When faced with finishes from the 1990's, I find that basic colors were present but there was not much interest or style. For example, all of my bathrooms either HAVE or HAD basic 4x4 cream ceramic tile with an "accent" color used for interest. My children's bathroom was given an "accent" color of navy blue. It is important to recognize that I plan to renovate this room at some point, but it is low, low, low on the priority list. In the meantime....

Five years ago, I was inspired by a candy-colored pallette in a New York City Coffeehouse. When I arrived home from that trip, I went to work on a color grid in the kid's bathroom that involved the aforementioned navy blue.

Here is the end result:

(do you see the lovely floor?)

The wonder of this room (that gets harshly abused daily by the three tiny ones) is that it remains one of my favorite rooms in the house. The colors are still fresh and it does not scream "kids bathroom". I created 3 paintings with the leftover paint:

My friends always think I bought these on http://www.etsy.com/.

Style. Even in the splash zone.
This is Earth Month. Earth day is April 22nd. I have often thought about how much waste the design industry produces and am beginning to think about how we, as tasteful & styled consumers, can ease up on the new purchases when renovating our homes. These tips from Audrey Hoodkiss, owner of Ecology by Design, caught my eye and settled into my mind: Work With What You've Got Audrey Hoodkiss often amazes her clients without having to buy a thing. “Creating a new room can be so easy,” she says. “It can be just about rearranging or revamping what you’ve got and seeing it from a new perspective.” • Simply rearranging existing furniture can have a profound effect on a room. Designers recommend that you consider how light and energy flow in a given space when rearranging, thinking about balance and functionality. • If you’re tired of the colors or patterns on your furniture, consider refurbishing or covering them, rather than buying new items. For upholstered pieces, this could be more expensive than buying something new, but you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of saving resources by reusing what you have. Use low- or no-VOC finishes and paints for wood furniture, and make slipcovers and pillow covers from organic cotton or wool, hemp or hemp blends, or other upholstery-quality eco-fabrics, sold by companies like Aurora Silk, Natural Slipcovers, and GreenSage. • Use photos and paintings or prints to bring life into your room. If you don’t have many windows in your room, Hoodkiss recommends framing pictures of nature scenes or loved ones to help bring you peace and balance. Be your own artist and showcase some of your photos or artwork, or frame a section of your favorite fabric and hang it on the wall. Scour your local thrift shop for used frames, or look for frames made from reclaimed materials, like those from Pallet Art , which turns old shipping pallets into frames and furniture.

Simple thinking with positive impact.

In the past, I have utilized these design strategies and plan to do so more often:

  • Paint kitchen cabinets, light fixtures, furniture for a fresh new look.

  • Simply rotate your artwork to another room. It will give you a fresh new perspective on a piece that might have gone unnoticed.

  • Paint over wallcovering. This will be most effective if your existing wallcovering has texture (grasscloth, linen, etc). It can give your walls the look of an interesting paint technique without the labor.

  • Is your deck looking tired? Need a paint job? Forget it. Embrace the weathered look and accessorize it with other found garden objects like weathered pots, rugs, rusted iron work, succulents, and moss.

  • My favorite (go-to) website: http://www.etsy.com/ is a wonderful resource of artists that use recycled materials and reclaimed objects to create beautiful and timeless accessories.

This was our kitchen shortly after move in day.

This is our "lived in" kitchen today.

A lot of the same but given a fresh paint job and a reuse of materials.

(Stay tuned for the recycled backsplash).

If you have done something impactful with design that was kind to our Earth, please share in the comments section.

This was an amazing project. A very fun family of 4 moved into a house in Evanston, IL. The house had character and oozed with vintage appeal. There was, however, one exception....the kitchen. The white laminate cabinets and awkward layout made the new owners (and me) crazy. With the help of The Kitchen Studio in Glen Ellyn, we redesigned the existing kitchen/family room/dining room into 2 beautiful new spaces. Walls were moved. Windows were relocated. Stairs disappeared. The result is a spacious new kitchen and family room.

Take a look!

Space was limited for a pantry so we designed this eat in dining area with tall cabinets that house sliding drawers and low cabinets that offer additional seating.

The countertops are quartz and the large island is granite.

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