From Christmas Wreath to Winter Wreath

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I used to hate to take down the Christmas decorations.  There was something about the glow from all the lights that I wanted to continue on forever.   But this year, I was ready to get it all cleaned up since we have so many projects going on here in the new house and putting everything away was the first step.  Of course there might be one or two gold reindeer out still out to give the Winter decor a boost.img_3133

One thing I have always struggled with was the wreath on the front door this time of year.  It is such a narrow line to have something on the door that looks Wintry but not Christmas.  But, I think I’ve got it this year!

This year for Christmas, I purchased a natural green wreath that was preserved.  I had it on the door, but from the street it looked just black.

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So, I added in some pinecones, old picks for texture and some gold balls to help reflect the light.  That did the trick.

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Here’s a view of it from further away

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To transform this wreath into a Winter Wreath, I removed the picks and balls, and I added silver and white branches.  I also had an old wreath on hand with branches that had little pieces of hard plastic on them–I assume someone thought these looked like ice crystals. So, I tore apart and added those to the wreath also.

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Voila–a Winter Wreath

Rethink your own holiday wreath before tossing it out, maybe you can extend the life of it a bit more by just simply removing some of the Christmas elements, and adding in some branches.  Either you can use branches from your own yard and just paint them.  Or, run out and grab some from a big box store because they are on sale now!

Happy New Year to all of you!

~Karen

We’ve Moved….again.

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I am so sorry that I have not been blogging.  I cannot believe that the last post  I published was in March!  I will be making an effort to update this blog more often.  I guess we need to recap what has been happening since the last time I posted.

First of all, that bathroom that I showed you in the last post ended up winning The 2016 Best Bath Contest from Susquehanna Style. What an honor!

Read the Article Here

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On a personal note, Phil & I decided that as much as we loved the house we built (that inspired this blog to begin with), we really wanted to downsize.  And this would also be an opportunity for a new project.  After house hunting for a very long time, we finally found something that checked off a lot of our boxes.  And the funny part about the new house is that it is in a neighborhood that was not even on our radar!  I will certainly post about the progress we make on the new house.  We have many ideas, and a very long wish list.

But first, I thought you might like to see one last look at the old house, empty.  Funny, with nothing in it, it really did not feel like “ours” any longer.  I must admit, I miss this kitchen very much.  But you know I am already planning my next one…emptyhouse-kitchen-1

emptyhousekitchen-2emptyhouse-kitchenemptyhouse-brkfstrmemptyhouse-fremptyhouse-officeThe above photo is my office.

emptyhouse-lremptyhouse-mbremptyhouse-guestrmThe photo below was taken on the morning we left.  The sun could not have been more beautiful in that hallway.

emptyhouse-hallwayI hope everyone is getting ready for the holidays.  We have done our best to deck the halls here.  Somewhere in this house is a box with our outdoor lights and decorations.  But we can’t find them.  This is all we have done to the outside of the new house.  The door color is wrong…the paint store did not match the color correctly.  It is supposed to have a little more orange in it to make it a warm yellow, but it is too cold out now to fix it–so we will wait for next Spring to do that!

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~Karen

Sweet Bathroom Renovation

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I thought you would enjoy some pictures of a bathroom project that was recently completed for a client. The house is a 1920’s home in Hershey, the Sweetest Place on Earth. We wanted to marry the new materials and modern amenities, such as large shower and double vanity with the home’s history and architecture. I think this turned out fantastic.

The mosaic floor is such a great focal point in the room.  We used this same hex shape on the shower floor, but in a small black tile, and notice the hardware on the vanity–hex knobs.  The subway tile is not flat, but rather it has a wavy texture to it, really giving a nod to the period of this home.  The mirrors are framed in an un-lacquered brass. The lighting is fun, with the red cords.  We needed to make the space a little fun, it is the bathroom used by the clients’ young boys.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

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FullSizeRender 10IMG_8047 2~Karen

Can We Talk…About the Budget?

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Nobody likes to talk about “The Budget”.  I think clients are afraid of revealing what they are willing to spend on a project because they are afraid we will just spend it all. While this might end up being true, the reason we ask this question is that we need to know what we can buy for your project. It is our job to get you the best product for your budget.   If you have $4,000 to spend on a sofa, but you tell us you have less than $1,000–we may shop at Ikea for your sofa.  It may look nice when it arrives, but you will be receiving something that is not the quality that you imagined.  Be honest with your designer!  Even the client who says, “I can do $4,000 but will be happier if we keep it around $2,500” will end up having a better experience.   Of course, if your budget is $1,000 for a sofa–we will make that budget work!

Sometimes a client won’t answer the question about their budget, but will say, “I don’t know, show us what you want to do and we’ll see if we want to pay for that”  (We’ve heard that a lot.)  This puts us in a bit of a bind–we may end up spending hours searching for products.  After we present the options to the client, they  tell us that they love it, but it is not in their price range. Unfortunately, we still need to bill the client for those design hours spent researching.   So, when you are asked by your designer what your budget is, just answer the question to the best of your ability.

We can do something with most budgets, but the results will be completely different for each one.  Be careful when comparing the different levels.  Remember to compare apples to apples when comparing products. Below are three examples, Medium, Med-High and Low budgets.  The West Elm sofa, the Lee Industries Sofa, sold at Crate & Barrel, and the Ikea sofa are all velvet sofas, but they are different price points and very different quality levels.  The old saying is true: “You Get What You Pay For”.  If a client has a low budget for the space we are doing, and wants it completely furnished, we cannot suggest the Crate & Barrel sofa for the project even though it’s the better sofa.  We will need to use a sofa that is more budget-friendly for the client.

Here are three Design Boards in the different price ranges.

Medium Range

The Medium budget items are from Pottery Barn and West Elm.

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Medium-High Range

The Med-High is a mix of middle & high-range custom and trade-only items.  The trade-only pieces are what will set your design apart from other rooms. It is very important to remember that the “Med-High” can escalate quickly and can become tight if the client is looking for high-end antiques & upholstery, etc.


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Low Budget

The low budget is based on pieces from Ikea.

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**Items not in this chart include wallpaper, paint, installation, shipping, labor (electrician, painters, carpenters), special treatments on furnishings, etc. all of which can add thousands of dollars more.

When a client tells us the budget, we aren’t judgmental.  There’s a lot of thought that goes into how we can get them the best room for the money available.  At times a client will tell us they want high quality, a quick timeframe, on a small budget.   We have to be honest and explain to them that for the amount of money they are allowing, they’re not going to be happy with what products we will be using to stay within their budget and timeframe.  It’s The Golden Triangle at work.

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Part of our job is to educate clients, and I feel that is what we do in these situations.   In these cases, we typically recommend that we create an entire plan that the client will be happy with and one that can be implement in phases.

In my own home, we are able to do things for less by going to consignment stores, flea markets and by sourcing on Craigslist. We also do everything ourselves, we want a certain level of quality with our items, and we are usually not on a tight timeline.  We are able to save money but it takes a lot of time.  If we do this for a client, the amount of money they would have had to pay us for our time to find an item at a consignment store or auction, pick it up, and have it repainted or reupholstered would have considerably increased the cost and possibly make the item not even worth it.

We like to use vintage items to stretch a budget and add personality to the project.  If you are willing to do projects yourself and shop for vintage pieces yourself,  you can really stretch your budget.  If you don’t like to do these things yourself, paying a designer to do it isn’t necessarily going to save you any money because you will be billed your designer’s fee, but it is going to give you the mix of old-and-new. The results are going to be great, and you will end up with a space that is uniquely yours.   It’s a valuable service and worth paying for.  Our clients are always happy when we use a good vintage find for them.  It’s something that they never would have chosen or found themselves, and yet it is the item that makes the room special!

What do you think about talking about budgets? Are you a straight shooter, or do you dance around the topic when the designer is asking?  Just remember, they only want to help you get the most for your money.

~Karen

Insta-Tszuj!!

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Just updated our website! We are now offering a really fun new service:

INSTA-TSZUJ 

We are so excited to announce the launch of our newest service.  You can spend 8 hours with one of our designers and a design-assistant shopping and making your home go from nice to FAH-BU-LOUSSS!

Check out all the details here!

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So, what are you waiting for?

Let’s Get Tszujing!

~Karen

New Year’s Eve Sparkling Dinner Table

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New Years Eve Table

(image via settingforfour.com)

Now that Christmas is over, and it is time to start thinking about the New Year ahead, I thought it was time for me to get back from my long break from blogging.  I’ve been busy working on building my business over this past year and I’m happy to say that it was a wonderful year.  Just to update you on what happened this year…

I’ve hired a Design Assistant, her name is Kari.  She has been such a great addition to the office.  You may find yourself interacting with her if you reach out to the business for any questions.  She keeps me focused, and organized!

Another new addition to the office is our Intern, Lexa.  She is a high school senior, who  will be heading off to Drexel next Fall to study Fashion Design.  Lexa is in the office every day, so you may also find yourself interacting with her.

Phil & I traveled to High Point Furniture Market twice this year, Spring and Fall.  We went with a dear friend and fellow-designer, Kate FitzGerald-Wilks and her husband. We attended a few seminars, had the opportunity to see new products, and visit with many of the Industry’s Tastemakers and hear what we should expect to be seeing soon. It is so important in this business to stay on top of what the trends are so that we can lead our clients in the right direction.  Nobody wants to hire someone who is doing outdated styles.  While there I opened up accounts with many “To-The-Trade-Only” vendors, which allows me to offer unique items to my clients now.   I’ll be traveling with Kari to Atlanta in January for the Winter Market and to attend the Super Design Camp, an intensive 2-day seminar, which will allow us to become even more motivated for 2016!

As most of you know, I participated in my 2nd Designer Show House this past Spring.  It was a fund raiser for the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.  I was lucky enough to design the Master Bedroom and the attached sunporch. The show ran for 3 weeks and we had about 5,000 visitors.

So many people have reached out to me lately because I have not been blogging, or posting on my Facebook page lately.  I’m here to tell you, all is well, I’m hoping to be back here more regularly in 2016.  I can always be found on Instagram.  It has certainly turned into one of my favorite social media outlets.  If you are on Instagram, please look for me here!  If you are not on Instagram because you are worried about privacy, don’t be–you can make your account private.

Another change this year is that we have been using a software package with clients.  It is an e-design studio which has allowed us to interact with clients who are both local and any that are remotely located.  It has been such a huge help to us, making us much more efficient with our clients and their projects.

Now, back to the title of this post…

“New Year’s Eve Sparking Dinner Table”

I am also ready to start offering something new on the e-deisgn site.  I’m going to be offering “Packages”, so that if someone wants to “get this look”, they will be able to do so just by following the links provided.  My first Package that I have launched is a “New Year’s Eve Sparkling Table”.  Feel free to take a look.  This one is priced at $0, you just need to enter your information when you click the “Purchase” button, the information is just for me so I know who has stopped by.

Finally, as I was walking back from the mailbox on Christmas Eve with a couple of more Christmas cards from clients in my hand, I realized that I have been blessed with the best clients.  So many clients have become wonderful new friends this year. I cannot wait to see what 2016 has in store for us.

Wishing you a Wonderful New Year.

~Karen

Bernhardt Kensington Bed ON SALE!!

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The bed did not find a home during the Harrisburg Symphony Showhouse.

This bed’s suggested MSRP is $10,000.

For a limited time, I’m offering this bed for $4,000.  Extra incentive if you pick it up before Sunday, June 21st.

For details about this gorgeous beauty, click on Bernhardt’s website, here.

Please email me if you are interested.

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~Karen

karen@karenviscito.com

What Color Cabinets to Pair with Marble Counters?

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Are you thinking about using marble counters in your kitchen? Add a twist by painting your cabinets something other than white. A lot of colors work really well with marble. I am loving gray cabinets, with unlacquered brass hardware. Even more interesting, combing dark gray lower cabinets with lighter gray or white upper cabinets.

gray lowers white uppers brassImage via Pinterest

If you are feeling brave, maybe paint the lowers in a bold color.  Dark Blue? How about Emerald Green?

Blue cabinet with brass & marblePhoto from Design Indulgence blog

Andrea's Kitchen

Photo from a Sarah Richardson kitchen

Looks like I’m going to have to do a kitchen with Emerald Green painted lowers, white uppers, marble counters and brass hardware because I can’t find any pictures to post! Anybody need a new kitchen?

Don’t be afraid of marble either.  If you love it and want it and can embrace the fact that it will change over time, then of course, Go For It!!  Europeans have been using marble for counters forever. They just get better and better.  It’s called patina

I suggest having your marble honed and sealed. This way any etching won’t be as noticeable, and yet you will still have the protection from the sealer to prevent against stains.  The best sealer on the market,  is not offered by every fabricator, so make sure to do your homework.

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CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT PROADVANCED

If you need help with your coordinating your kitchen selections, please feel free to reach out to me.  Especially if you want to do that Emerald Green kitchen I’m dreaming about.

~Karen

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Harrisburg Symphony Showhouse, The 2nd Floor Sun Porch

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I promised I would share with you the other room I designed for the 2015 Symphony Showhouse.

The 2nd Floor Sun Porch

HSO Sunporch from outside(photo by Sean Simmers, Pennlive)

This space is attached to the Master Bedroom.

Viscito_7880_Final_WebRes(Photo by Donovan Roberts Witmer)

I felt that I needed to create a space where my “client” would relax, enjoy his coffee and paper in the morning, or a cocktail in the evening.

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I continued the use of purple in this space, but I added my favorite apple green to the mix.  And small touches of orange.

HSO Sunporch Zebra(photo by Sean Simmers, Pennlive)

Viscito__DRW7003_WebRes(Photo by Donovan Roberts Witmer)

Enjoy the photos, and of course, let me know if you are planning on attending the showhouse, I would love to meet you there and say hi in person!

~Karen

Harrisburg Symphony Showhouse 2015

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Apologies for the absence.  I have been swamped for the last few months working with clients, and designing and installing two spaces at the Harrisburg Symphony Showhouse.

The Showhouse is now OPEN!!!

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The house is beautiful, inside and out.

As you may (or may not) recall, I was given the task to design the master bedroom and the attached sun porch.  The first step was to “design” my “client”.  My client is a well traveled gentlemen who loves to surround himself with things from his travels.  He is not one to have a man-cave in the basement filled with oversized recliners, Bud on tap, and logos of football teams hanging on the wall.  He is just too cool for that. After much thought I wanted to do a “man-glam” room.

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The walls are covered in a wallpaper from York Wallcoverings that has everyone talking…

“is it paper cut into squares?”

“is it wallpaper?”

  “is it a paint treatment?”

“is it onyx?”

MDC 977 Ashanti Shadows

After a bit of convincing the visitors understand that indeed, it is wallpaper. I chose a purple colorway of this pattern because it really needed to be WOW. And besides, my “client’s” favorite color is purple.

I also used paper-backed fabric from Robert Allen Design over the fireplace. This allows for another layer of texture.  Did you know you can now order any of their fabric with paper on the back? If you are interested in this, please contact me and I will get you the information.

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The crown jewel in the room is without a doubt, the bed. It is a king-size brass four poster bed from Bernhardt.  It is stunning.

Bernhardt KensingtonI wanted to keep the bed simple, and masculine, so only 3 box shams were used, along with a 72″ neck roll pillow, covered with a velvet snake-skin fabric that glistens. Hard not to touch that pillow.

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I’ve covered the entire wall behind the bed in fabric panels, in a gold snakeskin pattern. This creates a great backdrop to the bed.

All of the fabrics in the room are from Robert Allen Design.  It was such a pleasure partnering with them for this project.  Their generosity was incredible.

The nightstands are 2 chests that are covered in Robert Allen’s fabric as well.  Just one more way to bring in the textures.

Another favorite item in the room is the freshly painted vintage buffet.  I had a piece of mirror cut and installed on the top, just to add the extra pizzaz that my “client” wanted.

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As much as I would like to share with you a great shot of the entire room, you know I just can’t do that!  I want you to come see it in person! But here is a taste of what you can expect:

Waterlogue 1.1.4 (1.1.4) Preset Style = Bold Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = High Contrast Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium Options Faces = Enhance Faces

 

Waterlogue 1.1.4 (1.1.4) Preset Style = Bold Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Heavy Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = High Contrast Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Average Brush = Fine Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Medium Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Medium Options Faces = Enhance Faces

Next time…the Sun Porch!

~Karen