Home Design Find - Interior Design, Architecture, Modern Furniture

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Design Dilemma: Decorating with Dark Hardwood Floors

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

Dark hardwood floors have been in vogue for several years now, but the problem is that many of us still haven’t figured out how to show them off to best effect. Yes, dark hardwood floors can feel elegant and sophisticated but they also can feel… dark. Pair dark wood floors with dark heavy furniture and you could be in for a very gloomy existence.

So if you’ve got dark hardwood floors, or are contemplating getting them, here’s what you should keep in mind to prevent the darkness from overtaking your space.

Keep the walls light and bright.

As you see above, dark hardwood floors shine in bright, white spaces, where the contrast comes off as chic. This Georgetown townhouse, also pictured below, keeps the walls very white or a pale cream for an airy feeling. You’ll also notice that when dark wood floors are used in kitchens, they are usually paired with white cabinetry to lighten up the whole effect.

traditional kitchen how to tips advice

Here’s another interior, this time a very modern one, that uses dark wood with bright white walls.

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

Sometimes, what really helps to offset the heavy feeling  is going with a cheery color on the wall. For example:

contemporary living room how to tips advice

Lean toward the minimal

There’s something else we’ve noticed about homes that have used dark wood floors well —- they tend to go light on the furnishings. The star of the show is the dark wood itself, so too much furniture only detracts. Take a look at the spaces we’ve featured so far on the page. Not one of them is overburdened with too much furniture.  And the furniture that is used is relatively small in scale.

contemporary family room how to tips advice

Warm things up with rugs.

Although it’s true that the dark floors are the star of the show, they can be a rather overbearing star, prone to scratches and specks of dust. One of the best ways to counter these issues is to show off your rug by a throwing a colorful area rug over it. A beautiful oriental or kilim rug has the effect of making your dark wood floors that much more dramatic. Plus, they protect your floor from scratches and prevent the build-up of dust and dirt.


eclectic living room how to tips advice

Opting for a light color rug is another strategy for offsetting the heaviness of the floors.

traditional family room how to tips advice

Don’t be afraid to mix up your woods.

Just because you have dark hardwood floors doesn’t mean that every other wood surface in your home has to match. In fact, that would be a recipe for disaster. Take a page out of the book of the kitchen, below, which has mixed dark wood floors with birch cabinetry.

modern kitchen how to tips advice

And in the cottage below, homeowners have mixed dark wood floors with a lighter oak table and painted wooden chairs for a breezy, beachy, informal look.

traditional dining room how to tips advice

Think all light furniture would look strange in a room anchored by dark wood floors? Think again!

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

The home above also makes use of the fuzzy white rug trick, to lighten up the solemnity of the wood.

So you see, dark hardwood floors nee not be forboding or heavy in feeling. Lighten up, keep furniture at a smaller lighter scale, and your dark hardwood will be the star of the show.

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Magical House with no Walls in Sao Paulo

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Flanked by a huge bookcase, a library is completely open to the garden, and overlooks a reflecting pond.

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Seen in the background here, what seems to be a “library” is open on three sides.

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In fact, that room is a place to sleep, yet its integration into public views completely preserves its privacy in a way that is almost magical.

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While it is completely open air, the bedroom pavilion overlooking the pond is to one side of the house.

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Brazilian architect Fernanda Marques has created an unusual home that is totally open to the outside.

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An overhead tent of a glass roof is used to shield its inhabitants from direct rain overhead, but that is all.

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Sunshine rakes rough stone walls that warm in the sun, and bring textural contrast with limestone floors stretching throughout.

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With simply a hanging canopy above, daylight plays much more than the usual supporting role.

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With her intense use of daylight, the architect has conjured a bookish escape from the frenzy of urban life in Sao Paulo.

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Rustic Home on the Range in Wyoming

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Outdoor seating by a roaring fire is arrayed on a wooded “rug” under a hefty hanging metal lampshade to create the cosiest of deck furnishings in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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Giant blocks of hardwood are used to create the custom woodblock outdoor furniture by Pearson Design Group of Bozeman, Montana.

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Materials are used in an imaginative way throughout to define the home as a unique and special place to live.

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Found antlers and a headboard of a thick slice of hard wood with its edge left natural, is played off furs in a palette of browns and whites in the master bedroom to tell a story of the legacy of The West.

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In the living room, a thick of wood is a side table, and the comfort of furs continue, and are contrasted with uncompromising industrial fittings.

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The only splash of color in the muted palette of naturals is in the bold reds and oranges of these extremely industrial rolling stools and metal dining room chairs.

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Most of the graphic interest is supplied by textural contrasts, rather than by many colors, which are restricted to just the red families.

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The kitchen features an unusual juxtaposition of industrial stainless steel, effete marble and hardy rustic wood.

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A deep overhang is high off the back porch captures early morning sun in a deck designed for the first coffee of the day.

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Almost the same colors as the prairie grass setting, siding is just left to weather naturally.

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Together with a gently curved roof, he result is a home that disappears into the curves at the base of the hills.

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West Coast Luxury at California’s Laguna Beach

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What an utterly stunning place to drift off to sleep!

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Designed by Horst Architects and Aria Design, the Rockledge Residence in Laguna Beach, California is the ultimate in luxury.

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The architects brief called for a relaxed family beach house where the client could engage family and friends.

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The clifftop dwelling is perched on the rocks high above Laguna Beach with a nearly sheer drop to sea’s edge.

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There is a casual and easy luxury in the design.

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Virtually every room is about enjoying the views and natural surroundings of the site.

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The house and a separate guest house meet around a connected courtyard.

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An outdoor fire brings family and friends together in California’s balmy evenings.

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Sliding, concealed pocket doors bring the ocean

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The boundary between interior and exterior space is dissolved by the wide expanses of  glass.

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The mild coastal climate allows for the seamless integration of interior and exterior spaces.

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A serene bath overlooking the ocean is one of the charms.

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Sunlight leaches into the living spaces warming the surfaces.

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Native, drought-tolerant vegetation make relaxed and tropical landscaping.

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Rockledge is a place of meditation and contemplation, the lure of the ocean and sky.

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Altogether a stunning house in a stunning setting.

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Design Dilemma: Keeping Your Home Young

traditional dining room how to tips advice

Does your home decor feel “old”? Are you stuck in a classic style you’ve clung to for years because you’re insecure about dabbling in anything new?

It’s often not too hard to figure out the age of a homeowner just by taking stock of a home’s interior. Old homes often feel cluttered and stuck in time. It’s evident that the occupants settled on a style they liked 30 years ago, and never diverged from it. Often, there’s a feeling of claustrophia, simply because things seem so… set. Or, on the other hand, there’s a definite lack of excitement. You get the feeling that things stopped being fun a long time ago.

Well, we maintain that it’s possible to keep your home youthful, just as it’s possible to keep yourself youthful. All it takes is a little will. If you are one who feels that your environment can directly influence your behavior, then you’ll want to keep your home feeling vibrant and alive, no matter how old you get.

1) Try new things. Yes, you know that you love Southwestern decor, or shabby chic or mid-century Modern. But nothing gets stale faster than a home that rigorously toes the line on a certain decor style. If you want a more interesting home, go for one that is a little more eclectic. Mix in new looks every now and then. Try switching out rugs, accent pillows, artwork, for something that’s a little offbeat. Mix in new colors. And if you don’t want to spend the money try, swapping some of your pieces with a willing friend looking to freshen up their home decor too. What we love about the interior below, is it’s simple, eclectic feel. It mixes a variety of colors of the same Eames chair with muted mauve walls.

midcentury dining room how to tips advice

Below, an Australian bachelor pad exudes that youthful feeling, simply by virtue of the unexpected use of bold patterned wall paper and colorful patterned rugs.

eclectic living room how to tips advice

2) Get trendy. Young people love trends. Okay, so it’s possible to go too far with this, but it’s also true that indulging in moderation can be fun and refreshing. Check out design magazines to see what’s new and incorporate a few of the less expensive elements in your home. Try a trendy throw pillow, for example, or maybe a fun paint color, just to get the energy flowing again. In fact, a vibrant, unexpected paint job is one of the best ways to inject a bit of youthful verve into your home. Take the apple green stairs below, for example.

eclectic staircase how to tips advice

3) Pare down. One tell-tale sign of aesthetic-sclerosis is letting clutter and objects build up, without ever taking the time to reconsider their use in your home. A young person’s home is usually not cluttered, just because they haven’t had the time or money to collect an overabundance of objects. Take this same strategy to heart by holding regular yard sales or giving away items you no longer need or want. And for the items that you feel that you do need, ask yourself if you need so many. It’s possible you can make due with far less, which will give your home a feeling of youthful lightness. Another corollary to this is losing the massive pieces of furniture that can overtake a room and which are hard to move anyway. Since young people are on the go, they often avoid oversized pieces that won’t get through the doorway of their next home.

modern dining room how to tips advice

4) Socialize often. Young people are always entertaining. If you want to give your home that youthful feel, throw plenty of get-togethers with family and friends. Doing so often will force you to rethink design elements so that you can entertain often and well. And that will definitely keep your home feeling young.

contemporary dining room how to tips advice

5) Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your home is your refuge, but it shouldn’t necessarily be a deadly serious one. Have fun with color, pattern and style choices. Experiment. Think like a young person, if you get something wrong, you can always change it.

eclectic living room how to tips advice
beach style staircase how to tips advice

6) Don’t stop caring. One hallmark of the young is that they tend to spend a lot more time on appearance than seniors do. When you stop trying to look good (or make your home look good) then that spells the beginning of the end. So don’t give up on your home Pay a little attention to your home and your home will give back in spades!