Perhaps the most fun of all home-improvement projects, interior decorating and design is a wonderful way to personalize your home, truly make it your own and showcase your unique style. While the golden rule is to follow your own tastes, following trends can give you insight into ideas and technology that you may never have thought up, but which fit your style perfectly.
Decorating and Design
Going green these days is huge. Environmentally friendly, healthy design trends are one of the hottest...if not the very hottest...trends around. In addition to being lovely to look at, the trendiest green designs have been engineered with careful attention to the health of your home and family.
Studies have shown that the air inside our homes is often much more polluted than the air outside. As much as we worry about smog and other environmental pollutants, we may be more at risk once we get home than we are when sitting in traffic! The newest design elements, from carpet to paint to furniture, have recognized this disturbing reality and set out to make our homes healthier.
When shopping, look for products which are specifically labeled as being healthier. These products are manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals. In years past, it was believed that these chemicals were simply a means to an end. However, we now know that a carpet, for example, which has been manufactured with hazardous chemicals, can leech those chemicals into our homes for years after installation. Purchasing products manufactured in a cleaner manner is a huge step toward making your home as healthy as possible for every household member, as well as reducing your impact on the environment.
Another popular decorating trend is the use of natural fabrics. Hemp, bamboo, wicker and other natural materials which are grown and harvested in an earth-friendly manner reduce your impact on the environment, and add a light and airy look to any room in your home. If you don't love the look of these materials in their raw states, research different products...you'll be surprised at just how many different finishes a single material can have. Hemp, which has a reputation as being rough to the touch, can be processed to mimic other fabrics in appearance and softness.
The use of fabrics and patterns inspired by classic menswear are one of the newest trends in the world of interior design. You can go bold with rich purples and gold, or play it subtle with tweed fabrics or prints. Small accent pieces are as trendy as patterning an entire room in hounds-tooth check, so shop around and see what fits your style. This trend is extremely easy and beautiful to live with, lending a sophisticated edge to your living space that still feels very warm and cozy.
Technology is literally exploding these days. The past few years have seen technological and electronic advances that would have seemed like science fiction less than 10 years ago! All this advancement has paved the way for some truly amazing home design innovations. We tend to think of technology in terms of laptops and smart phones, but the reality is that technology can be implemented to make our homes more beautiful, more enjoyable to live in and much more convenient!
Architectural speakers are a wonderful example of technological design. These speakers can be found in colors and shapes which match nearly any décor, eliminating the unsightly appearance of more traditional flush-mounted speakers. If your budget doesn't allow for a whole-house speaker system, consider these nearly invisible speakers in a family room or home theater.
Televisions which masquerade as mirrors are another great way to bring technology into the home in an attractive and useful way. If you dislike the appearance of a large, wall-mounted television, you can now purchase a television which looks and functions as a mirror when the power is turned off. Instead of a large dark rectangle taking up space on your wall, you can have a stylish framed mirror to visually enlarge the room and add function.
Home automation touch panels can be hand held devices, but they can also be flush-mounted into the wall for a sleek and stylish touch. Flush-mounting eliminates the need for rows of lighting switches, as well as the need for separate controls for lighting, sound, security, and any other home systems. The newest trends in home automation allow you to control security, sound, video, lighting, climate and many other home systems from centrally located, easy to use touch-screen. Many homeowners find it most convenient to install one panel on the main floor, in a kitchen or living area, and another in the master bedroom for extra security.
Painting is one of the very easiest ways to change the appearance of your living space, giving a room a facelift in less than a day. Whether you tackle the job yourself or invest in professional expertise, a fresh coat of paint can give your home new life at a very low relative cost.
Color is very personal, and you should never follow trends that you don't love. After all, you have to live with these colors every day! However, some of the hottest current painting trends are truly stunning, and offer inspiration for every taste and budget.
Green isn't just a method of manufacturing. While lighter shades are more popular, don't hesitate to add a touch of bold emerald to a smaller space.
Following the trend of natural colors, violet and blue are also extremely hot right now. These soothing, relaxing hues add a welcome dose of peace to busy lives. While they're great in bedrooms for easing the transition into sleep, they're also gorgeous in living rooms or dining areas for a relaxing atmosphere. These families are universally popular, from the very deepest shades to the very lightest.
Stencils and decals or murals are a popular addition to, or alternative to, painting. Stencils allow you to really personalize your space. Wall-sized stencils, which are a more permanent alternative to decals, are available, as are very small stencils for creating borders and accent pieces.
Decals and murals are great for testing out a look before you commit, although they're equally useful for long-term decorating. These high-quality decals and specially designed posters are intended for long term use; don't worry about purchasing a cheap “sticker.” Websites are dedicated to this new decorating trend, and feature decals and murals of the highest quality. Application can be tricky, depending on the size of the mural, so don't be afraid to enlist the help of a handyman for proper installation. When applied properly, murals create a gorgeous effect that almost mimics an optical illusion. However, when applied improperly, they can easily look cheap and tacky. If you tackle a large mural as a DIY project, be sure to enlist at least one helper to ensure smooth, even application.
DIY or Professional Help?
The need for professional contractors or handymen varies, of course, depending on the size and difficulty of your project. Even something as simple as painting has different degrees of difficulty. A full-scale paint job which encompasses several rooms in your home can be extremely time-consuming, and it can make life in your home inconvenient until the paint is dry and the fumes have ventilated. This process can be sped up considerably by hiring a painting crew. On the other hand, if you're simply updating a small bathroom or working with stencils, the task can usually be accomplished very efficiently on a DIY basis.
If you're tackling a large project, or if your project requires specialized expertise, don't hesitate to call in the professionals. Once you've made the decision to hire, the long lists of names in the phone book can be a bit intimidating. Thankfully, websites which connect professionals with consumers like yourself take the bite out of this time-consuming task!
These websites give you two options. You can look through profiles of local and certified contractors and handymen, and then contact them with your project. You can also read reviews written by former clients.
Your other option is to post your project online, and wait for the contractors to come to you! Professionals will contact you with a bid on your project, allowing you to research each individual, weigh the bids and make the best decision based on qualifications and budget.
Always talk through your project with any professional you hire before work begins. Whether you're putting your home's design into the hands of a professional interior decorator or simply hiring a crew to paint your den, talking through expectations and other specifics beforehand will help your project progress without costly time delays.