Archive for the ‘Saving Money’ Category

How would you like to save money (as much as 60%!) and even get paid for purchasing goods and services you already use?  Paid for by the advertising budgets of all of the companies involved?

These days, many people want to save as much money as possible, and are often also looking for extra income, as business in so many industries is down and life certainly isn’t getting any less expensive.  I’ve come across an amazing opportunity that I’d love for you to take a look at that I think is a complete no brainer.

Do you use a cell phone?  Watch TV?  Eat out?  Go to movies or amusement parks?  Use high speed Internet?  Travel?  Take vitamins and nutritional supplements?  Shop at physical stores like Home Depot, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Saks, Best Buy, Borders, Blockbuster (either online or physically), or online at virtual-only sites like NewEgg, Amazon.com, the Apple iTunes Store, Magazines.com, Overstock.com, all major US cell phone carriers, and even Travelocity?  What about checking out some 900 other well-known businesses – including Fortune 500 companies, major restaurant chains, hot local restaurants, and much more?  Most are brand names you already know, use, and trust.

Please check this out and let me know what you think – http://www.fhtmus.com/wendyhoechstetter.

Not only are there amazing discounts up front, but you can even be paid a percentage of whatever you and any of your loyal customers purchase!  Without changing your buying habits.

Look through all the products and see what you might use, or are already using.  Pay particular attention to the Amusement Pack and Rewards Mall, since those little buttons hide a lot behind them.  All are great, but these two have far and away the most options.  Just take a look at how amazingly much is already offered – and they’re adding new companies continually.

If prompted by some of these links for a representative ID, just enter 3529650 and you’ll be able to look around.  It won’t commit you to a thing.

And definitely click on the “Watch an FHTM Overview” button to find out how all this works and where the money comes from, whether you want to sign on as a rep or just want to purchase products for your own use.  I particularly like Todd Rowland’s presentation followed by Chris Doyle’s, as they spell out everything about how all of this works, but they’re all good.

You can either become a rep and start producing income for yourself, or just purchase products through my site that will still save you a lot of money – and purchasing them directly from the vendor in question – all of their regular products, on their own websites.

Either way, you’ll help me out in the process if you will just go through my portal to access these vendors – which I’d really appreciate ;->  It will all be  pretty much completely transparent to you – and cost you the same or less than you’re already been paying anyways for the same things.  Plus, with so many vendors under one roof, you can save a lot of time vs going to each store or website individually.

I know, I know; this sounds like an ad, and too good to be true, and you come to this blog to read about interior design-related topics.  But this company is so exciting and unlike any other that I just want to share it with everyone.  I’ve checked out this company six ways to Sunday, as has the highly credible person who introduced me to it, and am actually working with a number of my interior design colleagues.  It’s such a great way to expand your options that can allow you to do whatever it is you like to do (like pick only the design projects you want to do) just for fun, and get the monkey off your back.  The training and support provided are incredible.

This opportunity is definitely not for everyone, there’s no pressure to sign up or purchase anything – and it is definitely not a get rich quick scheme.

Some people will get it right away after watching one or two of the videos, and others won’t.  That’s just fine. I’m not going to  twist anyone’s arm.  I want to help people, and assist the ones who want to do even more to help others accomplish those goals, along with their personal ones.

Just please let me know what you think, and feel free to drop me a line if you’ve got any questions.

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Image from Sparkly Like a Holiday

OK, I admit it.  I’m stealing this topic from Paul Anater, over at Kitchen and Residential Design.  But I’m not going to say the same things.

Yes, I quite agree that chalkboard paint is overdone – and way overdone in several of the images he shows.  It’s old.  It’s boring.  It’s dated.  There are clearly limits to its usefulness, safety, and definitely to its appearance.  Not only can it be toxic when it gets into your food as Paul mentions, but chalk dust can also be a major problem for people who have allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities, so it would not foster an accessible design for people who suffer from such afflictions.  It would also violate universal and visitability design principles, as it could create a similar hazard for other users of the space, particularly visitors whose sensitivities might be unknown.  Chalk dust doesn’t do anything for overall air quality, either, so that lowers the green design reusability quotient of the paint, never mind what the VOC content of it might be.

Now that we’ve looked at the potential health hazards, let’s focus more on the visual elements.

Looking at the images Paul posted, the ones that really offend me the most are the refrigerator fully covered in the dreadful green version of the paint, that huge, frightening expanse of black wall and door, and yes, that hideous kitchen. (more…)

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(ARA) – When you think of the colors associated with fall, green doesn’t necessarily come to mind. Environmentally speaking, however, it should. There’s no better time than now to lessen your home’s impact on the environment and change the way you decorate and live. So, why not go green this fall? It’s not nearly as difficult to become earth-friendly as you might think.

“From products that contribute to good indoor air quality to ones that truly reflect the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra, the number of affordable green interior decorating products has literally exploded within the past five years,” says Donna Schroeder, Dutch Boy color marketing and design manager.9119_B53_rgb

These days, you can find stylish, eco-friendly design elements for every room in the house. And, contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style for sustainability. The two can coexist quite effortlessly.

You can start simple by dressing your bed in luxurious sheets, throws and comforters made from fabrics such as rich, renewable bamboo or soft, organic cotton. Cover your floors with formaldehyde-free carpets constructed of recycled fibers or select a natural material, like stone, slate or even concrete. Then, hang energy-efficient window treatments with high insulation and shading properties.

Don’t stop there. Spice up your tired sofa with a design-forward slipcover and throw pillows crafted from 100 percent recycled materials. Add bright recycled glass plates and serving pieces to your china cabinet. Buy furniture made from sustainably harvested wood or, better yet, visit local secondhand shops and repurpose. Or, look around your own home and see what you already have that can be adapted for a new use. You’d be surprised what a little creativity and some good old-fashioned elbow grease can do.

If you’re looking to add bold, fun color, paint fits perfectly into this overall green scheme. It’s an inexpensive, effective and, most importantly, environmentally-minded way to change the look and feel of an entire room. Many paint manufacturers now offer coatings that contain few, if any, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or vapors that are released from paint as it dries.

Using paints formulated without VOCs, such as Dutch Boy’s new Refresh interior paint with exclusive odor-eliminating Arm & Hammer technology, takes your home one step closer to reducing your environmental impact while leaving your interior looking fresh, modern and filled with personality.

Many home improvement products, including Refresh, are also Indoor Air Quality certified by The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, a nonprofit, industry-independent organization that certifies indoor products that meet satisfactory indoor air emissions standards.

Keep in mind that greening your home, inside or out, doesn’t happen in a matter of minutes or even overnight. It’s an ongoing process. The limit to how green your home can be is up to how willing you are to adjust your lifestyle. The choice is yours. “It doesn’t take any grand gestures to start going green,” Schroeder says. “Tiny changes add up to make a big overall impact on the environment.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Tax incentives proposed for home furnishings purchases

Bill would give deductions, credits to consumers, retailers

Larry Thomas — Furniture Today, July 31, 2009

WASHINGTON — Two Georgia congressmen have filed a bill that would give a variety of income tax deductions and credits to consumers and retailers who purchase home furnishings and building products.

Known as the Home Improvements Revitalize the Economy (Hire) Act of 2009, the bill is designed to stimulate two industries the congressmen say have $67 billion in economic value.

“Not only would this bill help stimulate the manufacturing market for home furnishings and building products, it would save and create retail jobs, generate billions in revenue and increase home values at a time when we really need a boost,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill with Republican Rep. Nathan Deal.

The bill would provide a tax deduction of up to $2,000 for families with household income of $300,000 or less who purchase qualifying home furnishings or building products through Dec.31, 2011.

The deduction could be taken even if the taxpayer doesn’t itemize other deductions.

For lower income families, the bill allows a tax credit of up to $500 for qualifying purchases. The income ceiling for the credit was not immediately clear.

In addition, retailers and contractors who purchase home furnishings and building products for resale to consumers are eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the wholesale purchase price. The credit would be capped at $10,000 annually.

The applicable deduction or credit would be doubled if the products meet recognized environmental standards such as Energy Star or LEED, according to the bill.

The bill defines qualified building products and home furnishings as those which are used in the taxpayer’s principal residence and installed within six months of the purchase date. Electronics, appliances, housewares, artwork, photographs and “other home decorations” are not eligible for any of the proposed deductions or credits.

The measure has been endorsed by the International Sleep Products Assn., the American Home Furnishings Alliance and the National Home Furnishings Assn.

The three groups are among 14 trade associations that make up the American Home Furnishings and Building Products Coalition, which was formed last December.


Even without tax incentives, and even if you don’t live in Georgia, this is a great time to invest in at least some of the wonderful new things for your home that you know you’ve been dreaming of!  Not only will prices never be lower (and in some cases, may already be discounted), but it would still help stimulate the economy, which can only benefit us all.  Plus, you’d then get all that enjoyment of your newly redesigned home for years to come!

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Furniture tipping over can create a significant hazard in the home, particularly to young children, although the frail elderly and the disabled may also be disproportionately negatively impacted as well. Top quality furniture has always resisted tipping over as a result of use far more effectively than cheaper goods, because best manufacturing practices and materials create structure that builds this in to a large extent.

However, particularly since most people purchase mass market goods, much of which does not come anywhere near meeting these kinds of inherent quality standards, it’s important to read the press release below, and to be alert to the hazard, as well as to ways you can mitigate it.

In earthquake-prone areas such as California, it is particularly important to bolt taller pieces of furniture to the wall in order to prevent tip-over in an earthquake (although that still won’t help with the problem of poorly constructed drawers falling out). In an earthquake, all bets are off as to what will or will not tip over due to construction quality, and you’ve got to assume that everything will fall over. Securing tall pieces to the wall is just plain a good idea everywhere else, too, for the reasons outlined below, just on general principles, and is the reason this new voluntary standard has been developed.

In future posts, I’ll address the question of what to look for in furniture construction of various types of furniture in order to ensure you get the best possible quality, which contributes to safety, comfort, usability, durability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness, as well as pure pleasure and enjoyment.

Please click on the posts feed button on the top right side of this blog’s home page if you’d like to subscribe to this blog to be automatically notified about any new posts, and on the comments button if you want to follow the comments.


(05/18/2009) AHFA Will Use Consumer Website to Help Educate Parents About Furniture Tip-Over Hazards
By: Jackie Hirschhaut, 336/881-1016

HIGH POINT, N.C. – ASTM International has released a revised furniture tip-over standard requiring manufacturers to include a “tip restraint” with each chest, door chest and dresser taller than 30 inches.

“Tip restraints attach the piece of furniture to an interior wall, framing or other support to help prevent the piece from tipping over,” explains American Home Furnishings Alliance Vice President Bill Perdue, who served as co-chair of the furniture safety subcommittee that worked on the revised standard. “Furnishings that comply with the new standard also will carry a new warning label that cautions parents not to open more than one drawer at a time, not to place televisions or other heavy objects on the top of the product, and not to allow children to climb on drawers.” (more…)

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One of the many ways an interior designer can save you money is by ensuring that the design for your home or office is completed and that all details are hammered out and all materials are selected before you start to make purchases, do construction, etc. It is always cheaper to make changes and iron out details on paper before you start actually making changes, purchases, etc. – often by quite a lot.

Particularly when undertaking a complex project such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, there can be literally hundreds of decisions that must be made, many of which depend on decisions made before that, and most people who have never been through it before really have no idea how involved this can get.  Even a single chair may potentially have as many as five or six  or even more fabrics, trims, and/or finishes involved; the complexity increases exponentially when you move beyond that into a full scale redesign or remodel of an entire space.

It ought to go without saying, then, that it’s best to wait until the design is complete before you undertake activities like demolition, installation, or purchasing anything, for the same reason – not to mention keeping your designer sane and happy.

One of the most difficult situations to work with is when clients get in such a hurry that they think they are speeding things up by hiring a contractor and starting demolition before they’ve hammered out all of the details of what’s going to replace what’s already there, or if they run out and select the paint colors and paint the whole interior on their own before we finish deciding on the furniture and fabrics and other finishes.  In reality, the exact opposite is true, and this sort of thing is just going about the whole remodeling and design thing rather bass ackwards.

What ends up happening is that the design usually has to be completely reworked in order to accommodate these hasty actions, which invariably will cost you at least double what it would have cost to just put the brakes on and go about things in an orderly fashion in the first place, not to mention taking a whole lot more time.

Yes, I can probably find some way to cobble something together that will work with the pea green, orange, and turquoise paint scheme you’ve just put up, at least sort of, but it will take many more hours of time in showrooms, sifting through fabrics, in order to find it than it would have to start with the basic scheme and all soft goods, and then to select complementary paint colors, or have it custom blended to match exactly.  Paint is easy, but it’s dramatically more time consuming to match fabrics or rugs to paint than vice versa, and it limits options tremendously.  When any kind of construction is involved, the potential problems just multiply way beyond this.

And all of that extra time involved to work around what’s already been done out of order will cost you money.

Since most designers now charge on an hourly basis, this isn’t the end of the world for us, since we’ll just keep on billing you to redo the job until it’s finished. It’s annoying for everyone, though, because it compromises our ability to do a really stellar job for you at a reasonable price, and may well cause your job to go over budget, which everyone hates. And we hate, hate, hate having the design screwed up this way, with clients often ending up with something less than they would have had otherwise, all while paying more for it. Jumping the gun like this is usually a lose/lose proposition all the way around, for all of these reasons. We don’t like having to bill you to redo a design – or losing the chance to do the best possible job for you – and I have yet to hear of a client who actually likes having to pay for it.

If you want to make changes midstream, or to start construction on one part while something else is still in progress, or to incorporate elements you did not initially include such as those new antique rugs you picked up in India, that’s certainly your prerogative as the client, but do at least run your thoughts and any product selections by your designer before you do take any action to find out what impact on the overall project such changes will have.

If your project also happens to be a charity project or something else that the designer has for some reason elected to do for you pro bono, however, and you put the cart before the horse, you have now also just thoroughly ticked off your designer as well as cost her a lot of money, which is not exactly going to get her to want to go out of her way to keep on working on your project, or to do others for you at another time.

I have no problem reworking a design if what I come up with initially isn’t quite right and we need to tweak it or even start all over again in order to ensure it’s exactly what is right for that job and that client. That’s part and parcel of the whole process. But when I’ve worked my tail off to create something wonderful for a client – especially when it’s a freebie – only to find that they’ve just now changed the whole ballgame by putting the cart before the horse, then that does not make me a very happy camper at all.  And I know that you aren’t likely to be as happy with the end result as you would have been otherwise.  Stuff happens, and unexpected obstacles crop up that force design changes often enough as is.

So, yes, I know you’re champing at the bit to just do something you can see once you decide to undertake a design project, but do yourself a favor, and rein yourself in until you’ve got the whole design finalized, at least on paper.  Your pocketbook will thank you, your money will go further, and you’ll be much happier with the end result.

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If you’ve put remodelling and redecorating plans on hold because of the economy and thinking you can’t afford to do it right now, it’s definitely time to rethink that position, for a variety of reasons.

If you’re like many people, you’re likely spending more time at home these days instead of out and about, eating out, going to theater and concerts, travelling, etc. So why not be sure the space you’re spending all this additional time in is your dream place to be?

Unlike the money you spend on vacations and the like, which brings fleeting joy, the money you invest into your home may pay back when it comes time to sell, but just as importantly (or even more so), it will also reward you psychically and emotionally every single day you live there by making your home even more comfortable for every day living. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to come home at the end of each day and feel that thrill of being in a space that you love and that nurtures you no matter what else is going on in your world? To have a home that you actually don’t even want to leave?

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, if you don’t want to or really can’t afford to – even just a fresh coat of paint, some new throw pillows, a new painting or area rug, or moving the artwork or furniture you already have around to different locations can give you a facelift and needed boost. New lighting, new fixtures, and new hardware for your doors and cabinetry are other inexpensive upgrades that can pack a lot of punch.

Don’t know quite what to do, and can’t afford to hire a designer to do the whole thing? Most will consult on an hourly basis to give you any needed advice that can help you avoid expensive mistakes, and to get you pointed in the right direction to complete the job yourself.

However, if you can possibly come up with the cash, now is very definitely the time to go ahead those more major remodelling projects you’ve been putting off, or to remodel a home you’d hoped to sell but now find you have to remain in.


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Cricket looking more disgruntled than she really was at the time

Cricket looking more disgruntled than she really was at the time

I’m sitting here with Cricket on my lap, my boyfriend’s cat who’s “on loan” for a few days, since I volunteered to cat sit while he’s out of town. It’s been a few years since I had a kitty of my own in the house, my beloved old Standard Poodle Fennel


Fennel (RB) at "summer camp" - where I used to board him when I traveled.

died last fall, and I’m still hunting for my next puppy, so I’ve been completely petless for a little while now – for the first time in 18 years. It’s really weird. Although I live about half time with Cricket and her daddy, it’s really not the same as having one of my own, in my own home all the time. So, while I really miss my guy, I’m really enjoying having Cricket here, and as I deal with the fur and litter box, I’m reminded of all of the fun – and the hassles – of pet ownership – including the implications for interior design.

Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they pose a challenge to having and maintaining a beautiful home, even when they’re very well trained. Accidents and messes are just a part of life with an animal in the house, which includes vomiting, tracking dirt in, and anything from occasional incontinence to outright bad behavior making them soil anywhere they want, as well as other issues such as cats scratching the furniture, climbing the drapes, etc. The soiling issues also get worse as the pet ages, or if it develops health problems.

People often ask me how they can still have a nice home when they share it with pets, so here are some thoughts.


No matter what materials you choose for your home, your first line of defense is obviously to make sure that Fido or Garfield are well-trained so that they do their business where they are supposed to, and use scratching posts, climbing towers designed for the purpose, and their own chewtoys instead of the furniture and drapes to exercise their natural instincts to chew, climb, and scratch. Keeping the critters off of the furniture altogether will help preserve it, but for most people these days, that’s not an option, and you still have to deal with the floors anyways.

Regular bathing and grooming of your pet will also keep it clean and prevent shedding, which will help immensely with maintaining the cleanliness of your home.



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Move over, Japan; these Dutch designers may give you a run for your money in the department of joinery without screws or glue.

The innovative new office of Amsterdam ad agency Nothing was designed by Alrik Koudenburg and Joost van Bleiswijk using nothing (hah!) but interlocking pieces of reinforced cardboard – 500 square meters of it, and 1,500 separate pieces. That’s it. No glue, no screws, no tape, staples, etc. Just interlocking parts, like a giant custom-made Tinkertoy set.

The detail is amazing. Look how much it looks like actual steel beam construction.

Talk about green – and an incredibly economical way to fit out a new space.

I wonder how well those desk and table surfaces will hold up, though, especially once someone inevitably spills coffee or food on them. Maybe they’ve been treated with some kind of sealant – hopefully a green one.

Photos by Joachim Baan – more available here.

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Nowadays more than ever in most of our lifetimes, we need to be sure that the money we invest in our homes is well-spent, and that we get the most bang for our buck.  Maybe you’ve put off moving because of the economy, or you’ve decided to downscale your remodeling plans.  Or maybe you’re just digging in and nesting, and looking for a way to spruce up the old homestead so you can comfortably get a few more years in there – or perhaps because you feel like a facelift for the place is just the right nurturing thing to do for yourself right now.

Even in the best of times, I am often asked what remodelling projects are most likely to deliver the most payback when it comes to resale, and whether or not they will get their money out of a project, but now more than ever, it’s on people’s minds.  This is a complex question, because so many factors are involved, and it’s different in different parts of the country.  Here’s a handy website on which you can check the odds of a payback and an estimate of remodelling cost vs value for various types of projects – by area of the country.

Keep in mind that unless you’re planning to move in the next year or so, these payback figures will decrease over time, and will probably not yield a whole lot of advantage several years down the road, at least not as much.  If you think you’re going to stay put for a few years, then I recommend that you not worry as much about resale values, and focus more on making sure you create a space that really suits your own present needs and preferences.  If you are planning to stay there for the rest of your life, resale payback really becomes a completelymoot point, and you should absolutely make sure you do whatever works for you, and don’t worry at all about what someone else might want later.

In both of these latter situations, you may want or need to plan the project out in stages, if money is tight.  A good interior designer can be invaluable in helping prioritize and plan for any remodel, but particularly if you’re going to do it in phases.

So, what’s your next project going to be?  And how can I assist you in creating the home of your dreams?

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Updated 1/14/08, reposted and edited from my very obscure personal blog at http://wendyannh.blogspot.com a couple of years ago.


Below is a repost of a comment I sent on the Xtraordinary Living blog this evening, in response to someone’s upset remarks that she was going to look elsewhere for a cheaper kitchen remodelling contractor other than Home Expo, since she thought they were acting superior and trying to con her into something very expensive when they told her their lowest end kitchen remodel would start around $50,000.

If this is your design/image, let me know so I can provide proper attribution.

Clive Christian

Unfortunately, the figures you were quoted are just gross estimates that probably have nothing to do with reality. In point of fact, that’s really probably a *low* estimate of the lower end of the range of kitchen remodels nowadays.

It’s not about someone copping an attitude; that’s just the reality. Kitchens that cost $200,000 and up aren’t all that uncommon nowadays, to be perfectly frank – and something like the one shown above could easily reach that level or even considerably more.

Even “inexpensive” cabinetry (like Ikea) and countertops are pretty expensive, and no matter what you choose, redoing a kitchen is a very labor intensive job, especially if you do anything other than replace the exact same cabinetry layout. Particularly if any sort of plumbing or electrical work is involved, or hidden damage is encountered, you will see $50,000 in the rearview mirror very quickly. There are certain minimum labor costs no matter what products you choose.

Between the labor and the cabinets, that’s where the bulk of the expense of a kitchen remodel is, but there are still a zillion other details that go into it that all add up pretty high, even with lower end materials.

You can certainly try to control the labor costs by finding a less expensive contractor, but do remember that you quite often get exactly what you are paying for.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to control the amount of work required for a given design, only the cost of the cabinetry and other materials, and much of what they carry at Home Depot/Expo is definitely at the low end of what’s out there cabinetry-wise.

Remember, too, that you definitely get what you pay for in terms of durability and functionality. If the cabinet doors are falling off their hinges in the showroom, as I’ve observed with most kitchens at Home Depot/Expo, they will definitely not fare any better in your kitchen over time, especially if you have a family and kids.

Depending on what’s involved in fitting it into your existing space, it may turn out to actually be cheaper to go with a higher end line, possibly even custom, that can be ordered to fit much more precisely than with a lower end line that may end up requiring much more labor to get everything to fit halfway decently.

And if you end up with a contractor who isn’t as efficient as he might be, or as skilled, that will drive your costs up as well, and very quickly. Be very wary of low bids and choosing a contractor based solely on price, because such lowball estimates often don’t even include much of what needs to be done, and the price goes through the roof once they get started.

Speaking of customer service, places that give quotes like this really aren’t giving good service, either, in a way, because there are far too many variables that go into the cost of something like a kitchen remodel to be able to give a figure that’s anywhere remotely near accurate before the final plans are drawn up and everything specified and specifically bid out.

Don’t even think of shopping for products or contractors until you’ve got a full set of plans drawn up, if you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, and to realize the most economical remodel possible that gives you what you most want and need, with as little headache as possible. A good interior designer or kitchen designer can be worth their weight in gold in this process – ideally an independent one, not one who works for a particular store, because they can provide many more options because they aren’t locked into particular products like store employees are, and are typically far better trained as well. You will net out far more savings than additional costs in the end. (Of course, the same holds true for remodeling the rest of your home or office as well.)

The complexity of this field is just not to be believed, and you can literally double the cost of a kitchen just by which inserts you choose for whatever cabinetry line you decide on, as just one example of the myriad places you can get caught unaware in this process and drive the costs through the roof. Just the choice of one edge detail vs another on the countertop can greatly increase those prices, and not make a huge difference in the look or the functionality. Dozens of choices later, even with minor increases for each, and you’ll have bitten off much, much more than you ever expected financially if you don’t have an organized plan and a guide through the maze. I’m professionally trained in kitchen design as well as general interior design, and it’s still a seriously complex undertaking to remodel one, even a simple remodel.

The best way to find a good designer is through a personal referral from a friend or acquaintance who’s had their kitchen or home done recently, if you like what the designer did. Alternatively, you can find interior designers or kitchen designers near you through a good Google search, which will also lead you to the designers’ websites, so you can evaluate the work they do before even contacting them, to see if their style appeals to you. Several professional associations such as ASID and NKBA also offer referral services, but the options are severely limited if you go this route, and many of the very best designers don’t even belong to any of these organizations, so cast your net wider if you want the best selection of people who may be right for your own project. Ask about their experience and education and check references, by all means, but don’t limit yourself to designers with letters after their names, since those absolutely do not necessarily correlate with quality work or knowledge.

And if you live in California, check out the Contractors’ State Licensing Board website at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/contractored/google.asp for a wealth of information on how to go about hiring a contractor, what to look for, and what to avoid. This is actually an excellent general resource for anyone regardless of where they live, with the caveat that you need to look up the specific laws and regulations in your own area.

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What do you do if you want the look of a lot of books (or space for actual books), but your space is too small to install bookcases? Do faux books look real enough if you don’t have enough of the real thing? How can you make the most of the space you’ve got? A question from a reader on an Amazon.com discussion forum about faux books got me thinking about these things the other day.

Faux books look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Faux books often look as fake as they are. (Click on image to enlarge.)

No, most faux books don’t look even remotely real. Because neither they nor the “shelves” they are on are real, they lack depth and characteristics such as shadows that would show in actual bookshelves with real books. They can be fun on things like cabinet doors or utility room doors to conceal them, but the moment someone goes to pull one off the shelf to look at it, they will immediately see what’s up for sure, and your hoped-for erudite image will be blown, so these things are not a great choice for other spaces, especially offices or libraries, where one would expect to find real books.

If you want the look of books but really cannot spare enough floor space to install bookcases for real books, or do need to just conceal an unsightly feature, one decorative (and much cheaper!) option is to just paper one or more walls or the offending element with a wallpaper design that shows books. There are several book designs available commercially, such as Brunschwig & Fils’ famous Bibliotheque design below, by Nina Campbell,


but you could also make your own collage using photos of books that you take yourself or find elsewhere – or actual pages of books, magazines, or newspapers – and create a highly-personalized, one-of-a-kind design, which will save even more money, plus be unique, as in the chic bedroom image below. You could use images of books on shelves and try to make it as realistic-looking as possible, or tile and overlay the space with images of book covers, or get creative and play with angles and overlaps and adding in other elements as well, just for fun.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com.  Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

Newsworthy wallpaper via FabGreen.com. Source unknown; if this is your image, let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

The best way to have the look of books, of course, is to have real ones – and naturally, finding enough space in a small room if you do have a lot of them can be quite a challenge, so what’s a bibliophile to do?

1. Look up

Bookshelves don’t have to sit on the floor, and you can get a lot of mileage out of putting them on the wall, and virtually double your usable space. Hanging shelves over a desk or sofa, above and surrounding doorways and windows, and even completely encircling the room near the ceiling level with one or two shelves can add a lot of extra storage space without taking up any precious floor space at all. Use smaller furniture, too, and less of it, and you’ll be able to fit everything in.

via Cote de Texas.  Is this your image?  Let me know, and I'll provide attribution.

via Cote de Texas; attribution unknown

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

by Kenneth Jay Lane, via Cote de Texas

You can even store them in the rafters, if your ceiling is open.

from Apartment Therapy

from Apartment Therapy

2. Look around

Try narrow bookcases (maybe with pull-out shelves) on either side of a chair or sofa instead of or behind your end tables. Match these up with the shelves above the sofa and you’ll create a custom niche for the furniture but use very minimal floor space.

3. Look inside

· Use built-ins or systems furniture (even Elfa shelving, if you can’t afford custom cabinetry or ready-mades) instead of free-standing furniture to maximize the use of space, and integrate cabinetry wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Even a tiny 10’x10’ room can hold a complete library and all possible office equipment this way; I’m working in a space just like this as I write.

from Circa Lighting website

from Circa Lighting website

by Meade Design Group

by Meade Design Group, http://www.themeadegroup.com/

· Is there a closet in the room? Add at least one more shelf above the rod, or, if you can spare the space, fill the closet entirely with shelves. Or hang a closet organizer designed for holding clothing or purses and fill it with paperbacks instead. The clever pantry shown below could just as easily house books or anything else you might want to store and/or display.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

attribution unknown - If this is your image, let me know, and I'll add your name.

· Look between the studs. Yes, remove the drywall and build it out a few inches, installing shelves between the studs, refinish it, and voila! – a whole bookcase anywhere you want one that only protrudes a few inches tops into the existing floor space of the room. Or replace the whole wall with a bookcase – maybe backed by a translucent plastic to let light in from (or lend it to) the next room over.

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

by Aidlin Darling Architects via Sunset Magazine website

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

Translucent wall with shelving, by Vicente Wolf

· Store some inside a multifunction piece of furniture, such as a storage ottoman.

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

Tribeca Storage Ottoman from Kaboodle.com

· Build a window seat with shelves or a drawer in the base and/or side walls of the nook it’s in. Where drawers are shown in the images below, you could just as easily use open cubbies as bookshelves instead.

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

Windowseat nook with drawers and side shelves

by Waldo Fernandez

by Waldo Fernandez, http://www.waldosdesigns.com

4. Look behind

If you’ve got as little as 6″ space behind a door when it’s open, with the addition of a large hinge, you can build a bookcase onto the back of the door. Or put the shelving on the front of the door. If you have the space, you can even do this on a bi-fold closet door, or a rotating door.

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX door via Move Trends website

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

SpaceX Doors via Move Trends

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

Folding bookshelf cabinet doors by SpaceX, via Move Trends website

You could also try the Sticklebook, a really cool invisible bookshelf you could install on any wall, for about $28. http://www.sticklebook.com/index.htm

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison

from Apartment Therapy via Marie Claire Maison


5. Look down

Line up or pile books underneath your desk, occasional tables, or even the sofa, if you’ve got one that sits on relatively high legs and has no skirt. You can even put some shelves underneath the desk. Pile books artfully around the room on top of tables, desks, windowsills, and on the floor, and display your decorative objets sitting on top of the books. And finally, if your obsession becomes too great, do as Sharon Stanley Ruggiero confessed to resorting to at http://www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2008/08/living-with-books-lots-of-them.html in Joni’s fabulous post on living with masses of books, and place them between the spindles of the banister on your stairway.

6. Books as furniture

Forego one or more end tables and coffee tables altogether, and just use stacks of books. This can either be a permanent solution, or used just until you can afford (or locate) the perfect furniture piece. By themselves or mixed with other items, books are great decorative objects.

Webb Design stacks of books

Webb Design, Cote de Texas


Keith Irvine via http://thepeakofchic.com

7. Don’t forget other rooms

You don’t have to fit all of your books in one room; where else in your house can you place some? Even the bathroom, kitchen, and hallways are fair game for creative book storage.

8. Edit, edit, edit

Yes, it’s anathema to a book-lover, but eventually, almost all of us have to prune our book collections to some extent, so take a good, hard look at how many, and which, books are most essential to you, and find new homes for as many of the others as you need to, when the time comes.



– Please pardon any formatting errors or oddities; I’m still learning how to use this software and deal with the graphics.

– For any images without attribution, if you know the photographer and/or designer, or it’s your image, please let me know and I’ll update it with your tag line.

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