Goodbye, 2018. Hello, New Year!

With less than a month left in 2018, we thought this would be a great opportunity to look at all that made this year merry and bright. It is, after all, that time of year! Take a look at the best of 2018, and get a sneak peek at what we think will be big in the New Year.

Top Posts of 2018

What was trendy in 2018, you ask? Small pools and ombre interiors, among other things. Click the links to reread this year’s best blog posts.

Small Pools

You don’t need to go Olympic-sized to have a great escape from the summer heat. These tiny pools give you relief while working with the size of your yard.

Divide & Conquer: Partition Walls

Sometimes, you want lots of space. Sometimes, you want to feel cozy. Partition walls help you have the best of both worlds.

Let There Be Skylight

Let the light shine on you.

Trend Alert: Ombre Interiors

Love them, hate them, ombre interiors made a big splash this year.

2019 Predictions 

We’re already looking ahead to 2019. This is what we think will be hot in interior design in the year to come.

Colors

Last year was all about spice: fiery Caliente and bold Ultra Violet were the top colors. This year, though, major companies are going for a more subdued, sophisticated look in their paint choices.

Behr’s top pick for the year is Blueprint S470-5, an approachable cool blue color that compliments pretty much any other color. Benjamin Moore went with Metropolitan, a stylish off-white with rich grey tones, reminiscent of Eggshell. And among Pantone’s picks for the year are Soybean – a subtle, buttery white – and Brown Granite – an earthy grey-brown tone.

The Verdict: Stick to tried-and-true neutrals for walls, carpets, and ceilings. If you’re all about that pop of color, work it in with accessories or furniture. You want you home to feel clean, calm, and modern. 

Styles 

For the last several years, mid-century modern has been king. While the clean lines and natural influences of mid-century modern will continue to be important, we think that 2019 will be a little funkier. 
If you take a look at Boho style, you’ll notice a few familiar things: clean lines, natural materials, a blend of form and function. Yes, it is a lot like mid-century modern. Where the two styles differ is in boldness. Boho favors brighter colors, fun patterns, and rich textures. Also, you can’t go Boho without at least one sheepskin piece. 
Also on the fun side – this new trend of subtle 70s style. Hello, velvet and floral patterns! 
Lots of manufacturers are looking to make more sustainable products by making changes to their materials, sourcing, and manufacturing processes. We love this eco-friendly trend; what’s good for your design scheme can also be good for the earth. 
Last but not least, more and more people are looking for their rooms, and furniture, to do double duty. Manufacturers are welcoming these desires by creating pieces that are both beautiful and multifunctional. These pieces make the best use of your space; if you’re on the tiny house trend, or if you’re just into downsizing, this trend is for you!Your coffee table doesn’t just have to hold books and drinks; it can also convert to a desk for those nights when you have to take work home. 

The Verdict: We love mid-century modern, but maybe it is time to leave in the last century.  

Accessories 

2019’s biggest accessories will be a mixture of old and new. Old: terrazzo. Yes, that 30s staple is back. Advances in manufacturing have given buyers a wider selection of looks and finishes, from positively kitschy to on-par-with-granite elegance. Also, geometric patterns, which have been a staple in the design world for many years, continue to be popular. New: artisanal fixtures. Bold metal accents, blown glass features, and hand made accessories will elevate the look of light fixtures in 2019.

The Verdict: Your options may be unlimited, but it is never a bad thing to stick with what you know. 

What do you think is going to be big in 2019? Share your opinion on our Facebook page. Include the tag #2019forecast.

Trend Alert: Black Accents

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Someone recently told me “Every room needs something black in it;” a rule that, I realized, is an inherent practice that, as a designer, I most always tend to follow. Ultimately, every room needs a bit of contrast. When a palette is becoming too monochromatic, that’s when its time to pull in the black. “Something black” could mean tile, or paint; but it can also come in the form of furniture or decor or even artwork. The subtle, yet impressive black accents in these interiors really complete the spaces.

This black fireplace adds just the right amount of depth to an otherwise light-and-airy room. Source

The black elements in the central ibis painting play off the black toilet seat and floor tile. Source

Subtle black accents on art and furniture play off this room’s dark wood flooring. Source

Black pendant lights are a great compromise of the popular all-white kitchen. Source

In a room with a busy palette, black adds elegance and refinement. Source

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Your Countertop Guide: Stone



If you’re thinking about building a kitchen in a new home, or renovating a kitchen in an existing home, there is one question that is sure to come up: what countertops should you get? There are plenty of options out there, from tried-and-true marble to high-tech quartz, each type with its own pros and cons. If you don’t want to sweat the small stuff (and who does?), it’s best to compare all three before making a decision. Here’s a breakdown of the three most popular stone countertop materials.

What are Quartz, Marble, and Granite?

Quartz, marble, and granite are all stone materials that are often used to make kitchen countertops. Marble and granite are natural stone – these are mined from a quarry, where huge pieces of stone are cut into manageable slabs, which are then further cut to fit on your kitchen countertop. Marble and granite both have beautiful, natural patterns that are unique to each piece. 
These marble countertops are unlike any other.

Quartz isn’t technically a pure stone, at least not in the form you will use for a countertop. It is mined like marble and granite, but the raw stone is they crushed into a powder then mixed with resin and pigment to create a single, smooth surface. Sometimes, it is referred to as an “engineered stone.” 

These lovely quartz countertops were the centerpiece in a recent renovation. 


Quartz vs. Marble vs. Granite

Durability

Quartz, marble, and granite are all extremely durable materials. There’s a reason stone is so often used to construct monuments and statues! They’re also all heat-resistant, which makes them great for baking. 
These marble countertops are beautiful AND perfect for breadmaking! 

Scratch Resistance


Marble is, by far, the softest of all three materials, which means that it can be scratched or chipped the most easily. Granite is the much harder than marble, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the durability and scratch-resistance of quartz. Quartz’ added resin makes it extremely hard to scratch or nick.

Natural 

To some, an engineered product like quartz is a plus – the added processes involved in creating the stone in turn makes it more durable than natural stone. But, to others, “natural” can be a sticking point. Ask yourself if you would choose laminate floors over hardwood floors. If the answer is no, marble or quartz might be the better option.
These quartz counte
rtops are beautiful but not “natural.” 

Stains & Hygiene


Granite and marble are both porous materials. This means that spilled liquids can potentially seep into the countertops, causing stains. Marble countertops are especially susceptible to stains from acidic liquids, like orange juice, coffee, or wine. Their porous nature also makes these stones more difficult to clean, which can lead to harmful bacteria and germs staying on your counters long after you want them to.  
Engineered quartz, though, is not porous. It is extremely difficult to stain, and bacteria have a much more difficult time adhering to the material’s smooth surface.

Maintenance


If you’re set on having granite or marble in your kitchen, prepare for the maintenance. Both stones need to be sealed at installation, which helps prevent stains, and about once every year for the life of the countertops. They also need to be cleaned regularly with soap and water. Beware chemical cleaning products – some can cause stains. 
Image result for quartz countertops
These quartz countertops lend natural elegance to this modern kitchen. 

Because quartz isn’t porous, it doesn’t need nearly as much maintenance. Most quartz blends can be safely cleaned with most household cleaning products.

Unique Look


Because marble and granite are natural stone, mined from deposits around the world, every slab is unique. You’ll never have to worry about walking into a friend’s kitchen and seeing the same countertops on their island.
Image result for black granite countertops
These black granite countertops give this kitchen a very modern feel. 
Quartz, on the other hand, is engineered. Although most manufacturers work hard to have a great deal of variety in quartz slabs, inevitably, some slabs will look similar. Quartz also doesn’t have quite the “natural” look that granite or marble has.

Options


While every granite and marble slab is unique, they often have a similar feel because they’re formed in a certain way and mined from only a few places in the world. And while there are many different colors and types of granite and marble available, the variety isn’t endless.

Quartz, on the other hand, can be mixed with a huge variety of pigments, giving you an endless selection of colors, hues, and vein patterns.

Value


Costs for stone materials can vary wildly from place to place and can even vary based on the time of year. However, if you want quality counters, do not cut corners.  Stone countertops aren’t inexpensive, but they are worth the investment.
On the low end of the spectrum is granite. Where the granite is sourced from, or highly-prized patterns or colors, will make this stone a little more expensive.

Quartz tends to be in the middle, price wise. For quartz, part of the cost comes down to the manufacturing process. Adding unique colors or asking for specialty veining can drive the price up even more.

But, the king of stone countertop materials is marble. Marble has long been prized for its beauty, enhanced by the subtle veining. Marble is mined at several places around the world, but Italian marble, particularly Carrara, is considered the finest. Expect to pay top dollar for marble pieces from  Italy.


So what’s the best material for your countertops?

There’s no one stone countertop material that works for all clients. What your decision often comes down to is what material works best for your major concerns.

In most markets, quartz is the most affordable option. Other perks of this engineered stone are its ease of maintenance and durability.  But it simply does not have the natural beauty and high-end look that marble, or even granite, has.

Granite is usually more expensive than quartz but less expensive than marble. It’s also more durable than marble. But the coloration might not be as consistent, and it can’t match the luxurious look of a marble slab.
In the end, marble is marble, and if you’re set on the look of marble, there’s no substitute. It might be a bit more expensive, but if you’re set on marble and it matches your kitchen or bathroom, it’s worth it for your countertop.