bedroom. Meanwhile, a wall-to-wall window section above the bed cleverly frames a piece of sky.
A big, fluffy bedspread, elegant chandelier, soothing wall color and eye-catching bench make this New York bedroom by Jan Hiltz Interiors a hit.
A cool gray tone sets the stage for this exquisite bedroom, the highlight of which is a large wooden sliding barn door.
A heavenly bathroom could be just a few features away. Would any of these be must-haves for your renovation?
A dual shower. Would you forgo a bathtub altogether in favor of a shower? What if it were a really nice shower? This gorgeous shower has dual showerheads, black slate and built-in storage for towels and soap. Many Wolford Built Homes customers are more focused on a luxurious shower than a tub.
Wood. Wood in bathrooms has been trending for several years now and shows no signs of slowing — and why not? With marine-grade supplies and specialty finishes, it’s possible to enjoy the warm look and feel of wood in the bathroom. Say goodbye to cold tile!
Sneaky storage. If you are redoing the whole bathroom, you may as well give some thought to your storage options — things have evolved since the days when your only choices were pedestal sink or double vanity.
Sneak in pullout shelves, wall cubbies, recessed niches and more to get exactly the right storage for your stuff.
A view. Sadly, this won’t work for all of us (at least not those of us with close neighbors), but if you are lucky enough to have a home with some privacy, I say make use of it!
A wall-to-wall window like this one will give you the feeling of soaking right out in nature — and making the bottom of the window level with the top of the tub will keep you from feeling overexposed. You can also always add window shades for privacy and light filtering.
Make your construction experience a happy one by following these steps
Don’t approach a builder too soon
It may seem logical if you’re thinking of having construction work done to start by approaching a builder, but don’t be too hasty.
Builders are generally good at pricing once they know exactly what’s wanted, but asking for a price before you have any drawings or detailed information about the project is as good as inviting them to tell you simply what they think you want to hear.
My advice is to approach builders once you have a set of drawings and a list of what will (and will not) be included. Otherwise, you may base the project on a figure that could be miles off the eventual cost.
Consider the scope of the project
Find the right kind of building company for your project. The kind of contractor suitable for a luxury retail project has to be highly organized, usually with multiple managers, a well-organized back office, and teams that can operate around the clock and produce exceptionally high-quality work at speed. Such contractors tend to be expensive and for most people would be too much for a kitchen addition or an attic conversion.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of small owner-manager builders who do a lot of the work themselves on-site and organize everything from a mobile phone on their hip. With such low overheads, a builder like this should be much cheaper, but the level of service, organization and speed may not compare.
You’re looking for the most appropriate balance of low price, high quality and good organization. You never get the best of all three, but here it’s key to decide what will be the best fit for you.
Establish whether you need a specialist or just a general builder
A really good general builder is suitable unless the work in question is unusual.
For example, a good general builder is perfectly capable of converting an attic or building out a basement. You can, of course, go to a loft or basement company, and they, too, may do a great job. The most important thing is to find someone who will do good work for the right price.
Similarly, you can use a staircase company to make a staircase or a door company to sell you doors — or just use a good woodworker to make such things. With a clear design, a good builder will be able to coordinate the right people (cabinetmakers, electricians and so on) to build exactly what you want.
Aim for one point of responsibility
Rather than using one general contractor, it may seem wise to try to save money by directly engaging separate tradespeople, such as plasterers, electricians and carpenters.
While it’s true that a general contractor will take a small slice of cost from the subcontractors, I would argue that this money is well-earned. Managing and coordinating the separate trades on-site takes a great deal of mettle and experience.
I’ve seen lots of people who try to do this themselves get into a horrible mess and end up with a botched job that goes over time and over budget — not to mention the stress they’ve suffered.
While it can work to pull out certain specific and well-defined parts of the work (for example, laying the carpet), I strongly recommend using one building contractor who will take responsibility for the project overall.
Let the builder manage the project
Views about what project management actually involves can vary, but in my opinion, the most important manager of a project is the main building contractor.
It’s the builder’s responsibility to make sure that the right people in the right numbers are on-site at the right times and that they have the necessary materials to do their work.
While an independent architect or project manager can play an important role acting as an expert to look after your interests, keeping an eye on progress and quality, it’s important that the builder is allowed to run the project on a day-to-day basis. If not, there can be blurred responsibility if things go wrong. So choose a builder who’s professional and let that person do his or her job.
I’ve mentioned it already, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be specific.
A set of drawings is a good start, but what about the structural detail — are you asking the builder to work this out? If so, make that clear or, alternatively (and, in my opinion, preferably), have the structural calculations done by an engineer before you ask for a price.
But beyond the drawings, you need to make clear exactly what the builder is being asked to include in the price. If the work involves fitting a bathroom, for example, who’s supplying the hardware, faucets and tiles? If the builder is to supply them, exactly which ones? If you want to supply the tiles yourself, who’s supplying the adhesive and grout? Unless all such things are clear, there’s potential for misunderstandings and arguments over money once the work has started.
Competitive bidding is the process of getting alternative prices from different builders for the same work. Clearly, it’s crucial that the information against which they are pricing is absolutely clear and specific. (Otherwise how can two prices compare?)
I would generally send a project out to four or five builders for pricing. This involves the builder in a great deal of work, and it’s just not fair, in my opinion, to go to more than five. However, when the prices come back, it’s not at all unusual for them to vary between the highest and lowest by 100 percent or more, so it’s well worth going to at least three or four.
Understand the importance of a building contract
A building contract is simply an agreement between a builder, who agrees to undertake a specific set of works, and a client, who agrees to pay a set amount of money.
There are many forms of contract, but the one that I most regularly use for residential projects has the drawings and schedules attached to the contract, so it’s clear what’s included and what’s not. The payment terms and so on are agreed upon upfront.
The important thing the contract does is set out the “what ifs” —such as, what if the work is changed along the way? What if it takes longer than agreed?
Ideally and, I’m glad to say, usually, once signed and filed, the contract isn’t needed again because everything has gone smoothly. But that’s often because everyone knows it’s there in the background.
Consider who will do the rough-in and finish work
With a kitchen or bathroom, for example, the rough-in involves bringing the waste, plumbing and electrical services to the right places. So pipes and cables are installed in walls and under floors, and are left poking out. Typically, walls are then lined and plastered, and floors laid, before the finish work.
The finish work is where the cabinets, appliances, faucets, light fixtures, tiling and so on are done, connecting up to the pipes and cables that were set in place before.
It may be that you ask your builder to do both, but it’s not unusual for the finish work to be done by the person who supplied the kitchen or bathroom. This can work perfectly well as long as all parties understand in advance exactly what is (and is not) expected of them.
Make one comprehensive inspection list
More arguments happen at the final stage than at any other time in a project, so it’s important to be ready for the common pitfalls.
When the main work is going full tilt, everyone tends to be happy, but toward the end of a project, there are typically a thousand small items to attend to, requiring an array of tradespeople, and this can be both difficult and expensive for the builder to organize.
Combine this with the fact that the client can see the finish line and usually desperately wants the home back after a long wait, and frustration often boils over.
Again, my best advice is to be really organized. Communicate clearly on expected timetables, then give the builder the space to do what’s needed. When it comes to inspection at the end — checking for works not completed, or not completed as requested, which the builder will rectify — go around with your builder and agree on one comprehensive list. Of course, additional things may come to light, but it’s also not really fair to keep coming up with ever more items over time.
Breaking with tradition is a good thing for kitchens stuck in yesteryear. These 10 contemporary updates will help you leave the past behind.
Get out the paint. A country-style kitchen can feel instantly modern with new color. Paint the walls, cabinetry, ceiling beams — whatever you feel could use a little modern punch.
Add drama with a bold color. Accent your space with a bold, contemporary color, like on these cabinets. The contrast against a largely white space is uniquely modern.
Old-world classic, traditional and modern elements harmonize in Stephen Sills’ gift-worthy new decorating book
This collection of 16 projects by Stephen Sills will give your coffee table chic touch and teach you countless lessons on how to mix styles with careful editing. Sills is one of America’s premier interior decorators, and the book features his projects from Aspen to the Hamptons, as well as his personal labor of love and design laboratory: his own home in Bedford, New York.
While the book features homes where the sky seems to be the limit in terms of budget, there are many lessons to be learned from them. Plus, the gorgeous photographs, by François Halard, make the book a joy to pick up when you feel like doing some daydreaming.
Raised in Oklahoma, Sills moved to New York City in the 1980s and honed his unique ability to balance classical and modern elements. He’s also a very keen shopper, collecting antiques and artwork from all over the world.
Calming yet energetic, traditional yet avant-garde, his style has been given the ultimate compliment: Karl Lagerfeld claims if he ever bought a home in America, Sills would be his choice as the interior decorator. (He has also done work for very discerning style divas like Anna Wintour, Vera Wang and Tina Turner.) Here are some key design lessons from the book that can be applied to any home.
Make an impact in the entry. Yes, I know, the entry in this Gilded Age–inspired home is larger than a lot of our entire dwellings, but the mix of elements is a lesson in editing. The house was decorated with the owners’ extensive modern art collection in mind, with classical decoration providing a background to enhance the pieces. Museum-quality antiques complement the museum-worthy paintings.
Sills designed the unique stone and wood floor after a middle-of-the-night revelation that the keys needed to go in different directions. Architectural details like the molding, French doors and arched elements add classical refinement.
In the kitchen, think about function first, then balance styles. This kitchen has modern function, complete with a large island, two sinks, two dishwashers and a table. To create a rustic, comfortable European-inspired farmhouse style, the following elements mix in harmony. A neutral palette featuring biscuit-white paint, and warm wood floors, tie them all together.
European style: Rustic wood beams, a large vent hood, antique plates hung on the wall and a simple square tile backsplash.
Farmhouse style: Bin pulls, an apron-front porcelain sink and Shaker cabinets.
Modern elements: Stainless steel appliances, a pot filler over the stove, tulip-style dining chairs and a faceted pendant light.
Play with scale until you get it right. This Fifth Avenue apartment has beautiful classical proportions that needed furniture to match.
High ceilings and large windows with transoms that stretch almost all the way to the ceiling emphasize dramatic height in this bedroom. This meant the bed needed to emphasize these proportions as well; its warm metal finish and striking shape make it a focal point, while its height stands up to the high ceilings. Swing-arm reading sconces keep the area around it uncluttered. In addition, simple window treatments brought right up to the crown moldings emphasize the window.
“Modern living can be achieved in classical backgrounds,” writes Sills. This 1908 Renaissance revival landmark building in New York City, The Apthorp, had been chopped up and renovated; Sills was tasked with bringing it back to its original glory while adapting it for modern lifestyles. Excavating through renovations that had happened over the past century to get down the original bones, Sills prioritized restoring the building’s original classical proportions and architectural details.
To update the look, he bleached some of the dark paneling and added modern light fixtures to “lift the whole thing up,” he says. In this case a custom gilded cage adds texture around a midcentury modern globe light. Carefully placed antiques and a lot of space result in a pleasing balance. Items like the French wooden screen add depth, color and texture to the light-colored room.
Create versatile spaces, especially if you entertain a lot. In this dining room, Sills used four square black lacquer small tables that can be pushed together into one large dining table or broken apart for more intimate seating arrangements.
This is in the same building as the previous photo. The sculptural modern light fixture was crafted by artist Christopher Trujillo from paper plates.
Look to Europe for garden inspiration. Back in the day, architects, designers and landscape architects used to travel to Europe for “The Grand Tour,” gleaning inspiration from the great gardens of England, Italy and France. Today we can take a virtual Grand Tour for free, thanks to the Internet and the public library.
On Sills’ own property in Bedford, New York, boxwood hedges, pathways, walls and patios create distinct garden rooms and vantage points. Antique objects like the obelisks at the end help define the different spaces, draw the eye and create forced perspective.
Relaxed country style doesn’t have to mean classic Americana. Sills approached this classic 18th-century saltbox house with his clients’ desire for a lighter and more austere take on the era. American colonial architecture, European antiques and midcentury modern furnishings play nicely together.
Bleached oak plank floors and a Swedish painted tea table add Scandinavian country simplicity. An antique French screen and modern stools add unique character. Oversize green glass bottles with large leaves play with scale, and extensive windows bring the pastoral views into the room.
A mirror is one of the easiest ways to make a big design impact. Sills seeks large and unique mirrors for his design projects. While the rest of this transitional room is tailored, this intricate Roman mirror is a standout among all the clean-lined geometric pieces, including the bronze fireplace surround below.
Sills often puts a mirror over a fireplace, so that the entire tableau becomes a focal point rather than two strong elements dueling for attention.
Let a favorite work of art determine the color palette and tone of a room. This home in Aspen, Colorado, is full of iroko wood and warm neutrals, but a painting by Joan Mitchell amps up the color palette. With his careful editor’s eye, Sills played off the reds and blues with a few other colorful pieces dotted around the room.blues with a few other colorful pieces dotted around the room.
Let the Wolford Built Homes Art of Design Team help you get solutions to the challenges that cause many homeowners to put off interior design projects
Choosing paint first. While paint is in many ways one of the biggest parts of your design (particularly in terms of pure square footage), that doesn’t mean it should necessarily be the first thing you pick.
Solution: Once you’ve settled on some of your essential fabric furnishings (rugs, pillows, draperies, upholstery, etc.), it’s relatively easy to pick a coordinating color from a fan deck or set of paint chips. Finding fabrics you truly love after already committing to a paint scheme is much tougher.
Buying furniture without measuring. It’s hard to judge the scale of furniture when it’s sitting on a vast showroom floor. That’s why homeowners are sometimes shocked to find that the beautiful sectional or coffee table they saw in a showroom looks as though it eats up the entire room when it’s sitting in their living room.
Solution: If you know what measurements you’re shopping for, you can let the cold hard numbers guide you when your eyes might be playing tricks. Measure (or even mark with tape) the area available for each major piece so that you can figure out an acceptable size range.
Bring these measurements with you when furniture shopping and stick to them. If you fall in love with something out of your size range, ask if it comes in different sizes, or have it measured and bring the measurements home to tape off in your space to make sure it’s a size you are happy with.
Shopping in just one store. One-stop shopping is all the rage these days, but furnishing your entire home (or even just one room) from the same store tends to result in a much less interesting visual story than taking some time to shop around.
Solution: Try boutiques that carry different design lines, or online stores that draw from different manufacturers and brands. This way, even if you have one preferred style or period, your home still won’t look cookie-cutter.
Buying the whole set. Speaking of one-stop shopping, another designer no-no (although some would disagree) is to settle for purchasing furniture in a matching “set,” such as a bedroom suite or matching sofa and love seat. While this may be a shortcut to achieving a coordinated style without much thought, the results tend to have less appeal than a little mixing can provide.
Solution: Settle on one major piece and look to a different manufacturer for an item that coordinates without perfectly matching, such as these mix-matched side tables. The end design will carry more personal flavor, one that can’t be found in a catalog.
Never making a bold choice. While nobody wants to spend an extra weekend painting over last weekend’s mistake, being fearful of ever making an adventurous decision can result in a space that feels bland or unsatisfying.
Solution: Take a risk every now and then! Rest assured that if you do choose a dramatic wall treatment, you can always layer over it with light and breezy pieces (such as white wall art or neutral-colored furniture) to tame the look until it feels livable. And if you ultimately grow tired of it, you can change it someday.
Making everything bold. The opposite of the previous mistake is to expect every piece you invest in to be the dazzling showstopper. Even in very dramatic spaces, some elements must be the simple staples that take a back seat to the focal points. Think of it like cooking: A great recipe may have tantalizing spices, but it will also need the humble salt to help that flavor sing.
Solution: If you have a bold art piece, beautiful curtains or some vibrant fabrics, let other pieces (like your sofa upholstery or a large rug) be beautifully simple.
When choosing a new item or material to integrate, be sure to consider how it will fit into the entire palette, rather than just taking it at face value on its own. A solid-color pillow or demure gray blanket may not pop out at you when you’re shopping, but it might be just what a space needs.
Never letting go of the past. It can be hard to get rid of clutter from days gone by, but it can be even harder to shake bad design memories. However, the fact that you’ve lived through an awful trend shouldn’t put you off a beautiful idea forever. For example, if you’re turned off by the shiny golden fixtures from decades past, you may want to keep your mind open to the matte brass fixtures that are trendy today.
Solution: The fact that you’ve lived though a nasty wallpaper tear-down or a bad shade of orange paint shouldn’t mean you leave a powerful decor tool behind forever. With today’s technology, the options are only getting better, and you’ve got many great resources available to help you avoid making a mistake in the future. So go ahead, give that tempting design trend another try: After all, you live only once, but in design, everything old becomes new again. And if you stay receptive, you may find a bold style you’ll love forever.