Finding the right house numbers for your home can be tricky. You want them to stand out (“Hello, emergency responders!”) but also blend seamlessly and elegantly with the style of your home.
I live in an historic preservation district filled with grand Victorian houses from the turn of the last century. You would not believe how many modern Neutra-style numbers I see on these homes! I love the Neutra numbers with a passion, but they look woefully out of place on a Victorian facade. If you lived in a modernist glass house, you wouldn’t have numbers full of fanciful curlicues, would you? It would just make no sense at all.
I searched and searched for the house numbers that would compliment my home’s exterior, which is historic and traditional, but not grand. I also wanted the numbers to hint at my own taste, which–like the interior of my home–leans towards modern. During this exhaustive search, I gained a real empathy for my Neutra-numbered neighbors–it turns out that finding non-fussy, non-modern numbers is a tricky business!
I persevered however, and came up with several good choices. Check out the numbers I ended up with as well as a few standouts I spotted along the way.
Which is your favorite?
(Clockwise, from top left):
1. Montauk Black Slate / Home Depot 2. White Subway Tile / Wayfair 3. Walnut Countertops / Lumber Liquidators 4. Carrara Marble / Amazon
When it comes designing a budget-friendly kitchen or bath, there are loads of articles in DIY magazines and on “design” blogs that purport to give you that “Designer Look for Less.” The advice, to paraphrase, is something like this: Take a luxe material and find cheap impersonation of it–no one will be able to tell but you!
Well, folks, I hate to break it to you, but everyone will be able to tell. Sure, with the right lighting and some clever styling, these spaces may photograph well enough to look convincing, but unless you’ve designed your kitchen for the sole purpose of posting it on Pinterest or Instagram, the in-person experience is going to disappoint.
Don’t despair, though! I have the answer. It may seem counter intuitive, but the best way to fake a luxe look is by designing with natural materials. By natural, I just mean real stone, wood, and metals instead of laminate, engineered anything, ceramic, vinyl or particleboard.
But the real things are expensive, right? Well, sometimes, but some natural materials cost about the same as their faux counterparts (or less!) and look about 100% better. Do your research before jumping on the “faux” bandwagon and you may find the real thing is is a real possibility.
If “real” is still simply not in the budget, I implore you to use those less-expensive materials in their simplest forms. If you must have laminate counters, choose a solid color, like black or white. Ceramic tile can look great on floors–as long as it’s not masquerading as stone or wood. And inexpensive subway tile will never go out of style!
Here are a few of my favorite low-cost, natural materials for a luxe look.
Do you have any tips for where to find the real thing for less? Let our readers know in the comments below!
A few years ago, I took a course on Green Design during which several of the designers present began discussing how they no longer put microwaves in their client’s kitchens. Microwaves are the worst, terrible for you and the environment, and nobody even uses them! was their gist. Huh?! This was all news to me!
Sure, I lived through the early ’90’s mania about microwaves slowly killing us with radiation. But besides no longer standing directly in front of a microwave as it nuked my left-overs, I hadn’t really changed my microwaving usage or behavior in the last 20 years. Also, at the time of this Green Design class, I had a 3 year old and the thought of living without a microwave seemed outright ridiculous. What would I do without one? Heat up left-overs on the stove, like some sort of cave woman? I don’t think so!
So when the time came to make the microwave decision in my own kitchen remodel last year, it was an easy “yes.” But the times, they are a changing, and now I find myself designing another new kitchen for myself (more on that later) and I can’t get those nagging microwave thoughts out of my head. With that in mind, I embarked an exhaustive “if not a microwave, then what?” and started my search for microwave alternatives. Here are my findings:
1) A Combination Convection/Microwave oven This is the creme de la creme of microwave alternatives if you really can’t live without a microwave, but are also searching for something better, a combi is able to zap your leftover pizza and then crisp up the crust with ease. You can also use one as a second oven, which is great for avid cooks with small kitchens. Available in both built-in and countertop models, these run about the same cost as a microwave.
2) Warming Drawer Ok, so this won’t heat cold food up, but it will keep hot food warm for up to 4 hours. If you often find yourself reheating an otherwise fresh dinner because someone is working late, or your kids have practice, or all of the above, then a warming drawer could be just the thing you need to keep your home-cooked meals fresh and ready to serve. Pricier than most microwaves, these also need to be built-in to your cabinets, which is an added cost to consider.
3) Combination Convection/Steam Oven Purported to reheat leftovers that taste as good as they did the first time around, these pricey mini-ovens are microwave alternatives that are packed with features. Besides the obvious steam and bake, some models also have slow-cooking, food dehydrating, sterilizing, bread proofing, keep-warm, and sous-vide functions. Though they are expensive and can usually only be built-in, you get quite a lot of bang for your buck.
As for me, after a lot of hemming and some hawing, I’ve decided to go with the Miele Convection/Steam Oven, because I have a real weakness for good-looking, multi-functional products. I know there will be a learning curve, but I’m excited to try something new! Oh, and I’m hiding a cheap counter top microwave in the pantry–don’t tell the green designers!
What is your “can’t live without it” appliance?
(Clockwise, from left):
Gentleman’s Gray 2062-20, Titanium OC-49, Sea Life 2118-40, Healing Aloe 1562
As a designer, when I walk into a client’s home I have an almost immediate sense of what I want the rooms to look like. No, I don’t have some supernatural skill set, I’m just paying very close attention to the many clues a house can provide.
For example, if I’m being hired to design a kitchen, chances are I’ve passed the entry, living room, and dining room on the way there. In this brief passage from room to room, I’ve soaked up a sense of my new client’s personal taste, the home’s architecture, and sources of natural light. By the time I get to the space I’m being hired to design, I can feel whether it wants to be light and bright, mellow and natural, or dark and moody. Don’t get me wrong–it can still take a lot of work to choose the exact hue for a room, but finding the direction is pretty straight-forward.
When choosing a new paint color in your own home, I encourage you to follow my approach. It may not come as naturally to you, but I’ve broken it down into some easy steps to help you arrive at your perfect palette.
- Take a stroll through the rooms adjoining the one you’re about to paint. What colors are they? How do those colors make you feel? Do you like the colors in these rooms?
- When you get to your destination (the room you’re painting), notice how the existing color makes you feel. For example, does it feel bright and happy, or bright and antiseptic? Dark and cozy, or dark like a pit of despair? See where I’m going with this?
- As you walk around, take a look at your personal belongings. Are you all about those Wegner chairs and macrame wall-hangings? Do you have tons of colorful textiles from your many world travels? Do friends regularly comment on how “pretty” your things are?
By now you should have a sense of your own taste, whether it leans towards the bright and modern, the warm and bohemian, or the refined and elegant. With this in mind, go back to the room you want to paint–do you want to feel invigorated in this room? Go for a brighter shade of white or gray. Do you want to feel cozy and enveloped? A rich, dark shade is for you. Do you want to feel relaxed and serene? Go for a pretty neutral.
Here are my top picks of new paint colors
(all Benjamin Moore):
Bright New Paint Colors
Dark New Paint Colors
Neutral New Paint Colors
Still need help choosing a shade? Visit my Pinterest pages by color for some Pinspiration!
Do you have a favorite room? What color is it? Let us know in the comments!