Talk about an explosion for the senses… With over 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space to cover and over 500 vendor displays, Suzette attended the Kitchen and Bath Industry show to compare new products, get answers straight from the manufacturers, and hear about advances in technology and sustainability in the kitchen and bath industry.

Below you will find just a few of the products our designer wants to share with you.

shower-doors-1The Gridscape from Coastal Shower Doors is a multifunctional door that is on the forefront of bathroom trends. This sleek window pane configuration can be ordered as a stand-alone panel, room divider or as a bypass shower door.

shower-doors-2All Gridscape divided-light shower doors are available with a choice of three glass types: clear, satin, and smoke grey. The clear glass option combined with the black anodized finish is perfect for those wanting an industrial-modern factory windowpane look; alternatively, the satin frosted glass provides the feel of a Japanese shoji door, and the smoke grey glass contrasted with a chrome metal finish is ideal for those seeking sleek and modern vibe. One key to the success of the design is the versatility. It can be intermixed with an endless number of tastes and styles ranging from industrial modern/steampunk to rustic shabby chic.

grand-view-1shower-doors-3Grand View Entries Grand View Entries products are unique. GVE is the first patio door manufacturer in the USA to offer both, “custom-sized” shades between the glass and blinds between the glass as a viable option to traditional patio door blinds or shade systems.

Here is a quick summary of the benefits of one of GVE premier products, Café Shades Between the Glass


  1. A better view! GVE Café Shades are engineered to “raise”from the “bottom-up” and not “lowered” from the “top-down” as most all blinds between the glass systems are designed. GVE Café Shades when lowered will not obstruct view, and allow you to fully take advantage.
  2. Control. Whether it’s your office, your classroom, your business, you should have control of your domain. With GVE, you control the amount of light, vista, privacy and security to each room.
  3. Ambiance. GVE Café Shades provide for a softer, warmer, more elegant “feel”. GVE patented Café Shades are made of a pleated fabric and are not your typical aluminum louvers.
  4. Affordability. When compared to average quality window/door coverings, your cost will be lower.
  5. >Better Functionality for all types of door systems. Are you thinking about opening up that wall and putting in a large accordion type folding or bi-folding door system? Perhaps a multi-slide pocket door? A new set of French Doors? These multi-panel door systems are large and typically are designed to go floor to ceiling. But what to do about door coverings? GVE has the solution.
  6. Safety. it is a well known fact that child safety and cords from blind systems has been at the fore-front of consumer safety for years. There is no need to take chances. GVE Café Shades between the glass system is a child-proof system, in the sense that there is no danger of entanglement. If you are a pet lover, the same can be said about protecting your fury friend.
  7. The Health of your family So lets see, the shades are “in between the glass”? YES! That means they never need cleaning. No dust. No Allergens.

grand-view-3GVE also offers Blinds Between the Glass as well. These have the same benefits as the Café Blinds but they tilt, raise & lower blind operators provide you the maximum ability completely control your light, your view and you privacy by allowing “Tilting” of the louvers while the blinds are in full or partially suspended position.

Smart Technology

While KBIS was full of such functional items as hardware, cabinets and sinks, there were also some grownup toys.

Warning: if you are trying to “disconnect” skip this section!

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall…”

smaert-tech-1Now your mirror can actually talk back to you! Take a look-see at MirrorVue – A mirror with a built-in TV. MirrorVue is a fully waterproof LED TV. Made to order in almost every size and shape with a large selection of beautiful frames to match any décor. Can you image the TV completely vanishes when the TV is turned off. No need to have bulky TV’s hanging and taking up space.

mieleAn extraordinary showpiece from Miele
The DA 7000 D Aura island Rangehood combines sleek, stylish elliptical design suspended by four virtually invisible wires, with the ultimate in recirculation technology, ideal for kitchens where ducting is challenging.







Smart Surfaces

smart-surfaces-1peratitle-logo offers innovative products, a relentless commitment to quality and a broad range of exquisite surface coverings at an affordable price. At Pera Tile, they “believe in spaces with a soul and a story”. With over 600 SKU’s in their product line, from classical to ultra-modern, it will be pretty easy to find a Pera Tile product that will tell your story. Click here to view Pera Tile Inspiration Gallery. The local rep for this product is Tile Fantastic 2910 S. Bascom Avenue, San Jose, CA.
modenus-1 is now the European leader in reconstituted decorative stones. MODULO offers a comprehensive range of manufactured stone veneer products and accessories for historical and modern walls, in line with the main decorative trends. MODULO offers a wide range of products that are easy to use and suits all budgets. The result is sure to add value to your home.

moduloWith consumers wanting easier and faster solutions, Modulo’s Easy Fix is the answer: a stone veneer that can be installed without grout or glue.

Check out Modulo’s online catalog and you will be amazed at the indoor and outdoor applications available.


design-milkDesign Milk’s Best of KBIS 2016

design-milk-2Design Milk rounds up editor favorites from the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) 2016: includes Wilsonart (antimicrobial & durable laminate surfaces), Bosch (new small space appliances), Brizo( gorgeous new bath hardware) Wellborn Cabinet (cabinetry that is adjustable!) and Ann Sacks tile(serious eye candy.

modenus-1Modenus BlogTour KBIS 2016
(KBIS on Pinterest)
If you’re looking to see the most cutting edge design techniques from Design & Construction Week in a real-world application, our friends at @IBSVegas have the ticket: The New American Home® is back for 2016! You can tour the 33rd home in the TNAH series, a 5,050 sq. ft. design wonder.

kbis-logo2016 KBIS Bath Trends
Go behind the scenes with The Editor at Large TV as they spoke with experts at this year’s show about how durable, innovative new technologies and products are emerging for bath design. Check out the footage here:

kbis-logo2016 KBIS Kitchen Trends
Walking through this year’s show, certain trends for the future of kitchen design in 2016 were clear. The Editor at Large TV spoke to some of our industry’s leading designers to find out how kitchen design will shape how we live going forward. Watch here:


The term “Aging in place” refers to the preference of most adults that they remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. Many considerations regarding aging in place, such as health and wellness, general assistance, and transportation are outside the realm of remodeling. This article focuses on home improvements and remodeling that facilitate the ability to stay in one’s home and provide resources.

As we age, our bodies and capabilities change. Examples of changes you might experience are:

  • Reduced vision and hearing
  • Decreased muscle strength or endurance
  • Reduced mental processing capabilities
  • Increased risk of falls due to balance
  • Increased risk of illness
  • Decreased mobility

Some or all of these changes happen to most everyone. Knowing that this is the case and choosing to have a plan to allow you to stay in your home means you will have a greater chance to control your quality of life and independence. Planning also presents you with an opportunity to lessen the burden on your family by outlining how and where your needs are met as well as, lessening the need for emergency assistance from community resources.
When we’re vibrant and independent, we rarely give consideration to aging-in-place concerns. However, it’s best to make changes in advance rather than when there is a crisis. Many of these ideas could benefit everyone, not just the elderly, but they become increasingly important, as we age. Here are three areas to consider as a starting point for aging in place changes to your home: Decluttering, Accessibility and Safety.


The first step in facilitating aging in place improvements in your home is decluttering. Decluttering will allow you to assess how much space you really need if you are considering downsizing to a smaller home or retirement community.

AARP’s HomeFit Guide offers advice on how to prepare a home for aging in place and reminds us that decluttering and organizing your belongings while you are young enough to tackle the job allows you to:

  • Access what you want easily.
  • Enjoy memories stored in mementos, photos, letters, videos and other treasures.
  • Reorganize possessions for safe reach.
  • Maneuver more easily through the home in case you become disabled.


Once you have tackled decluttering your home, look for ways to organize your items to make them accessible. To make things easy to reach, you’ll want storage that’s not too high and not too close to the floor. If you’re able to remodel your kitchen, the AARP suggests that you hang your upper cabinets 12 to 15 inches above the countertop instead of the normal 18 inches and place your lower cabinets six inches above the floor.

shelvingYou could also install Pull Down Shelving in existing upper cabinets. For lower cabinets, adding rollout shelves (or replacing the cabinets with drawers) can make things much more accessible. Anne-Marie Brunet at Next Avenue provides numerous examples of how lower cabinets can be replaced or redesigned.

clothesWhen it comes to the clothes closets, storage solutions that get the shoes off the floor are generally a good idea since bending becomes harder with age. Pull-down closet rods can make clothes easier to reach in closets where the rods are fairly high. Most people will be satisfied with far simpler solutions, but it’s still interesting to see the innovative storage products that are available to keep things within easy reach.

Safety and Lighting

lighting1There are many risks for injury to older adults in the household that impact their ability to successfully age in place. Among the greatest threats is falling. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injuries leading to death among older adults. Common features in an everyday household, such as a lack of support in the shower or bathroom, inadequate railings on the stairs, loose throw rugs, and obstructed pathways, and poor lighting are all possible dangers to an older person.

Additional railings, grab bars, a hand-held shower head, walk-in bathtubs, curb-less showers with seats, nonskid flooring, removal of throw rugs and clutter, and increased lighting with accessible 3-way switches are all improvements that will create a safer environment.

Seniors need two to three times as much light to see as well as younger people. Low lighting may contribute to slips, trips and falls by lowering visibility of hazards such as unexpected steps or sudden changes in floor surfaces. Ways to increase light in the home include:

  • Consider toe-kick lighting in the bathroom or kitchen to provide visual cuing and an additional reference point for judging distance or depth when entering a space or approaching objects.
  • Add a skylights or solar tubes in dim hallways or dark rooms.
  • For nightlights, SnapPower makes an outlet cover with a built- in night light.


For more lighting recommendations, check out Lamps Plus 25 Lighting Tips for Seniors.


Decluttering and Organizing

moving-onA Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home








StorageMotion Inc. is a company that is dedicated to creating all types of products that improve closet and home design and dramatically increase the amount of useable space. Their products are automatic and power-assisted so that anyone can use them.

never-to-busy-to-cure-clutterNever Too Busy to Cure Clutter by Erin Rooney Doland

Whether you have thirty seconds, one minute, five minutes, or fifteen minutes, this organizing daily devotional offers tips, checklists, weekend projects, quizzes, and encouragement that will help you find the time, motivation, and permission to let go of sentimental clutter, set up storage solutions, and establish routines that make sense for your life.





National Association of Home Builders

Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist


Next Avenue
8 Things to Consider Before Remodeling to Age in Place

Community Programs

avenidasWe are fortunate to have several quality senior programs in the Bay Area, including Avenidas Village.

Avenidas supports seniors in various aspects of senior living. Last year, as an approved contractor, Hammerschmidt Construction was invited to participate at their vendor fair. It was at this fair that we found a comprehensive check-list of Home Safety Recommendations for Aging-in-Place, complements of Nancy Goldcamp from Coldwell Banker.

rsvpDid you know that seniors and the homebound residing on the Peninsula and in the South Bay may request free assistance with household tasks through REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP)?

2016 RSVP week will be in May. (Look for more info in the Los Altos Town Crier next month)

RSVP 2015 sample BROCHURE


senior-helpersSenior Helpers is an in-home care-giving franchise that recently moved to Los Altos. They offer personal care and companion services.

It’s twins!
For the first time, Pantone the world-renowned authority on color and provider of color systems for the selection and communication of color across industries, has chosen a pair of baby-hued pastels as the Color of the Year — Rose Quartz (a kind of mineral pink) and Serenity (a light blue).


Photo: Seattle Sky by Jason Rubin

The team at Pantone see this as “A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.”


We need all the help we can get. It’s a good thing that Leatrice Eiseman is looking out for all of us. Who is Ms. Eiseman? For the last 30 years, she has been the Executive Director at the Pantone Color Institute. Lee is widely quoted and is recognized by Fortune Magazine and the Wall Street Journal as one of the most influential people in the world of color.

livingroom“We wanted compassion, which today a lot of people are looking for,” Ms. Eiseman says. Pantone’s news release describes the colors as “inducing feelings of stability, constancy, comfort and relaxation,” and argues that they “create balance in a chaotic world.”


Rose Quartz and Serenity Color Pairings

livingroom-roseWhether in soft or hard surface materials, the pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity brings calm and relaxation. Appealing in all finishes, matte, metallic, and glossy, the engaging combo joins easily with other mid-tones including greens and purples, rich browns, and all shades of yellow and pink. Add in silver or hot brights for more splash and sparkle. View Pantone’s website to learn more.





Below are 10 home furnishings to match Patone’s latest selections. Do they invoke a sense of tranquility and inner peace?


  1. Ambit Pendant Lamp by TAF Architects for Muuto
  2. Aalto Vase by Alvar Aalto from Iittala
  3. Denim Cushion from BoConcept
  4. Askew Vase from CB2
  5. Nairutya – Citron Pillow from Eskayel
  6. SMEG Toaster
  7. Ruché Chair by Inga Sempé for Ligne Roset
  8. Tallow Candle by Ontwerpduo
  9. Pivot No 1 Shelf from Hay
  10. Hai Chair Razzle Dazzle by Luca Nichetto for Hem


Leatrice Eiseman is the author of several books. Below are 2 of her 9 books on color.

the-color-answer-bookThe Color Answer Book (100+ Frequently Asked Color Questions for Home, Health and Happiness)






colorsColors for Your Every Mood: Discover Your True Decorating Colors






kitchen aidKitchenAid’s stand mixer in Guava Glaze.







Check out this Diebenkorn piece that incorporates flashes of both colors. At you will find how to accent with these colors and to find art that incorporates both shades.

01 Dec / 2015

All Is Bright

Next time you’re in a spectacular space, maybe visiting a stylish friend’s home or a beautifully designed restaurant, take a moment to notice the lighting. Chances are the furnishings, color palette, or artwork will grab your attention before the lighting. But, without a well–planned and well-executed lighting scheme, none of those design features would shine.

Particularly in the kitchen, as we have moved towards redesigning the kitchen and dining area into one great room, there is a bigger area and more objects to highlight. A well-lit kitchen begins with under cabinet lighting. With relative ease and a modest monetary investment, under cabinet lighting can have an amazing impact on a room’s style and functionality:

  • It provides task lighting on the countertop for food prep and reading recipes.

  • As accent lighting, it illuminates and showcases countertops and backsplashes. Used in display cabinets, it showcases art and sculpture.

  • It is an ideal source of ambient lighting –the perfect night light for late night snackers.


Photos: Curtesy of

Under Cabinet Light Comparison

Halogen CFL (Florescent)LED (Light-emitting diode)
Average Price: $1.50Average Price: $3.00Average price: $20.00 +
Lifespan: 2,250–3,500 hrs. Lifespan: 8,000 hrs.Lifespan: 25,000-50,000 hrs.
Energy Used: 30 - 75 watts per hourEnergy Used: 13 - 15 watts per hourEnergy used: 8 watts per hour
Pros: Inexpensive; produces crisp, white light. Pros: Uses less power and last longer than incandescent Pros: Energy efficient long life, low heat output.
Cons: Produce significant amounts of heat; can be dangerous in some applications. Cons: Contain mercury; takes time to fully brighten.
Most CFL bulbs sold today are non-dimmable
Cons: Higher up-front cost; not all LED lamps are dimmable.

LED Lighting

Photo : American Lighting Association

Photo : American Lighting Association

While fluorescent and halogen lighting are still being used, LED strip lights and LED tape or ribbon lights are leading in popularity because of their versatility and ease of installation. LED strip lights have a transformer built into a metal casing with covered glass. It is simple to change out an existing incandescent or fluorescent light, because the connections are the same. And, since they have a glass cover, they are easy to clean. LED tape lights come as an adhesive strip that can be shaped and even cut-to-size to tuck neatly beneath your cabinets.

Photo: WAC Lighting

Photo: WAC Lighting

Look for damp location-rated designs for an added measure of safety in the kitchen or dimmable and multi-color designs to add an ambient touch to any room. Long-lasting and using as little as 24 watts, these energy-efficient designs offer an inexpensive way to brighten your space. For a full report and to get the low-down on high efficiency LED lighting view Houzz’s article Focus on High Efficiency LED Lighting.

06 Nov / 2015

Beyond Beige

When it comes to selecting tile for your home remodel, the abundance of options is daunting. While the material, shape, and size of the tile may be an issue of functionality, the color and texture of the tile can set the tone of a room. An unexpected source, The Wall Street Journal, recently offered an exciting and informative overview of emerging tile trends. As they profess, “No home renovator wants to get stuck with a lousy tile decision, but that doesn’t mean the only choice is basic, boring beige.” See The Complete A-Z Guide to Tiles: 26 Ways to Go Beyond Beige for an alphabetical survey of the new tile landscape, from Arabesque to Zellige.

Not only does the article give provide information on the full range of materials available to homeowners today – many of the new ones driven by technology innovations such as digital printing – it offers ideas from design experts on ways to mix the various A-Z elements. For example:

1. Combine complex patterns with plainer patterns
2. Offset textural effects with smooth tiles
3. Consider playing with scale
4. Besides pure aesthetics, consider a theme and how pairings can be a narrative.

For additional help on choosing the right tile for your home, consider the following factors and see the associated online guides:

Ceramic and Porcelain
Both ceramic and porcelain can be rated for wear using the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) scale, which classifies tile surfaces from 1 to 5. A PEI 1 rating is for “No foot traffic, for wall use only”, while a PEI of 5+ can handle “heavy traffic and is most resistant to abrasion”.

Natural Stone
Natural stone is not man-made and therefore does not follow the PEI scale. The natural stones used most often in tile are marble, limestone, travertine, slate, and granite.
There are both subtle and significant differences between the types of stone as to appearance, water absorption to durability. For more information on choosing ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone tile, see National Kitchen and Bath Association, Homeowners Tips for Choosing the Right Tile

COF Factor
Especially important in choosing floor tile, the Coefficient of Friction (COF) is a measure of traction andJune photo 4 tile slipperiness. See Interiors and Sources  to learn more.

Color, Texture, and Style
The color and texture of the tile helps set the tone of a room. Before deciding on a tile color, take note of existing colors in the room, the mood you want for the room and the amount of foot traffic the area receives. Today’s digital technology, has transformed the process of creating tile with new and intriguing possibilities. For example porcelain look-alike tile is sized to resemble individual floor planks and ceramic and porcelain “marble” tiles look almost exactly like real marble but they do not crack and scratch as easily.

See Daltile Tile Trends to read about their Four Top Tile Trends for 2015: Glass mosaic tiles in updated colors and shapes, a softer color palette, with lots of gray, softer textures, and subway tiles in updated shapes and colors.

Stark Residence Wolf Range 72 FINHere is an example of the subway tile trend in this recently-completed Palo Alto kitchen remodel. The homeowner selected Heath Ceramic’s Stretched Hexagon tile for their backsplash. It’s a handmade tile that feels like classic subway tile but with a twist. See the Heath Ceramics website for a complete selection of their offerings.

A Man Cave can be defined as a room, space, corner, or area of a dwelling that is specifically reserved for a male person to be in a solitary condition, away from the rest of the household in order to work, play, and involve himself in certain hobbies and activities without interruption. This area is usually decorated by the male, without interference from any female influence. Technically, any space a man can go to be alone can be defined as a Man Cave. It can be an office, basement, garage, or shed out back. It is a room free from other themes or style of the home. A Man Cave is where a man goes for sanctuary.

It’s all in the Accessories
While the location can be almost anywhere, there are classic amenities found in many Man Caves including a pool table, bar, refrigerator, dart board, TV, sound system, a pinball machine, and very comfortable furniture. Often the wall décor emphasizes the man’s interests – sports, cars, movies, etc. Dependent on the man’s interests, they can also include a writing desk, a painting easel, a collection of sports memorabilia, or a garage wall filled with tools.

Comfort & Quality
The lounge chair is a man room necessity. While an old La-Z-Boy might immediately come to mind, take quality into consideration and buy things that are crafted with care. Invest in a good leather chair that is water & spill resistant and eternally stylish. A great chair is more than just a fabric bag stuffed with as much cotton as possible and a built-in cup holder. All good furniture has been designed with both form and function in mind. Here are 3 classic chairs with timeless appeal

The Barcelona Chair
by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe which was designed for the World Exposition in 1929 and still continues to be an iconic masculine piece.

The LC2 and LC3 Armchairs designed by French designer LeCourbusier

As far as lounge chairs are concerned, many consider the classic Eames Lounge Chair, made by Herman Miller, to be one of the most comfortable chairs of all time. When you sit in it, it literally conforms to your body.

eames-lounge-ottomanAs far as lounge chairs are concerned, many consider the classic Eames Lounge Chair, made by Herman Miller, to be one of the most comfortable chairs of all time. When you sit in it, it literally conforms to your body.
Eames® Lounge and Ottoman


Audio — Visual

The right viewing portal is absolutely essential to every Man Cave. Equally important is a kick-ass sound system — not just good speakers — but a complete surround sound system. This will enhance your movie, music, or sports experience to the fullest. To create an in-home audiophile experience we offer two resources who are both NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) members who have worked with many of our clients to create integrated home theaters or high performance audio systems.

Century Stereo
The Integrated Lifestyle

Authentic You

authentic-youThe key to designing the ultimate Man Cave is to create a personal retreat to surround oneself with things that are meaningful. It is the perfect space for that lifelong collection of (fill in the blank) that your spouse doesn’t understand. The cave provides the perfect space to organize and display the collection and keep them safe. See for example, this modern Man Cave by Benedict August where a G.I. Joe Collection is creatively displayed and childhood toys are the focal point of the room.

Mancave Resources

Find a wide selection of sports memorabilia from local and national MLB, NFL, NHL teams at Man Cave Memorabilia. Shop locally (Foster City) or online.

big-daddybig-daddy-logoLooking for the one-of-a-kind antique for your man room? Big Daddy Antiques Inc. is a retailer of one-of-a-kind antiques and reproductions from European, Asian, and North American markets.




art-of-manliness-logoTake a look inside the “Man Rooms” of 14 famous men from history on The Art of Manliness website.


art-of-manlinessFamous Man Caves
In reading about the lives of history’s great men, one thing the author noticed was that many of them had a place they could go to be alone with their thoughts. Some of these men had a study where they would retreat to think, read, and write. Others had a garage or workshop where they would tinker and experiment. But what all these rooms had in common was their sheer manliness. They were man spaces, places a man could call his own. Within these rooms ideas were formulated that would change the world and books were written that became classics. Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Edison are some of the featured

mancave-at-homeMan Cave at Home

A Manly Superstore, Man Cave a Home sells everything necessary to build the ultimate Man Cave, whether it’s a pool table, a bar, beer neon signs, Harley-Davidson bar stools, a stand up arcade game…you name it, they have it or can get it.

Game On!

Click on the team logos to find their 2015/2016 Season Schedules







The French have a special je ne sais quoi when it comes to fashion and style. Simply put—they know how to dress. It seems that the French not only know how to dress themselves, but they also know how to dress their home interiors.

French interiors seem elegantly “thrown together” because their homes have an understated elegance that is welcoming and invites one to sit and stay awhile—it’s equivalent to how French woman toss on a scarf on the way out the door, effortlessly adding that last piece de resistance to their outfit.

Elegant and effortless seems like an ideal combination. Let’s take a few tips from French interiors and see what they can teach us about decorating our own homes.
Interior designer, Renate Hering-Shepherd from Dream Home Decorating shares with us her 7 Essential Elements of French Decorating.

Rule #1 Under-decorate
Rule #2 Be Bold!
Rule #3 Mix Old & New
Rule #4 Mix Raw & Refined
Rule #5 Mix Country & Court
Rule #6 Look Up!
Rule #7 A Bit of Gold Never Hurt Anyone

For more details, the full article can be found at

The article also provides room by room French Interior Design examples, tips on how to “Frenchify” your home and how to find furniture and accessories. It also is a great resource for French Interior Design books and magazines.

Take a peak at Luciane at HomeBunch as she offers several design ideas and inspirations on her website. These two beautiful pieces were showcased along with photos of Paris that makes you feel as if you were there.

French Armoire 					designed by Twisted Interior Design

French Armoire
designed by Twisted Interior Design

Classic French Country Mantelpiece by The French Mix Interior Design

Classic French Country Mantelpiece
by The French Mix Interior Design


enchante-boutique-hotelIf you are truly interested in an authentic representation of French décor, a visit to Enchante Boutique Hotel in downtown Los Altos is a must. This French chateau style hotel is adorned in Paris chic, with authentic details througout the hotel. The owner provides and experience and ambiance of a fine European hotel without the need for your passports.

Book1“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

In these fast-paced times, reading the news or the latest best seller is often done on a tablet, phone, or computer. From kids to adults, its pinch, swipe, and shuffle, back and forth between groups of icons. However, for many, nothing compares to the smell of the ink and paper, the weight of the book in your hands, and the sound of turning the pages. It involves all of the senses. Then there is the sight of the beautifully-crafted book cover — not just thumbnail in your Kindle inventory.

For those who continue to enjoy their collection of books, make sure to incorporate attractive library space in your remodel. See the following creative bookshelf ideas to help you house your collection attractively.

Bored Panda   A leading art, design, and photography community, Bored Panda has collected these 33 Creative Bookshelf Designs. Even if you are not a book lover, consider their ideas for general storage – there’s something for everyone –from cats to kids.

House and Garden, The Most Novel Book Ideas

Find bookshelf ideas for every room in your home, including fitted and floating bookshelves, floor-to-ceiling libraries, and bookshelves built into stairs.


And finally, through a Houzz Tour see how the love of reading shaped a Seattle couple’s home remodel.

DeForest Architects in Seattle, WA took a dark Tudor-style home and opened it up for the couple to enjoy views of their garden and Lake Washington. Every room was designed with their love of reading in mind. Their home includes over 300 linear feet of shelving and various cozy reading spots.


01 Jul / 2015

The Not So Big Life

The Not So Big Life

Sarah1We can all be designers and architects…that is, architects in the process of our LIFE remodeling, according to Sarah Susanka, a bestselling author, architect, and cultural visionary. She was named a “Top Newsmaker” by Newsweek magazine, an “innovator in American culture” by U.S. News & World Report and has shared her insights with Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Rose. Sarah is well known for her book The Not So Big House, a guideline for remodeling with the approach of “build better, not bigger.” Her main approach to design is that if we look at the way we truly live, it’s not the size of the house that makes us feel comfortable, but the flow and function and attention to detail that makes us feel “at home.”

Her book The Not So Big Life, is an extension of this Sarah2philosophy and uses the home as a metaphor to discuss more peaceful and centered ways to live our lives. As she puts it, “Your life is a lot like the house you live in. It has some things that you like and some that you find irritating.” Some problems are more difficult to identify, articulate, and resolve because they are less visible. However, just like remodeling a house, “you don’t need to change a lot of things in order to shift the character of the house, but you do need to evaluate what isn’t working and determine what you would like to have room for but don’t. Then you need to compose a good design solution that uses what already exits but modifies it here and there to accommodate the new functions. After that you must develop a thorough set of blueprints that record all the decisions made. And finally, to live the changes, you must build.”

To explore resources to simplify, prioritize and slow down, Sarah’s book offers a comprehensive tool for evaluating your life and redesigning it to fit who you really are and to reflect your core values.

Here are the 12 steps that go into the making of a The Not So Big Life

  1. Developing a Blueprint for a New Way of Living
  2. Noticing What Inspires You
  3. Identifying What Isn’t Working
  4. Removing the Clutter
  5. Listening to Your Dreams
  6. Learning to See Through the Obstacles
  7. Improving the Quality You Have
  8. Creating a Place and a Time of Your Own
  9. Proceeding Through the Construction Process
  10. Moving into Your Not So Big Life
  11. Maintaining Your Newly Remodeled Life
  12. Being at Home in Your Life

A detailed explanation of the above 12 steps can be found in an excerpt from her book Not So Big Life. “Learn How to Restructure and Simplify Your Life”

sarah3A master in the use of metaphor to help explain new dimensions of understanding, Susanka unveils a process for changing the way we live by fully inhabiting each moment of our lives and by showing up completely in whatever it is we are doing. Through this process of self-discovery, described in The Not So Big Life, readers uncover more meaningfulness and vitality in their own lives.

The Not So Big House book series by Sarah Susanka brings to light a new way of thinking about what makes a place feel like home – sarahbookcharacteristics many people desire in their homes and their lives, but haven’t known how to verbalize. How big is Not So Big? Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you thought you needed, but designed and built to perfectly suit the way you live.

   sarahTedTalk Possibilities—Life’s Invisible Feast Sarah Susanka at TEDxSanDiego 2013

01 Apr / 2015

The Power of Three

There are many elements that drive a design: structural requirements, costs, and functionality, to name a few. However, there is an easy rule, used by many designers to create an aesthetically-pleasing, well-pulled together room. The Rule of Three is a principle used in many areas of design: architecture, graphic design, and photography (though, in graphic design and photography, it is referred to as the Rule of Thirds).

The basic idea is that details and objects that are arranged or grouped in threes (or odd numbers) are more appealing, memorable, and effective than even-numbered arrangements. According to Cecilia Walker of Cecilia Walker Designs, “While it is easier to create symmetry by balancing elements in twos, odd numbers create harmony and force movement and visual interest.” Consistent with Feng Shui principles, odd numbers give Yang energy and even numbers, Yin. Yang expands and moves, Yin contracts and condenses.

With interior design, the Rule of Three not only applies to architecture, but to lighting, color, and interior accessorizing.

Color and the Rule of 3

This simple diagram from The Interactive Color Wheel represents one of the designer’s basic tools: The 60-30-10 decorating rule, which is decorating with a selection of three different colors, each with its own pre-defined function, produces pleasant visual impact.

Dominant color: Roughly 60 percent of the given space should be the dominant color. In interior design terms, this color is for walls. Neutrals are the good choice for painting walls.

Secondary color: The next 30 percent should represent secondary color.

Accent color: The remaining 10 percent of the color scheme is for accent color. Accent color should be attractive. Warm vivid colors are good accents.

Design and Aesthetics

Margaret Everton is one of the many wonderful writers for Houzz. She is an arts and culture writer and explorer of how and what people create. Her work spans the disciplines of architecture and design, art, lifestyle, history, and literature. In her article, Using The Rule of Three In Your Home’s Design, she created an Idea book on the theme of threes and how, as a design tool, the rule in creative variations works in many ways.  Here are a few examples:

Rule of 3 photo2 “The three sets of French doors creates a center point for the room without overdoing symmetry. The chandelier flares out from the center, creating both a groundedness and lightness in this space.”

In this home by Taylor Lombardo Architects, “the larger center arch not only Rule photo3 accentuates the room’s center, but its raised height gives the room a loftiness that isn’t literally there. The room not only has added depth, but the illusion of added height.” Read More


With interior design, the Rule of Three can be implemented in progression and spatial composition. Consider the work triangle in kitchen design, color and fabric schemes, arrangements of furniture, and groupings of accessories.

For more inspiration, see Freshome Design and Architecture Magazine’s recent article “10 Designs That Incorporate the Rule of Three”

They demonstrate how to arrange furniture, tabletop objects, and artwork and provide examples of why the Rule of Three is not a hard-and-fast rule. There are times, such as in a small space, where it may make more sense to successfully “break” the rule.

Rule photo4 Rule photo5 Rule photo6

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