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Empty Nest? Tips for Downsizing

tips for downsizingYour youngest child has packed up and moved off to start his or her life as an adult, and now you’re ready to start the next phase of your own lives. That might mean entertaining more often, going out more, or trying on a new decor style. One thing is for sure, you probably  no longer want or need to hang on to the many items that fill your living space, garage, and basement.

The idea of downsizing might not sound appealing, since it can mean parting with possessions you’ve worked hard to purchase or parting with items that have sentimental value. But, it’s possible to look at the process in a positive way. You’re about to start on a new adventure, whether you’re trading your suburban home for a city apartment or simply moving to a smaller space in the same town. If you’re ready for the change that downsizing brings, here are a few tips to help you get started on your next adventure.

Parting with Possessions

One of the trickiest parts of downsizing is figuring out which items you no longer need or want. Although you might feel an emotional attachment to certain things, even if you don’t use them, it’s important to be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of items. If you’re moving from a 4,000-square-foot home into a space that’s less than 1,000-square-feet, there simply won’t be enough room in the new place for everything, or for even a fraction of what you currently own.

Start with items you never use or  have little emotional attachment to. For some people, that can be books. Take a look at your shelves. Ask yourself if you’ll ever read a book again and if you do, if you can easily check it out from the library. There’s no need to hang on to books you didn’t enjoy or that you can easily borrow. Use this line of thinking when paring down the rest of your possessions, from clothing to kitchen gear.

One way to make the process of decluttering easier is to delegate tasks. If your grown children still have old belongings at your current home, have them come over one day and sort through those items, either donating, selling, or taking the possessions home with them. Let them know that anything they leave behind will end up in the discard or donate pile.

It also helps to work with a professional designer or organizer, who doesn’t have an attachment to your possessions. A professional can sift through the items you own and help you figure out the things you’ll use in the new space and what things are just going to take up space.

Look at Your New Space

Taking a look at the layout of your new home can help you figure out what items to keep and what you no longer need. If there’s no outdoor space, for example, you won’t need to bring all of your lawn equipment. Think about how you’ll use the rooms in the home. An extra bedroom might work as a guest room, or it could turn into a study, a fitness center or that library you’ve always wanted.

Also think about what you’ll be doing in your new home. Now that the kids are grown and supporting themselves, you have more time and money for the things that really interest you. Will you have friends over regularly for cocktails or dinner parties? If so, you might want to focus on designing a truly stellar drinks and dining area. Getting rid of old possessions allows you to make room in your new space for your latest hobbies, whether they are looking at the stars through a telescope on your balcony, learning a new craft, or learning to cook a different type of cuisine.

Try a New Design

Moving to a smaller space is the perfect time to try on a new design. Where once you might have had to worry about your kids breaking fragile items or dirtying expensive furniture, now you’re really free to finally decorate your home in a way that appeals to you.

Your new home might be smaller, but that’s no reason why it can’t be your castle. If you’re ready to start downsizing and decorating your new nest, Michelle Wenitsky Interior Design can help you throughout the process, from figuring out what to keep to putting together a vibrant home design. Contact us today for more details.


The Paris Flea Market

Paris scenesPart of the joy of traveling is bringing home a memory of the trip, usually in the form of a treasure or souvenir that can’t be found anywhere else. For many people, a trip to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to the Marché aux Puces St.-Ouen de Clignancourt, or the French version of a flea market. Commonly called “Les Puces” (or, “The Fleas”) by those in the know, the market is one of the oldest and largest in the world. It dates back to the late 19th century and covers more than 700 acres. Although you can find pretty much anything at Les Puces, it can be a particularly helpful resource if you are looking for a piece that will make your home feel more unique and authentic or if you are looking for a piece that can serve as the focal point of a room’s design.

Visiting the Market

St. Ouen is open on the weekends, which in Paris means Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Keep in mind that not every vendor opens on Mondays, so if you want  the best selection, it helps to go on either a Saturday or a Sunday. The markets fill up as the day goes on. To give yourself the most time to browse and time to explore before the crowds get there, it’s a good idea to arrive just as the market opens, around 9 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday. The earlier you arrive, the more time you’ll have to hunt through the markets for the perfect treasure. The market closes at 6pm, giving you plenty of time to wander up and down the streets, looking at the different storefronts and vendors.

Find Something Special

Les Puces is actually divided into 14 different markets, and each market has a different theme. The Marche des Rues is typically full of vendors selling antiques while Marche Paul Bert Serpette features antiques, as well as newer pieces of furniture, lamps, and decorative objects.  The Marche Dauphine also has a selection of antiques mixing with vendors selling new items.

Get Inspired

It helps to visit Les Puces without a clear goal in mind. The vast selection of items available at the 14 different markets really means that you don’t know what you might find. You might stumble upon antique leather chairs or find a large antique mirror, either of which could serve as the focal point of a room you are decorating back home. You can use the general categories of each market to help give you an idea of what you might expect or to help you navigate Les Puces. For example, Marche Biron is known for its diverse selection of artwork, with pieces ranging from the 17th century through the Art Deco period. If you know that you enjoy Art Deco, it might be worth navigating your way towards Biron first and using what you see there as an inspiration for your home.

Enjoy Memories

The beauty of Les Puces is that you might not only find something to take home with you and to use to  decorate your home or as a central component in the redesign of a space, it’s that the items you find in the market can help you remember your trip to Paris. Every time you sit on an antique club chair or settee, you’ll be transported back to the day you spent combing the market, looking for the perfect piece. If you bring home a smaller item, such as an Art Deco vase, every time you look at it, you’ll be able to remember your trip. Bringing pieces from Les Puces into your home also means that you’ll be able to share your experiences in Paris with those who visit your home.

The designers at Michelle Wenitsky Interior Design have experience navigating the Marché aux Puces St.-Ouen de Clignancourt. Contact us for more details on finding inspirational pieces for your home’s design.


Artwork Adds Meaning and Intrigue to a Space

Artwork 1  The right piece of art adds interest and drama to a room and can be the center of attention in a space. Whether it’s an antique piece, a painting by an up-and-coming artist, a sculpture, or a collection of pieces, there are many ways you can use art as the foundation of a room’s design.

Can Be the Focal Point of a Room

A single piece of artwork, such as a large scale painting, can be the perfect focal point of a room, such as a formal dining room or a living room. If you would like to use one piece of art as the centerpiece of a room, the size of the artwork is an important thing to consider. It should be large enough to command attention and to immediately catch the eye when a person walks into a room. How you position the artwork matters, too. To draw people’s attention, the piece should be in the direct eye line of at least one entryway to the room. For example, you can hang a large-scale painting opposite the doorway to a room, centered so that the door itself frames the painting.

Adds Color to a Space

Art can also add a bit of color to a room that is otherwise decorated with neutral hues. A painting can feature vivid colors, such as bright orange and blue that can complement the beige colors in the rest of the space. Depending on the colors in a piece of art, the artwork can also tie together the color scheme of a room. When choosing pieces for a space, make sure that the colors in the piece work well with colors in the room. The hues don’t have to match, but they should complement each other, instead of clash.

Artwork 3Makes a Bold Statement

It’s perfectly fine to bring a large piece of art into a smaller room. In fact, larger pieces of art, such as a wall-sized painting or a sculpture that stretches from floor to ceiling, can be an excellent way to make a bold statement in a smaller space. People aren’t expecting to see a large painting on the wall in a narrow living room, for example. A large sculpture in the foyer or entryway of your home can welcome guests while it shows off your taste. Don’t be afraid to be daring!

Defines the Mood of the Room

The art you place in a room can help establish the mood of that space. Think about how you want a room to feel when you’re choosing a piece or pieces. A painting that features a lot of calming colors, such as light purples and blues, and that features relaxing, rounded shapes might be an ideal choice for the bedroom, where you want to create a calming, soothing atmosphere. A piece of art that features a lot of deep colors or that depicts a dramatic scene might be more appropriate in a more formal room, such as the dining room. If you have a room that’s reserved for fun and relaxation, such as a game room or den, artwork that features bright colors and playful shapes or scenes can help reinforce the fact that the room is meant for fun.

Art can also help you capture something in a room or can help you bring a cherished memory to your home. If you love traveling to Europe, you can hang photographs of European landmarks and well-known architecture in your office, so that you can feel transported to your vacation, even when you are hard at work. A painting of a beach scene can help you escape to the beach, even when you’re at home in your living room.Artwork 2

Tells a Story

Art can also tell a story, whether it is the story of your family and home, or the story of the pieces themselves. Since artwork is usually one-of-a-kind, you can use the piece as a jumping off point for conversations when you have friends or acquaintances over. The pieces you collect can not only decorate your home, but also let people know who you are, as you are likely to have a story about each piece you find, purchase, and collect.

If you have a piece of art that you want to work into an existing room design or are looking for the right piece to put the finishing touches on a space, Michelle Wenitsky Interior Design can help. Contact us today to get started.


Top 10 Things to Consider When Designing a Space

Whether you are redesigning an area of your home on your own or working with an Interior Designer, there’s the temptation to jump in and get started right away, without doing much research or leg work. While the excitement to get a project going might be high, it’s important to take the time to carefully consider a few things first. Knowing what you want from the space plays a big role in coming up with the best possible design for it.

1. Use

One of the most important considerations when planning a room’s design is how that space will be used. If you’re designing a bathroom, for example, you want to think about whether it will be used by an adult couple, by a family with several children or by guests only.

2. Flow

How you arrange the furniture and other objects in the space determines the flow of it. Ideally, you’ll want a space that has a gentle flow, so that things don’t seem crowded. There should be room for people to move easily among the furniture, without having the space be too sparse.

3. Light

Lighting is incredibly important when it comes to designing a space. Depending on the room, you might have an ample amount of natural light to work with, or you might have to bring in sources of artificial light. Having too much light can be just as bad as having too little light. A room that is too bright can be very uncomfortable to be in, while it’s difficult to get things done in a dimly lit room. When considering the best lighting for a space, it’s a good idea to think back to how it will be used, too.

4. Furniture

Think of the furniture needs for the space before thinking about the smaller details. How you’ll use the space plays a part in the furniture that will work in it. For example, a decent amount of seating is usually a must in a living area, while a workspace is important in a study or office. Consider the size of the furniture and how it works in the room too. You don’t need to have only small pieces in a small space, but you want to be careful not to choose too many large pieces if the room itself is small.

5. Height

Height matters when selecting furniture and when deciding where to hang artwork or wall décor. It also matters when it comes to lighting. Usually, a good rule of thumb to follow is to position things at eye level, so that people don’t have to lean back or look up to see any artwork.

6. The Amount of Stuff

Bookcases that are overflowing, pillows that cover the entire sofa, and vignettes that look more cluttered than curated — it’s possible to put too much in a space. The size of the room and how you’ll use it will give you an idea of the amount of stuff that is appropriate. A few large items are usually better then many small, inexpensive items.

7. Practicality

How practical the space is connects back to how it will be used. If you are designing a study, for example, it will make sense to place the work area by an outlet, so that any devices can be plugged in. If the space needs a lot of storage, such as a kitchen or bathroom, that should be included in the design.

8. Balance and Harmony

Everything should work together in the space, so that there’s a feeling of cohesion and connectedness. Creating balance and harmony in the space doesn’t mean that everything needs to match perfectly. It does mean that the space should feel as though it belongs with the rest of the home.

9. Mood and Atmosphere

The mood of a room can influence how a person feels when they are in it. It’s worth thinking about how you want to feel in a space before you start making any design choices. For example, deciding that you want your bedroom to have a cozy atmosphere will influence the choices you make for its design with color, fabric, and finish selections.

10. Color

The colors you choose for a space can impact its mood and atmosphere, as well as its flow, lighting, and even its use. If your goal is to create a calming room, choosing a fire engine red wall color will work against you, for example. Your color palette should be one of the first things you decide on before starting a project.
Whether you are redoing your bedroom or want to breathe new life in your living space, Michelle Wenitsky Interior Design can help you design a space that you want to live in. Contact us today to get started on your next project.

Why Any Space Needs Good Lighting

So many activities, from reading to applying makeup, just aren’t possible without a good source of light. However, lighting isn’t something many people think about when choosing a design for a space. They then end up with a room that could look great, but no one can really see it. When you’re working on a room’s design, don’t forget to think about lighting. The better the lighting in the space is, the more you’ll be able to enjoy it.

Functionality

Even in design, functionality should matter just as much as form. The right lighting in a space means that you can maximize its use. For example, if you plan on using your living room for watching TV, reading books, and entertaining guests, you’ll want to have a lighting scheme that lets you use the room to its full ability. The light shouldn’t create a glare on the TV screen, for example, nor should it be so dark in the room that it’s difficult to see printed text.
Getting the light right in other rooms of the house increases the functionality of those spaces, too. If you prepare food in the kitchen, it is helpful to have lights that are directly over the workspace, so that you can see what you are doing. If you apply makeup or style your hair in the bathroom, the lights should be towards the sides of the mirror, so that there aren’t awkward shadows on your face and so that you are able to see well enough to blend your makeup.

Highlighting

Different types of light play different roles in a room. Some lights can be used to highlight details of the space. For example, you can place lights inside a bookcase to accent vignettes or decor on the shelves, or you can place a light above large work of art to draw the eye to it. A ceiling light angled over an architectural detail or sculpture will call attention to it.

Color

The type and amount of light in a space can determine what colors work in it and which ones don’t. Hues look different under different sources of light, so it’s important to think about what types of lighting will be in a room before choosing paint colors or furniture colors. What looks to be a vibrant blue under the bright light at the paint store can turn out to be a muddy or dull color in a room with just a single overhead light, for example.

Set the Mood

How a room is lit can influence how people feel when they are in it. Harsh, fluorescent light can make a room feel uncomfortable or can give it an institutional feel.  In contrast, soft and warm light can make people feel welcome and relaxed when they are in a space. Think about how the lighting in a fast food restaurant makes you feel, compared to the soft, dim light at a fine dining establishment.

Getting the Light Right

Getting the light right depends on the space and on what you hope to do in that space. Lighting is usually divided into three types: task, general and accent. Task lighting is a must for rooms where you will be doing any type of work, whether you’re reading a book, balancing a checkbook, or dicing vegetables. Task lighting should be placed in the areas where the work will take place, such as next to a reading chair or above the kitchen counter.
The positioning of general lighting, such as a chandelier over a dining table or a row of recessed fixtures on the ceiling, draws focus to one area of the room. You might find that having your general light fixtures attached to a dimmer helps you further set the mood for the room. Accent lighting, such as dim table lamps, candles or wall sconces, add a decorative touch to the space while increasing its warmth and overall ambience.
Lighting can make or break a room. If you want to create a lighting scheme that makes the most out of your space, Michelle Wenitsky Interior Design can help. Contact us today to learn more about the basics of lighting and design.