Specifying Great Flooring For Your Home

There are several major concepts that professional interior designers consider when engineering a flooring system for clients. We examine the client’s use of each space, the relationship to the spaces around it, the floor direction, pattern, rhythm, balance, color, texture and sheen all provide a portal through which designers can determine what is appropriate for the home.  We also closely examine the floor construction, function and appearance.

Proper flooring always begins with excellent sub-floor construction. This is truly the most critical aspect of any finished floor. Floor construction found in most residential structures are generally wood sub-floors. Wood sub-floors are comprised of several structural elements. Usually built over a crawl space or basement, and supported by the foundation walls, support beams, joists or trusses, a sub-floor and a finished floor compose the basic flooring system. Typically 1/2” thick plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) is currently used as the first layer for sub floors by typical builders. We actually prefer ¾” thick plywood covered again by a specialty 3/8” thick multi-ply which is laid in a perpendicular direction to the first sub-floor layer, glued and screwed every six inches. This method insures that all surfaces are adhered to one another securely, stiffens the sub-floor, prevents squeaks, keeps floor heights to a minimum and gives the final installer a smooth and clean surface for installation of the top treatment.

Your designers evaluate the finished flooring treatments in two major categories: hard surface flooring materials and soft surface floor coverings.

Hard surface flooring materials are thought of as elements which are structurally part of the floor and are usually more permanent than soft floor coverings. Materials commonly used include wood, ceramic and porcelain tile, concrete and masonry. Wood is a natural choice for many homeowners as it provides a look and feeling they desire. A multitude of wood species exists, and your designers base specifications on several factors including the hardness and durability. Ceramic and porcelain differ not only in material make-up but in the kiln firing process. Porcelain is made of a more dense clay and fired at high heats to increase its durability and provides “through-body” color, unlike ceramic which is fired at lower heats and has color applied to the top surface only. We obviously prefer through-body color porcelain flooring over ceramics. Masonry or concrete floors are typically used on garage floors with specialty coatings or polishing available but modern homeowners are bringing this surface inside the house on floors and countertops these days.

Soft surface floor coverings play a large and important role in design today. Even though they can be changed more often than hard installed flooring materials, they can last for years, can be purchased on a smaller budget but still should be chosen with great care. Carpet is the most popular soft covering and is attached directly to the sub-floor, generally covering an entire room from wall to wall. Conversely, area rugs are not fastened to the floor and do not cover the entire floor. Carpet characteristics are defined by its fiber content, construction, texture, density and the type of padding placed underneath. Today, 90% of the world’s carpeting is made from synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, olefin and our favorite, nylon. For durability and longevity, wool is a fabulous carpet and area rug fiber, but is the most expensive of the fiber choices. Other soft floor coverings include resilient floor coverings which are generally smooth materials and are sold in either sheet goods or tile formats. Sheet goods formats are especially desirable when a seamless floor is necessary for areas that receive a lot of spills. Examples of resilient flooring include cork, vinyl, linoleum, or rubber flooring in an exercise room.

There are key functional considerations when choosing your finished flooring which your designer can assist. Comfort, traffic, dirt and moisture all play a part in proper specifications.

The appearance of your floor will convey different moods and evoke various emotions from occupants and visitors. Certain types of flooring blend better with some styles of décor than others. Flooring helps unify and harmonize all other elements within a space. It should flow with the color palette, pattern, style and formality within a room. It should also relate to the spaces adjacent to it. Bold and dominant colors and patterns become a focal point in rooms with minimal and sparse furnishings. Simpler, more subdued patterns and colors should be balanced with more dominant furnishings or accessories. The type of floor covering used can convey a warm or cool feeling. Smooth treatments generate a cool atmosphere while more textured treatments generate a felling of warmth.

Great flooring is one of the most expensive and costly investments any homeowner will make because of the prep work and volume of flooring it takes to finish a home. It is therefore imperative to make excellent decisions when choosing flooring for your home. Beautiful flooring defines spaces, supports the furnishings and creates a strong design backdrop for the entire home. Your floor will ultimately determine the final design and look of your space for years to come.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Decorating with Flat Panel Televisions

The typical American household has the television running an amazing seven hours per day. As a professional residential interior designer, I am always responsible for investigating my client’s lifestyle and viewing habits and determining prominence and the placement of the television in their interior environments.

Not only does placement matter, but the installation of the flat panel TV integrated within a built-in or inside a furniture piece can be very tricky. Clients also like the clean look of wall mount flat televisions these days, but you then must consider the wiring and location to other critical components that drive the TV picture and sound such as the high definition DVR source box, the sound receiver, a BluRay DVD player, a computer and the like. If you choose to hang the TV on a wall, these components have to end up somewhere else, and not necessarily near the television.

With prices falling and more consumers purchasing flat panel televisions every day, these devices are having a tremendous impact in the interior design of our homes. Proper flat screen television specification and placement always begins within a great space plan for the room.

Create a Multipurpose Space Plan for Family Rooms

The real interior design tricks lie in how to purpose the space for comfortable and convenient viewing while allowing the room to function and serve other purposes as well. The absolute best way to do this within casual living spaces is to create a flexible seating plan that allows for TV viewing, but also for other activities when the TV is off. The worst space plan is having the television become the only focal point in the room where people just watch and not interact.

One idea is to keep the TV at a 90-degree angle to the primary window wall. This allows everyone to look out and enjoy the views and helps cut down on screen glare during sunny days. Sizing the proper TV to the room also helps. The general rule here is the viewing distance from seating to the TV is roughly two to three times the screen’s diagonal measurement. So a 40 inch screen is best viewed from 7 to 10 feet away.

Space planning should also consider the acoustics of the room. Many of today’s television viewing areas include a good quality surround sound system, now produced in 7 channels. Too much carpeting, upholstery and drapery textiles will absord the treble from the music, but can help offset the rumbling bass effects from movies. You need to balance this out by perhaps using wood floors and area rugs instead of broadloom wall-to-wall carpeting, and avoiding heavy draperies on every window.

When you are trying to create a multipurpose room, lighting also plays a key component. You should install dimmers for movie watching that also provide soft lighting for entertaining, and ample task lighting for reading. Recessed can lighting on dimmers in the ceiling, decorative reading lamps near every seat and accent lighting around the perimeter to highlight artwork and wall wash cabinetry works very well and creates a flexible atmosphere for all activities in the space.

Wall Mount It or Hide It?

Our old picture tube style and rear projection televisions took up an astronomical amount of floor space, usually within or on top of some type of cabinetry. Flat panel televisions are actually attractive even when not in use, so they do not necessarily have to be hidden inside some sort of expensive built-in or furniture piece. Wall mounting the TV in a thoughtful location and deleting all media storage furniture can create a cleaner aesthetic and free up money to bring in a professional A/V service for proper installation.

Ray Rice, President of Digital Sight and Sound, a Carmel, Indiana based professional A/V integrator states “Furniture pieces and built-ins are more difficult and time-consuming to wire to A/V equipment. It is much simpler to wire a remote rack of equipment to drive your television viewing experience. Obviously it is easier to prewire a new home during construction, but existing homes can more easily be accommodated as well these days.”

Other installation options include combining focal points of the television over a fireplace but there are very special considerations in doing so. You can also purchase more shallow furniture to hide the TV if your family always migrates to it and you want to hide it away from temptation. The furniture industry has responded with narrow lift systems inside attractive cabinets to allow you to lower the TV when not in use, which is especially useful at the foot of a bed. New furniture pieces also include low cabinets to allow the flat panel television to sit on top, with the A/V components neatly tucked away inside the cabinet.

Another huge impact of component space planning is the integration of the personal home computer and the television. Controlling the whole house via your iPhone and the internet is also a reality which requires additional equipment. Designing around all these components can be daunting, so consulting a team including a professional interior designer and A/V expert will always yield best results now and for the future of your home.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Specify Color Last, But Not Least

Of all of the design elements, color is the most vital and expressive. Without color, our sense of self, our homes, fashion, automobiles and internet would be a vast colorless void. It is for this reason professional interior designers are required to possess a thorough knowledge of color history, color theory, color schemes and applications when planning interior environments.

The History of Color

Since early humans first began to draw images and markings on cave walls by crushing earth and other natural materials like vegetable and insect matter to produce colors, man has used color to adorn his surroundings. The Egyptians were the first to really appreciate the full impact of color by crushing minerals such as hematite (red), orpiment (yellow), malachite (green) and cobalt (blue) to detail their interiors such as columns and wall frescos. Roman interiors were highly decorated with bold color covering the majority of interior surfaces. Murals found in Pompeii were even more sophisticated in the use of pigments to make color that produced softer tones that worked more harmoniously together. Over the centuries, new pigments and mediums were used as technology developed to mix and apply color to interiors, decorative arts and all products. Today we easily live with color and its availability, allowing us to flow with color trends and fashion, with an emphasis on the quality and texture of modern colors.

Color Theory

The definition of color theory for the visual arts is an explanation of specific color combinations and the mixing of color itself. This theory dates back to the 15th century, with Leonardo DaVinci writing about it amongst others. Sir Isaac Newton was the first to understand the rainbow by refracting white light through a prism and breaking it into its component colors. It was Newton who developed the color wheel, with which most everyone is familiar. The wheel is a circular diagram that groups colors together that both harmonize and clash with one another. Colors are broken down by primary, secondary and tertiary hues to further organize how color is mixed to create others.

The Human Physiology of Color

Our human physiology in the perception of color lies with each human’s distinct response by the receptors, or cones, in our retinas. Each of us sees color differently based on the brain’s conversion of light emitted from an object. For example, on person’s vision of the hue “beige” might be another’s “peach”, based on the light into the eye’s cones and our individual brain conversion. We all react differently to the same color due to previous experiences and behaviors as well.

Color affects our moods and feelings, affects the perception of weight, size and even temperature. Color can create an atmosphere of calmness, or evoke stimulation and liveliness. Color cannot only reflect our personality but also our multi-cultural diversity. Color has many different meanings from one society to the next, and has a variety of effects on our psychology as well. The follow are examples of color and their proven psychological effects:

  • RED – danger, passion, love, excitement, anger, fire and strength
  • YELLOW – sunlight, warmth, optimism and enhances communication
  • ORANGE – cheerfulness, sunset, stimulation
  • BLUE – honesty, truth, formality, loyalty, masculinity
  • GREEN – nature, serenity, hope, envy, peace, security, hope
  • VIOLET – royalty, power, drama, mystery, worship
  • WHITE – purity, cleanliness, sterility, freshness
  • BLACK – mourning, sorrow, sophistication, magic, night
  • GRAY – storm, intelligence, wisdom, business, high-tech
  • BROWN – earth, wood, comfort, support, stability

Color Schemes

Organizing color theory into color schemes for today’s interiors is both challenging and satisfying. Color combinations are endless; your interior designer should explore and cater to your individual color scheme preferences. Great rooms are professionally designed with one of the following five color schemes:

  • ACHROMATIC color schemes are created utilizing black, white and/or variations of gray. There is no identifiable hue, only values [hue = name of the color, value = lightness or darkness of the hue]. Designers specify accent colors in art, accessories, textiles or foliage to enhance and contrast against this color scheme.
  • MONOTONE color schemes are created from a color with low intensity or saturation of pure color. Typically, these are characterized by neutralized colors, which fall half way between warm and cool colors. Monotone colors include hues like beige, creams and tans. These neutral schemes are applied to sophisticated and relaxed interiors where accent colors in a stronger chroma can be applied to smaller furnishings and artwork for added visual interest.
  • MONOCHROMATIC color schemes are developed from a single hue with a range of values and degrees of intensity. The variety in this scheme comes from applying lighter neutralized tones for large wall areas, deeper tones for flooring materials, medium tones for primary or large furniture and vivid tones on accent pieces. Designers enhance this scheme use of pattern and texture from fabrics, wood, stone, metal or glass. Injecting black or white elements sharpen the look and add interest.
  • ANALOGOUS color schemes are derived from using colors side-by-side on the color wheel but no more than half the colors on the wheel. For example, yellow, yellow-orange, orange and red could be a potential analogous color scheme. Harmony is best established because generally, one dominant color is present. The best effect is where a great variety of values and intensities of the hues are employed.
  • COMPLIMENTARY color schemes or contrasting color schemes are used widely because of the amount of variety offered in the scheme combinations. Hues for this scheme are chosen from opposite points on the color wheel. These schemes always contain both warm and cool colors. Designers always make one hue dominant because equal amounts create an unpleasant atmosphere in the space.

Application Tips for Paint and Color

As a professional interior designer, the wonderful chance to apply color in my projects comes in many forms. Applications range from fabrics, furniture finishes, artwork, accessories, lighting, flooring, cabinetry, countertops, appliances, tile work; the list goes on and on. Of course, walls, ceiling and trim are obvious outlets for a designer and homeowner to express color with the least expensive interior magic: paint.

Today’s paint market is wider and more dynamic than ever. With alkyds quickly being replaced by latex based acrylics and many paints being reformulated for environmental concerns, it makes for a dizzying array of choices for the consumer.

A few of my best tips for choosing paint bases include:

  • Buy the best paint you can afford. Go with top of the line products from proven companies like Porter and Benjamin Moore for best results and a happier painter.
  • Carefully consider sheens when specifying paint. The higher the gloss, the more durable the paint. Woodwork gets repainted the least often, so use a minimum of semi-gloss or full gloss products. I still recommend a classic sheen scheme because it still works: Flat ceilings, Egg Shell walls and Semi-Gloss Trim.
  • The best finished paint job always starts with the substrate condition and careful preparations of all surfaces. Correct primers must still be used in most all cases.
  • Leverage paint representatives and interior designers for expert recommendations.

A few of my best tips for applying color in residential interiors include:

  • Try tinted ceilings – it’s not all about white ceilings anymore even in traditional environments
  • Create single accents walls in bold or deep color to draw you in or anchor a wall in a space
  • Use darker colors in bedrooms to convey serenity, and keep baths light for function
  • In contemporary environments, consider painting walls, trim and ceilings in the same color for the cleanest backdrops

Don’t Follow Trendy Colors

Color trends are everywhere around us. Shelter magazines, paint stores, home stores and color marketing groups all offer us advice on the latest and greatest color trends. Color actually sells products these days and is big business, so there will always be someone telling you what trendy color to buy next. While some pre-selected color palettes are appealing and work for people with no eye for color, there is much more to be said for self expression in your home environment. Consider hiring a professional interior designer to help you identify and apply your own favorite colors to your spaces for a more custom, tailored approach you will enjoy for years to come.

Color is Last, But Not Least

My very best tip for paint color: Make it the very last specification for a space.

I often get asked by clients to call paint colors early in the project when creating their custom design plans, so they can knock out the backdrop painting early on. Color should be inspired by all other materials in the space, and the room should be completely designed first. When I specify interior colors, I pay particular attention to hard installed merchandise that will not change quickly like floors, cabinets, and the like to marry color best. Loose materials such as textiles, artwork or even a great rug may also become the final inspiration for paint colors. The point is to design the room completely, get samples of all materials then lay it out with a fan deck and your favorite designer on hand. You will be glad you did.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Control Your Clutter with Home Storage Solutions

As a professional interior designer, I often hear complaints from our clients about problems with clutter and the lack of storage space in our homes today. Several studies have indicated living in a cluttered home can create constant low-grade stress and subtly but steadily drain your energy.

Being in a space characterized by order, tranquility, and a physical manifestation of your tastes, on the other hand, can soothe you and help release stress. Coming home to an orderly home can help you feel like you’re entering a sanctuary away from the pressures of the outside world and create a more beautiful existence for you and your family.

An organized home can save time, money and other resources too. A messy, disorganized home can cost you more than just your inner peace. If you don’t have a ‘home’ for all of your belongings, you spend more time trying to put things away when you’re cleaning up, and waste time looking for items when you need them. There are many other ways your clutter may be draining your resources that you don’t even realize.

While the cost of real estate and energy continue to impact many American’s lives, the need for proper design of lovely and functional, smaller homes is greater than ever. With smaller spaces come larger demands on functional storage and the necessity to stay organized.

Beautiful Furniture Creates Storage

One of the quickest and most fabulous ways to create storage for the home is to purchase beautiful multi-use furniture pieces. From buffets to drum tables, from ottomans to bookcases, the industry has responded to consumer’s taste for functional and attractive storage pieces. Media cabinets and home office furniture has made tremendous inroads and improvements with many styles and finishes from which to specify. The possibilities are limitless, and a professional interior designer has access to pieces which the public will never see in retail furniture stores or online.

Built-Ins Add Value

Another very attractive and value-added storage solution for the home is custom built-in cabinetry. An attractive armoire can be a nice focal point in a room, but sometimes you want your storage to blend into the room and look like a part of the house itself. Built-in cabinetry allows you to achieve this look. Some of the advantages of built-in furniture include:

  • Built-ins provide storage in plain sight.
  • Built-ins blend in instead of stand out from the interior of your home allowing you to have other focal points such as art or a view. An armoire which sits against a wall and projects 24″ may very well appear “bulkier” than a somewhat shallower cabinet that is fitted to the entire wall.
  • Built-ins can provide large quantities of storage because they can use an entire wall without overwhelming the look of the room.
  • Built-ins can provide more efficient storage because they can be tailored to fit specific needs. Old stereo equipment was often 18-19″ deep and so with space for cables, backs and doors, one had to build cabinets 22-24″ deep. Now, it’s not uncommon for equipment to be less than 12″ deep, and flat-screen displays are the norm. As a result, you can built very effective cabinets that are only 16-18″ deep.
  • The trim (millwork) in your house can be coordinated with the cabinets and crown or base moldings can run right across the cabinets.
  • Custom finishes and door styles can be coordinated to your home and make a design statement
  • Lighting can also be easily integrated into your built-in cabinet.

Before deciding on your built-ins, we always suggest books, magazines and internet research to our clients.  Here are some things to think about:

  • What are you going to store? There are some wonderful interior cabinet parts for audio/visual equipment, but you need to know the sizes before you decide on the cabinets. A/V equipment is going to require planning for cabling and ventilation, as well as access.
  • What are the materials in your house? Do you have hardwood floors? Are your interior doors stained or painted? You want to use finishes that are already in your house to help your cabinets feel natural and coordinated.
  • Using the materials in your house, which of those materials are going to achieve your goals? A full wall of dark oak cabinets is going to look more massive than birch or white cabinets.
  • Are the built-ins going into a larger or smaller room? A big room can take a full wall of bookcases, but a smaller room would be better served to have the mass broken up with a possible combination of cabinets and furniture. Open shelves will give more depth to a wall of storage, but will also appear more cluttered. Glass or frosted glass doors may be an appropriate compromise. Varying the depth and height of the cabinets can go a long way towards balancing the overall look.

There are many local cabinet builders that can bid on your project once you and your interior designer decide on the look and basic design. A designer will always find or create an exact door style, obtain a finish sample, draw custom cabinets in AutoCAD and review them with your cabinet builders to ensure you achieve well-coordinated and premium results.

Modular Closets Adapt Through Time

Another great way to create storage in the home is by leveraging well designed modular closet systems. A professionally designed and installed closet can create up to three times more storage than typical builder-installed entry level wire shelving. This type of system is adjustable to meet your ongoing needs, meaning shelving, drawers or hanging spaces can be added or subtracted over time.

Great modular closet systems come in a variety of base materials like laminates or hardwoods. Each option will look and be priced differently. The most popular systems now have a variety of attractive finishes and optional accessories. Locking jewelry drawers, sock drawer dividers, belt and tie racks, pull out wire laundry baskets and beautiful hardware all complete the look and further function of the system.

Make sure to select a reputable company for modular closet systems. Many firms got into the business in the past as their popularity grew with consumers, only to turn around and go out of business. The better companies have showrooms you can visit to gain ideas. The process should include a free design consultation in your home to assess your materials and spaces. A closet designer should provide you a complete set of drawings, finish samples and a quotation. A great closet company will employ installers who respect you and your home. An interior designer can direct you to the best firms from which to obtain bids and oversee the design process to make the most of these systems.

Modular garage storage systems are also gaining in popularity as the garage is a very important storage area for the home. Again select a reputable firm as your vendor, because as your needs change you want your company to be there to help you adjust the systems to meet your changing needs.

Professionals Can Control Clutter

There are individuals specializing in just organizing spaces. This is still an emerging industry with many providers having short histories. Professional organizers now have an industry association with training classes and ethical standards. Do your homework when hiring these types of service providers.

If all else fails, bring in an interior designer. An educated and experienced interior designer can certainly consult and solve home clutter issues. Your interior designer can specify unique furniture, create and source built-in and modular closets, plus provide other creative storage solutions. You’ll never regret investing in good design to bring organization and tranquility to your interior spaces.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Trends in Kitchen and Bath Design

Design trends are constantly bombarding us all, whether in print media, television advertisements or on home improvement cable shows. It’s no matter if the final look desired is an authentic French Country kitchen or a sleek Euro-modern bath, it is wise to keep an eye on these national and international trends for both inspiration and function.  It is also recommended to consult with a professional interior designer to navigate the myriad of trends and choices to be made when remodeling a kitchen, bathroom or any other space in your home. Here are some fresh ideas to give you our best thoughts on trends in kitchen and bathroom interior design.

  • The Living Kitchen The living room is gone, replaced by the kitchen based on foot traffic and time spent together in households. The concepts here revolve around great prep space, a casual dining area and room for everyone to interact during food preparation. The throwback main sink under the window so Mom can clean dishes and watch the kids in the yard has been replaced by the cook being the most important person with sinks and cooktops in islands so they can see and be seen by everyone. Move over living room – the living kitchen is here to stay!
  • Keep it Simple  We are seeing a movement to simplify designs by selecting cabinetry style with clean, simple lines such as Shaker or slab doors as opposed to the more heavily ornamented kitchens with lots of ornate corbels, dentil moldings or other wood and applied carvings. Indiana clients still enjoy traditional kitchens, but clean, transistional lines even in traditional Hoosier kitchens are definitely more apparent.
  • Mixing and Matching  Kitchens are showing tasteful, simplified cabinet styling along with creamy whites, pastel colors, metallics, painted, stained, glazed or combination finishes (i.e. painted and glazed). Distressed and rubbed woods remain in vogue as well. We see heavy traditional styling on the outer perimeter of kitchens combined with a contrasting heirloom furniture-like island versus modern kitchens utilizing a combination of wood stains and painted finishes. The bottom line is clients have such a huge array of choices today it is really wise to enlist the services of a competent designer because too many or improperly applied finishes can ruin any space.
  • Free Style  Because we are spending more time in our kitchens and baths, there is a movement away from the all-or-nothing “fitted” look of hard-installed cabinets and countertops everywhere, to more freestanding or furniture-like pieces such as cabriole legs holding up a countertop, or a stainless steel restaurant table on casters used as an island in a modern kitchen. Another example in a traditional interior is the use of a furniture piece like a chest or commode properly altered as a lavatory sink base cabinet in a powder bath. These details further the notion that kitchens and baths aren’t just for utilitarian cooking and bathing anymore.
  • Naturally Beautiful The use of natural materials in the kitchen and bath continues to abound. From apron sinks made completely of granite in kitchens to above-counter vessel bath sinks hand carved in wood or copper, the idea here is natural materials soften rooms, create a warm and relaxing atmosphere and balance spaces against chrome faucets or satin nickel hardware.
  • Color and Finish My World Bold, daring color is reaching kitchens and baths everywhere as a personal statement. Few clients will approve of cobalt blue lacquered cabinets, but color can be injected many ways including paint schemes which are easily changed, a few accent cabinets in color, textiles on chairs or window treatments, artwork or accessories. Another great way to inject color is backsplashes with vibrant tile work in glass, stone or porcelain. Gloss finishes are strong in Europe now with durable chrome making a strong comeback in metal finishes everywhere. Designers are getting their clients to be more comfortable adding properly selected and well-coordinated colors and finishes into their homes.
  • I Can See Clearly Now Glass is in use everywhere including countertops such as an upper bar supported by standoffs, eating areas and work surfaces, recycled glass tiles for backsplashes and accents, ceramic glass on cooktops, glass refrigerator doors, Murano glass light fixtures, and translucent glass vessel sinks in addition to traditional roles such as inserts in cabinet doors.
  • Shapely and Sexy Say goodbye to straight lines and right angles everywhere and say hello to wisely placed egg-shaped bath tubs, ellipsoidal sinks and curvy counters. Organic shapes are definitely in. Not only are the shapes pleasing, but they also encourage a more natural circular traffic flow. It is the correctly specified combination of straight and organic shapes that provides the real charm.
  • All Access Today’s interior environments provide personalized storage solutions including exposed and open storage shelving with fun dishes or collectibles displayed, a wall of cubby holes, horizontal kitchen cabinets with doors that flipper up or retract to open out of the way, counter level cupboards to reduce bending, ergonomic dishwasher drawers flanking the kitchen sink, microwaves in drawers and roll out trays in vanity base bathroom cabinets. Innovative and accessible storage solutions continue to break the monotony, cut the clutter and add to universal design and access for all people.
  • Sustainable and Healthy Design Eco-friendly and healthy materials are not going out of style anytime soon. There are more ways than ever to go green and healthy in kitchens and baths. From energy efficient appliances, to formaldehyde free cabinetry, you can add value to your home, live a healthier lifestyle and reduce your carbon footprint all at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to adopt trends to personalize your kitchens and baths. Work with your designer to make statements that reflect your unique personality and lifestyle. With so many options, there is something to fit every budget. After all, it’s your home.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Large Style for Small Spaces

Whether it is designing a small bathroom, a closet, a guest space, a vacation cottage or if you are now downsizing your primary home like many Americans these days, there are many excellent interior design tips to maximize your small spaces and create beautiful interiors in the process. While the cost of real estate and energy continue to impact many American’s lives, the need for proper design of lovely and functional smaller spaces is greater than ever.

Small spaces can be quiet desirable; a small space like a cozy den can envelop and comfort its occupants. A well designed small bathroom can be as functional and luxurious as a hotel spa bath. Less volume of space also means less maintenance, less hassle, less energy and less cost overall to operate. You do not have to live in a palace to reap the benefits and joy of stunning interior design in a small room.

Proper planning is always an important component of interior design, but it is particularly critical in designing for small spaces. I always start a new interior design client with a personal interview and an in-depth survey of their specific desires. I walk and photograph the spaces, then carefully field measure everything, paying attention to mechanicals and what is behind walls, floors and ceilings as well. Perhaps there is a bulkhead, attic space or closet that could be combined into a smaller space to enhance it.

A great way for a homeowner to create small spaces on their own would be to measure and draw the space on graph paper, while forming a separate list of the quarter’s necessities. Scrutinize the potential uses of the room, the furniture requirements, storage needed and personal interests and tastes. Create a budget based on the financial means at your disposal, future changes in your life and the amount of time you plan to spend in the space. Previewing all this information before you start designing for your smaller space makes all the difference in your success.

One real key to a smaller space is organization: A space that has a sense of control and order will feel better and function better for work and play. Clutter makes a room look smaller and quickly fills up an undersized space. Find ways to stash your clutter with baskets under coffee tables or tucked into storage benches, furniture and cabinetry.

Another must have in a small space is proper built-ins. Nothing provides the utility of additional space better than a well thought out and executed built-in. Built-ins can include recessed book cases, benches, niches, and cabinetry of all sorts to name a few. By creating well planned built-ins, you not only add value to your real estate but the floor space is not compromised and the room offers more functionality.

Some structural elements to consider include removing all or part of a wall, or adding interior windows in a wall. You can also successfully and cheaply remove doors to create more path and floor space and convert them to simple cased openings with lovely millwork. Pocket doors also work great for this purpose. Adding larger windows or skylights can also add to the sense of openness in a small space.

Expand the space and bring the outdoors in by drawing the visitor’s eyes to gorgeous windows and clean window treatments. Avoid heavy patterned fabrics and trims in a small space, but instead utilize simple under treatments to provide privacy and light control. Use top treatments that blend with the furnishings like long, split draw draperies on simple rods, hung high in the room to create a great sense of height.

Storage space is usually in high demand for smaller areas, and the absolute best design tip is to utilize properly designed closets. Modular closets systems can store upwards to three times that of a poorly designed closet. A well designed closet works from the floor line to the ceiling and can contain drawers, doors, hanging spaces, open adjustable shelving, safes, and can be retrofit with additional modular storage materials as your needs change over time. The more effectively the space in your closets is utilized, the better it contains your clutter, freeing up space in the rest of your home.

Ceilings are the most underused space in any room. Consider ceiling mouldings to call the eye up and create a larger sense of space. You can also create built-ins at the ceiling level to allow for more storage and display opportunities. Creating a sense of height even in a room with 8’ ceilings can add to the spaciousness of a small room.

Avoid single overhead lighting, like a chandelier, in small spaces as it has a tendency to draw the walls in. Instead, increase the number of your light sources, placing them near walls to reflect and wash the surfaces. To avoid glare common in a smaller space, conceal your sources of light creatively with lampshades, directed spotlights or up lighting and always utilize dimmers where possible.

Analyze the materials of both your furniture and decorations: metal, glass, polished wood and leather all reflect light improving the brightness of a room. High gloss finishes are very much in vogue today. Exploit mirrors for their ability to enhance the feeling of space and reflect light. Place a large mirror opposite a window to reflect the outdoors on the opposing wall or frame a mirror in a windowless room to give a sense of a mock window. An interesting piece of framed artwork can create the same effect.

When furnishing small spaces, you should keep most of the furniture appropriately compact. The size of the space should balance with the size of most of its belongings. But, do not be afraid of a few larger scale pieces to add drama to your room. When selecting furniture, consider maximizing the utility of the piece. Furniture should always work double duty in small spaces as in the case with a sleeper sofa, some pull out seating cubes under a console table, or a large armoire with additional storage. Space planning a small space will almost always reveal most furniture is best offset only slightly from the walls to maximize path spaces.

Some final décor considerations for smaller spaces: Focus on simplicity and neutral backdrops. Visual unity among decorations enables the room to maintain a sense of class, without becoming cluttered and closed in. The details, furnishings and decorations, should be simple and balance each other. One method of balance is to make the surfaces of the room consistent, except for accents.

Color and sheen can help achieve consistency in the space. High gloss paint is extremely durable and helps reflect light – consider it on the ceiling and for sure on all millwork. Keep colors neutral except for perhaps one deep colored wall or for the insets of bookcases to draw the eye away from the middle of the room and create more space visually. Your accent wall color can also be used as inspiration for toss pillows and throws, to create vibrancy and reflect your personal style in your small space to make it all your own.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Sustainable and Healthy Interior Design is Here to Stay

Today, of the more than 50 new buildings going up in New York City with a cost of $25 million dollars or more, every single one of these structures are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified projects. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based collection of national standards for developing sustainable buildings and interiors.

Developed by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), there are four major categories of LEED standards including a category for residential projects. The USGBC also offers a comprehensive system of professional accreditation and training.

According to the USGBC, the environmental impact of the residential sector is quite significant. There are more than 120 million homes in the United States, and about 2 million new homes are constructed each year. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the residential sector accounts for about 22% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. and 74% of the water. Indoor air pollutants can be four to five times higher than outdoor levels. Twenty-one percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are contributed by the residential sector. The considerable impact on the environment and human health issues created by homes greatly necessitates a shift towards more sustainable and healthy residences.

Green home building addresses these issues by promoting the design and construction of homes that have much higher performance levels than conventional homes built to minimum building code standards. Green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable and more energy efficient. And of course, they have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes.

Green homes rely upon established and proven design features and technologies that do not have a significantly large cost. Many green measures will cost slightly more upfront, but reduce long term costs, particularly those features that involve energy and water efficiency. In many cases, these reductions in operating costs will more than offset the additional up-front costs of a green home. The home building industry is beginning to recognize the value of healthy homes and environmentally responsible projects. The LEED home rating (points-based) system provides a basis for quantifying the benefits of green homes, thereby facilitating a wider adoption of this more sustainable approach to home building.

LEED for homes represents a national consensus standard for green home building developed and refined by a diverse cadre of national experts and experienced green builders. This rating system uses eight different resource categories to measure the overall performance of a certified green home including:

  • Innovation and Design Process (ID) – Team design, durability planning, design charrettes, innovative and regional design issues are utilized.
  • Location and Linkages (LL) – Site selection, environmental impacts, preferred locations, infrastructure, community resources, public transit and access to open spaces are all reviewed.
  • Sustainable Sites (SS) – Site stewardship, landscaping, shading of hardscapes, surface water management, non-toxic pest controls and housing density are explored.
  • Water Efficiency (WE) – Water reuse, irrigation systems and reduction of indoor water use are examined.
  • Energy and Atmosphere (EA) – EnergyStar™ home with third party testing, water heating and refrigerant management of ozone depleting chemicals are checked.
  • Materials and Resources (MR) – Framing waste factors, advanced framing techniques, selection of environmentally preferred products and documentation of waste management with the goal of reduction of waste sent to landfill.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) – High performance fireplaces, control of moisture, outdoor air ventilation, exhausting of air, supply air distribution, supply air filtering, contaminant control, radon protection and garage pollutant protection are all addressed.
  • Awareness and Education (AE) – Basic occupant manual is developed, homeowner is trained with multiple walk-throughs and the public is made aware of local LEED homes and their benefits.

Residential interior designers have the opportunity to design, re-design or re-furnish homes with environmentally friendly products and materials that can actually have a healthy impact on clients and the planet. The following are some basic sustainable design practices residential interior designers are now considering as they incorporate sustainable practices into their work:

  • Make a more ecologically sound choice of wood from a supplier who can verify through a chain of custody that the original trees came from an ecologically sustainable forest managed under guidelines of the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Specify “green” paint and other finishing materials that have documented levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or chemical emitting materials, that are the lowest levels possible, and the rate of their emissions — or dissipation — is as fast as possible.
  • Specify paints and finishes that do not contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
  • Specify sustainable fabrics that support the use of materials from rapidly renewable, post-consumer or post-industrial sources.
  • Use rapidly renewable flooring products such as bamboo or linseed-based linoleum to help reduce the amount of land and resources dedicated to producing construction materials.
  • Specify energy-efficient appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators with the EnergyStar™ rating, as well as lighting packages
  • Design around standard product sizes to reduce material waste.
  • Consider the recyclability of all materials used to redirect their “next life” away from landfills.
  • Some products once referred to as “natural” are now known to have toxic qualities. For instance, pesticides are used to grow cotton and some wool is cleaned with dangerous chemicals during processing. With the help of new government labeling requirements, better tools and information about these products are becoming more available to interior designers as well as a new vocabulary that can be useful to investigate materials and products for interior projects.

There is absolutely no question sustainable and healthy home building and interior design practices are here to stay. The real momentum now is being generated from end user consumers asking for these specific services and materials from their architect, interior designer and builder/remodeler. Professional interior designers can specify and recommend gorgeous sustainable and healthy materials, but it always returns to the consumer who must ultimately request and drive the process towards a cleaner and healthier planet.

For more information on LEED projects and procedures, please visit the U.S. Green Building Council’s web site at www.usgbc.org. You can also contact a LEED certified consultant in your area for further advice.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Great Spaces are Defined by Proper Architectural Lighting

Light is simply “visual radiation”. It comes from energy or electromagnetic waves that stimulate the photoreceptors in our eyes. To achieve great permanent architectural lighting, your interior designers at Jeff Sheats Designs are trained to practice the science of lighting, while using our past experiences and talents to apply great artistic vision as well.

It all begins with an understanding of human vision, and applying this knowledge to help the human user of the space see effectively and comfortably. People must be able to see their tasks well in workspaces like a kitchen or home office, and enjoy typical living situations like movement through a space, cooking, reading a magazine or playing board games with the family.

As professional interior designers, we consider many scientific aspects when formulating a great lighting plan for your spaces. We inventory your existing conditions, including measuring the volume of the space, note the spatial forms like curves or long narrow rooms and look at how the space will be used. We consider the visual tasks that will take place in the room, the occupant’s ages, furnishings, surface finishes, existing lighting, your feedback and we make our own impressions. Your designers at Jeff Sheats Designs continue the scientific analysis of spaces by considering the quality of daytime versus night lighting, the reflective values of surfaces, foot candle luminance limits (how much light on a plane of space is needed to complete a task), local/state/national building codes, and perform specific lighting calculations to determine proper quantity of lighting. We consider the type of bulb (lamp), the luminaire (fixture) itself and the controls which will be used for the lighting as well. Correct lighting is a huge science into itself.

The artistic side of lighting includes the final fixture locations and specifications – the aesthetics, the feeling the fixtures evoke, the finish and the function. Deciding upon which precise luminaires will be controlled by a dimmer or on a circuit together can certainly add to the artistic feeling of a space.

For the high quality homeowner, we address three major aspects of lighting: Ambient, Accent and Task. Ambient lighting is most easily defined as “path lighting” to light your path as you move about a space. Accent lighting is just that – lighting that accents certain features of a space such as lighting on a piece of artwork or lighting that washes some special built-in cabinetry to “show it off”. Task lighting creates light on a work plane so the user may finish a specific task at hand, such as proper lighting on a desk to do paperwork without eye strain, or under cabinet lighting in a kitchen to promote perfect vision while prepping and cooking food for the family.

The creative staff at Jeff Sheats Designs takes great pride in our ability to create detailed construction documentation for proper lighting implementation by the builder or remodeler. Great lighting documentation includes detailed drawings of the spaces with existing and new lighting plans. We always specify to reuse wiring wherever practical. Good drawings include industry standard symbology, a legend of symbols on the drawings and a schedule of materials with precise locations, exact fixture makes and model numbers, lamp types and dimmers or switches. This information is all vital to a great installation. Our interior design firm does not only specify your lighting plans and materials, but we prefer to supply all materials and oversee the installation by a Master Certified Electrician to achieve premium results. This way the designer’s vision becomes reality without substitutions or change orders.

Let us not forget a great lighting plan also always includes portable lighting such as lovely table, desk or floor lamps. Portable lighting can be greatly enhanced by specifying floor receptacles so the fixtures float in the room instead of dangerously running cords across path spaces. Portable lighting can also be specified to operate from switched receptacles so dimmers are used to control these fixtures and add drama to the room. Great spaces are truly defined by proper architectural lighting!

Our best kept designer lighting secret: We always space plan furniture, artwork and built-ins first, and then create the lighting plan accordingly. This will achieve the very best architectural lighting plans if you allow your interior designers to follow this path.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

Proper Specification of Upholstered Furniture

As professionals in the interior design industry, we are the “go-to guys” regarding good upholstered furniture buying habits. All upholstery work is not created equal, of course.

We always advise our clients to purchase the best upholstery they can afford, especially for those rooms they will be sitting in every day. There are many different types of upholstered chairs and sofas, and they vary widely in quality. A high price tag does not necessarily indicate quality. High-quality and low-quality upholstered furniture can be found in all price ranges.

When we specify fine quality upholstered furniture, we review the detailed specifications from the manufacturer and look for many, many construction details which are often hidden to the consumer. Your designers prefer upholstery from manufacturers who guarantee the frame for life. This means that you, as the original buyer, are entitled to a repair or replacement if the frame should ever crack or break.

Other aspects of fine upholstered furniture we look for are as follows:

  • Bench Made Upholstery: The piece you are buying is not mass assembled, but hand made one piece at a time on a raised bench and usually overseen by one lead craftsman who takes great pride in their work.
  • 5/4 Kiln Dried Hardwoods: 1-1/4” hand selected Grade A hardwoods are dried in a kiln to remove moisture and used to hand construct your frame. This prevents warping of the frame and provides strength. Joints should be snugly fitted, glued, double doweled, and reinforced with screwed-in double sized corner blocks for lasting strength.
  • Support Foundation: Seat backs should be wire springs or a Marshall unit for support and comfort. Good seat systems are typically comprised of a spring system with individually placed eight-way hand tied tempered steel coils. We also like European suspension systems that look like woven seatbelt materials and provide excellent comfort.
  • Padding and Fills: These can include polypropylene, blended cotton, poly fibers, environmentally safe polyurethane high density foams, down/feathers over spring systems and other materials to add comfort and plushness to the look and feel of your upholstery. We prefer all fills enclosed in muslin casings for long-term ease of use and cleaning.
  • Upholstery Textiles and Coatings: The durability of the fabric is determined by the type of fiber used in the construction of the fabric. Each fiber has unique properties such as color retention, luster, sturdiness, cleanability, and pleasing touch or tactile qualities. Some fibers most often used in upholstery fabrics are cotton, linen, flax, silk, wool, acrylic, nylon, trevira, polyester, and rayon. Leather is also very popular but not classified as a fiber. How textiles are applied to a piece can make a world of difference in the final product. We always recommend textiles and leather be coated for stain prevention. There are literally millions of textiles on the market today, and designers have access to materials you do not. Your designers are trained in textiles, leathers and applications at the university level and can assist in proper specification.
  • Styling: Good upholstery manufacturers allow a myriad of choices in the tailoring of your new upholstery. Good manufacturers include 4-way pattern matching of fabrics centering designs on seats and backs, and welts cut on the bias. You can also specify railroaded fabrics (turning the fabric 90 degrees), contrasting welts, high-end trims, down-filled toss pillows with or without trims, special seat and back cushions, various arm and leg styles, various skirt styles, multiple exposed wood finishes with standard or premium prices, tight or loose back cushions, seat tie-downs, soft edges, by-the-inch scale options and the list goes on and on. Your designers can help specify all the perfect options for you to give you that true custom look.
  • Sectionals, Sleepers, Motion Furniture: Sectionals come in 2 pieces or multiples with a huge variety of shapes and configurations, and can contain a sleeper as well. Sleepers have upgraded spring and mattress options for comfort, and motion furniture like recliners can now hug a wall with zero clearance needed. Again your designers are trained to evaluate these options for you.

A well chosen piece of upholstered furniture can provide great comfort and style, as well as become an heirloom for your family. As professional interior designers, we also have access to wood refinishers and reupholstery artist to rework a fine piece of upholstery to take it into the next century. Reworking a piece of fine furniture allows the designers to upgrade fills and textiles, and drastically alter the look of the frame as well, if appropriate. After your room is properly space planned, let us help you specify your next upholstery purchase or reupholster your furniture to ensure your satisfaction for years to come.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.

The Science and Art of Proper Space Planning

Proper space planning is a science. It is an inherently complex process that dovetails several processes involving knowledge in many categories of information related to the organization and construction of buildings, its contents, and how the structure will be used. Educated interior designers study the science of space planning at the post-secondary level and are well versed in planning the great use of space.

Proper space planning is also art. An experienced interior designer uses their creativity and knows how the boundaries can be pushed and manipulated to produce the most beautiful results for the least cost.

Professional space planners such as Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. consider human physiology (anthropometrics) and human movement (ergonomics), universal design and ADA compliance, how you will use your space, your traffic flow, location of and distances around furnishings, the exact location of mechanicals, historic preservation requirements, your materials that will fill the space, the quality of light, and more. We consider your aesthetic preferences, your desired final feeling of the space, and your individual needs in the development of space planning drawings. Our final drawings are detailed enough for contractors to build or remodel from, down to the last electrical receptacle, light fixture, and placement of artwork and furniture.

For existing spaces, proper space planning begins with one simple yet complex task: a very tight and accurate field measure of space and materials. Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. prides itself on the ability of it’s staff to create excellent and accurate initial field measurements, noting your existing furniture for reuse, existing architecture and millwork, mechanicals and all critical dimensions. We then translate these detailed measurements and notations into a drawing via computer-aided drafting (CAD). A final design plan means nothing without precise measurements and drawings of your existing space.

Some examples of proper space planning include:

  • Ensuring your materials are able to move in and out of the space, including measuring elevators, hallways and door openings
  • Creating circulation in your main path space at a minimum of 36”
  • Performing kitchen design which allows for a minimum of 44” between perimeter and island cabinetry
  • In baths, designing a minimum clear space of 30” in front of a commode
  • When space planning furniture, allowing a minimum distance of 18” from a sofa to a coffee table
  • Specifying a dining room chandelier be hung at 31” from the bottom tip of the fixture to the top of a dining surface
  • Designing closets with a minimum of 25” deep to allow clothing on hangers to clear from a standard rod or custom closet system behind a closed closet door

All great interior design projects start with accurate measurements and creative space planning. It is the foundation upon which the entire design plan will rest.

Please feel free to contact us via telephone at (317) 357-0155 with any questions about this material or to request more information about our services. Visit the It’s YouTM section on our website at www.jeffsheatsdesigns.com to learn more about the Jeff Sheats Designs, Inc. interior design process. We are your partners in interior design.