(Guest Contributor, Cristi Holcombe)
Have you ever thought about design from the perspective of your lifestyle? It seems like a reasonable approach, but often times we walk into a store and are drawn to a trendy pillow fabric without realizing it will not stand up to the wear and tear of our animals. Or, we are lured in by the beauty of a marble countertop for our kitchen without realizing the upkeep.
At each stage of our lives our lifestyle can dictate the design of our living space. Here are six helpful tips that I’ve learned over the years:
1. Paint Finishes
One of the most common mistakes I see people make with regard to their lifestyle is not selecting the appropriate paint finish. A flat paint finish is the most common and most economical finish for walls. While initially economical, it can prove very difficult and costly to maintain. Cleaning walls with a flat finish is virtually impossible because of the marks your clothing or cleaning supplies can leave. If you have children or pets in the home always opt for a flat matte or better finish. This allows you the ability to wipe down the walls with ease. For even more durability, I always choose an eggshell finish for high traffic areas like stairs and wet rooms such as baths.
2. Durable Fabrics
Durable fabric with inherent stain protection qualities used to be something I saw only in contract and hospitality design. Now, more and more, I’m seeing durable fabric options coming into mainstream residential design. This is a huge plus for homeowners with children, animals and any home with high traffic. Most brand name furniture stores like Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs and Restoration Hardware are offering water proof indoor/outdoor fabrics for their upholstery that will hold up to most any spill and can be easily cleaned with water. Crypton and Sunbrella fabrics can also be purchased at many local home fabric stores. These fabrics provide outstanding durability and built-in stain protection that is woven into the fabric rather than applied as a top treatment. They are also offered in a wide range of colors, patterns and styles.
Often times I am asked what flooring is right for a homeowner. That widely depends on the application and how the flooring is going to be used. The easiest hardwoods to care for have a low sheen on the surface and are medium in color. Minwax Provincial and Classic Gray are two of my go-to colors as far as wood stains go. Both have a good medium tone that really allow the wood grain to pop. Prefinished hardwoods with distressed finishes can also hide unwanted dings that might show up later on. If your lifestyle allows, light wood floors and carpet options are very on trend, but always opt for a carpet with an inherent stain protection that will set your mind at ease should you spill a glass of coffee.
Although very popular, marble countertops sometimes don’t hold up as well in a kitchen setting as other products. Some homeowners are okay with this and prefer the look to the maintenance it requires. If you decide marble is the best choice for you, make sure to select a stone with a honed finish. This will help hide etching caused from water stains that sit to long or acid from fruits and drinks. Another countertop option that will give you a look close to marble but the durability of a granite is a manmade product like quartz. Quartz products are currently one of the most durable in the countertop industry. There are a wide variety of natural looking options that mimic the look of marble too. For a durable countertop option that is also economical stick with granite, but opt for a leathered or antiqued finish that will bring out the veining and will change the look of the stone to give you a very upscale look.
5. Additional Storage
One way to organize clutter and create more useable floor space in a room is by adding custom built-ins. Adding appropriate closet storage suited for your needs can often alleviate the need for large dressers which can create more open space in your bedroom. Built-in shelving can be designed by your local cabinet company and you can even customize the space with your specific items in mind.
Green living options, while often not the least expensive route in design, can do much for the environment and for your wellbeing. Some of these green initiatives are very simple such as using low VOC paints and replacing lighting with LED style fixtures. Another growing wellness practice is installing light therapy in bathrooms which can aid in treating skin and mood disorders.
Whether you are starting out, starting over, building a family or living actively in retirement designing for your lifestyle is something that everyone can benefit from.
Cristi Holcombe is an acclaimed interior designer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She launched her interior design firm in 2009 and worked on HGTV’s Emmy Award Winning Show, Elbow Room, for three seasons as Production Designer.
Prior to founding Cristi Holcombe Interiors, a full-service interior design firm, Cristi managed multi-million dollar design projects for Lodgian, Inc. and its 40 plus hotels across the nation. She also planned and executed design concepts for several award-winning communities at one of the country’s largest home builders, Beazer Homes. Her work has been featured in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cottages & Bungalows, Parenting magazine and more.
In addition to her interior design work, Cristi is recognized from her interior design blog, Charm Home. Cristi lives in Alpharetta, Georgia with her husband Billy, son Chase, and daughter Hayden.