Breaking out of the TRACT HOME look ...

Decorating a room doesn't have to be intimidating if you break it up into stages. 

Good design consists of layers; the first of which begins at the walls, windows, ceilings and floors of a room.   Why settle for builders grade selections when you can add the touches that create interest, beauty and character in a room?  Why have boring walls and uninteresting windows and extremely ordinary ceilings and floors, when with a little imagination, you can have something LESS ORDINARY?

Must haves are improvements in the base moldings, door and window casings.   Adding crown molding finishes a room, draws your eye up and raises your ceilings - not literally, but it makes it feel that way. 
Higher ceilings can handle fatter moldings - but never less than 4" for a custom look
Because of the angle involved, crown moldings are more complicated than base and casings.  But most handymen, and handy husbands are equal to the task.
Contemporary as well as traditional design aesthetic has more character with added crown and base moldings, window and door casings.


Builders standard door casings are 3".  Pump them up a bit with wider casings and chunkier baseboards along with your crown moldings for a room with some charm and character.  You can make a door or opening into another room look very special with the use of a little more in the way of trim and moldings, but at the very least, frame those bare windows, add sills if they are absent, and widen the door casings.

mitred casing
combined with custom sill
non mitred casing with corner medalions
fluted casings make a
big statement in a contemporary room

This narrow room's focal point is its beautifully finished windows


An opening into another room allows you to add a little millwork to that otherwise boring hole in the wall. You are only limited by your imagination. A good designer or woodworker can help you put something beautiful together, but here are some examples.

Covering up a boring, pebble textured, painted wall with some wonderful woodwork is one of my favorite things to do.  I love the application of a high wainscote done in beadboard or board and batten - not just for that beachy cottage or a kids room anymore.

Here are some examples of traditional wainscoting.  Faux panels are created with narrow picture frame molding for a more formal look.

I love the way it wraps around this window.  Looks nice up a staircase, too.
The board and batten treatment works well in a variety of applications and has recently grown up, as well.

A little closer look at the treatment

I love how this board and batten treatment looks elegant in this room and keeps the deep chocolate from overpowering the design.
Board and batten adds great interest to this stair wall in 'squares'

Yellows and golds make me happy.  But that isn't why I chose this photo.  These traditional panels are perfect for framing art, and are especially effective with the color treatment inside the panel.
I love the height of these panels and the textural interest it adds to this wall
These panels are painted out in one color, but you still see the dimension of the panels and it still adds subtle visua linterest.
Here's another treatment with reverse painted effect - the molding darker than the wall.
Love love love this wall. It looks amazing.  The whole wall becomes a piece of art.
Here is another subtle painted version, with a detailed dentil molding at crown of the room.

Panels topped with a ledge form a substantial headboard. 

I love the wide plank panelling in this very traditional room
Keeps it from taking itself too seriously!

Or, Turned sideways ..

As you can see, it lends itself to a variety of decorating styles.

If your room is a little lacking in architectural interest and you could use more storage - and who can't - consider a beautiful built-in cabinet, bookshelf or cupboard on that blank wall - tailor made to your needs.

In this child's room, much needed storage is created by building out around a window, and then placing the bed in the alcove created by the build-out of the two closets.  It looks charming and cozy and no kid could resist sleeping in that alcove!

Built in bookcases are a natural choice to flank a fireplace and creates a great focal wall.

Bookshelves - an upcoming project for my house -  can really be added to any room.
Adding cabinets or bookshelves around a window is a great excuse for a window seat

If you are filling a wall with bookshelves, think about leaving a space for your desk, flat screen tv, or seating area.

These shelves were specifically made to showcase a collection
Keep in mind the style and character of your home and decor and make sure your shelves add to and enhance your decor.

Built-ins add character and value to your home, no matter the size

But I do envy this storage area - and anyone who has room for it!

Don't be afraid to go bold if your room can handle it.  Not a built-in, but large enough to be, I chose this photo to show the contrast of color and the weight it adds to that side of the room.

Just imagine it in your own color - (so glad they told me this was 'red')

The built-in china cabinet
below is a nice touch for this large kitchen
I have actually always dreamed of having a stone wall - maybe in  my master bedroom, behind the headboard.  It works well in this kitchen - adds a rustic old-world feel.  Definitely no 'tract home' feel here.
The curved brick/stone veneer on this fireplace is a yummy combination with the bookcases in high contrast on either side. 
I liked this contemporary treatment as well, boxes on the wall in place of shelves, but with the same effect and appeal.
I'm a fan of the 'square' openings in this unit - great for books as well as spotlighting an object or collection.
I have to give you a heads up here - white washed wood surfaces are back and are the next big trend.  For a current look, think 'weathered' and 'driftwood' - I love the color of this gray cabinet above...  

I'm going to need one of these ladders for the bookcases I have planned for my vaulted ceilings...
The soft blue background of this bookcase makes everything in it look beautiful
I have always loved bookcases that surround a window or doorway

and who doesn't love a place for shoes and backpacks???

Floors are probably the area you need the least help in customizing.  But there are a few unique treatments worth looking at, besides carpeting, traditional wood and tile.
Remember the trend I told you about, here are floors with a weathered white wash done in stripes...
another white washed floor... a great way to avoid the cost of a new floor if your hardwood is looking a little tired.

from Cote de Texas blogsite

Another trend is sustainable flooring - like bamboo flooring or a fibre rug (jute, sisal, seagrass).
Note the whitewashed weathered ceiling beams - what do you think about this look?

Eco friendly seagrass floor coverings are also relatively inexpensive and stain resistant. 
For floors and furniture - expect to see lighter washed or reclaimed woods - (for example: Restoration Hardware's new line).

This beautiful room has coffered ceilings - a beautiful treatment for high ceilings. 

I could go on and on - from ceilings and floors to windows, like the one above that just makes this little window seat the most charming seat in the house - but....
another day... another blog
we'll talk about them later

I hope you are inspired to create some wonderful custom elements in your home.  Make it a beautiful place to be!

Best wishes,

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