As Seen in The Electric City News: Creating Home | A Child's Masterpiece

An interior element that instantly adds character and personality to a home is art, yet it is also one of the most difficult things to come by. Finding pieces that are your style, the right colors, in your budget, and the right size for your space can be a challenge.  Which is why commissioning pieces from my talented toddler is one of my favorite ways to obtain new art.

Children create such beautiful freeform paintings and drawings. They combine colors you might not think of, apply strokes that are interesting and unusual, and with a pretty frame these pieces can be charming anywhere in your home. Occasionally, however, I find myself looking for something for a specific space. In this case I like to guide the process (just a little). The following tips will help your little artist in creating a unique piece that is perfect for the space you have in mind.

First, give your child good materials to work with. When creating a special piece for framing, use higher quality drawing or watercolor paper and actual paint brushes. If you’re looking for something bold and dramatic, offer a larger paint brush. For a more delicate and understated piece, offer a smaller brush. Second, choose your colors. Offer your child a palette that works for the space that you have in mind. You could choose vivid colors for a statement piece, different shades of one color for a monochromatic piece, a modern combination of black and white, or a collection of colors from your favorite belongings in the room. Let them have free reign but pull the piece, offering a new sheet of paper if they are still feeling inspired, before the colors become too muddy. Third, cut the paper to a standard framing size of your choice, using the most interesting part of the painting. Fourth, take your new work of art to the local craft store for a nice matte and attractive frame that works with your space.

Original art created by little ones that you love; your children, nieces or nephews and grandchildren will add a personal touch to your home that is special and beautiful. In using these tips, you can help them create a true masterpiece to be cherished.

As Seen in The Electric City News: Creating Home | Styling Your Coffee Table

When designing your home, it’s easy to focus on the big pieces. The furniture, rugs, lighting and items that grab your attention immediately. But like most things, the beauty is in the details… right down to the styling of your coffee table. The coffee table is often the center of your living room, a focal point in the space where we all gather. And while it is convenient for housing our various odds and ends like remotes, our kid’s toys, mail or the dog leash there are a few simple tricks for clearing the clutter, adding some interest and creating one more place in your home that is practical and polished.

There are limitless ways to decorate a coffee table, and your design will depend on the size of your table, the items that you would like to include and your personal taste. There is, however, a method to the madness so I have gathered some tried and true tips that should help you create a well-balanced design. The first thing that I like to use on a coffee table or ottoman is a decorative tray or bowl. Something to contain the miscellaneous items that might otherwise look haphazard. On or beside the tray, include a several objects; something for height, something sculptural and something practical. The height component could be a vase with fresh flowers, a small potted plant or a couple of candlesticks. The sculptural piece should be lower than the ‘height’ element, creating different planes of interest. It could be a candle, a piece of pottery, or a small bowl. The practical component should be something useful, that will ultimately end up on the table anyway. For example, if you have a small box to house the remote that will always find its way to your coffee table, or a stack of pretty coasters, use them! The last piece is a stack of ‘coffee table books’, or any interesting books with an attractive cover.  Not only are books a pretty addition, but they are also nice to have for guests to flip through when entertaining.

Shift these items around, experimenting with their layout until it feels right to you. In the end, by grouping together a variety of pieces with different textures, heights and shapes you will have created a beautiful vignette that is both stylish and functional.

As Seen in The Electric City News: Creating Home | Mix It Up

In my experience, designing a space for someone is different every time. Every client has different priorities, different aesthetics, and a different way of approaching their style. One thing that I stand by in every scenario, however, is to MIX. IT. UP.  

Nothing gives a home more of that effortless, cool, lived in vibe than a collection of pieces that are vintage, modern and classic. And this look is attainable for everyone.

Here’s a breakdown of my approach. In each room, begin with one thing that you love. It can be a sofa, rug, dresser, chair, a piece of china… anything; but be sure that you love it. This piece will guide the decisions you make on color, style and layering in other furnishings. Once your vision is established, start by implementing a cohesive theme throughout your home. When mixing time periods and trends there is a fine line between being interesting and chaotic. A consistent theme in things like paint colors, flooring and finishes is key in pulling the look together. After the foundation of your concept is in place, move to furniture. Focus on the big pieces: sofa, bed or, dining table, for example. Choose these items based on the concept you have created, but making them basic enough to serve as a backdrop to the unique pieces you will add in. Once you have your essentials in place, it’s time to canvass for some vintage elements. Visit local antique stores, flea markets and thrift shops for pieces that will add character and warmth to your space. When I am shopping for something vintage I always have my eyes peeled for dressers, tables and chairs; solid wood pieces that often aren’t made as well or as beautifully as they used to be. Last, but certainly not least, layer in the finishing touches. The eclectic feel that we are after comes from layers of pattern, texture and contrast that you find in textiles, art, rugs and plants. Always be on the lookout for these things, continuously adding them to your home and story through the years.

Even if you’re not starting from scratch, use these tips to rework what you already have. Add in a few new things from your local thrift shop; put a great blanket on the back of your sofa and get a chic plant for your living room. My only rule in this approach is: if you don’t love it, don’t buy it. You will find yourself working around something that isn’t a part of the vision you created. Be patient; this look evolves over time. And it is always worth the wait.

As Seen in The Electric City News: Creating Home

Hi! My name is Amie Speer and I am an Interior Designer living in Greenville, SC. I am excited to be introducing myself in this column of The Electric City News for many reasons, but the biggest is that I grew up in Anderson; it’s my hometown. As a designer, the feeling of home is very important to me. It can come from an object that reminds you of something special, a smell that brings you comfort or the sound of the music you grew up listening to.  Anderson, and the house that I grew up in, will always give me all of the ‘home’ feelings.

It is my ambition as an Interior Designer to create, or help others create this feeling of home. A person's home is sacred ground. It holds our most precious memories, our most personal moments and the key to a good deal of our comfort and happiness. I believe that the blending of styles, old with new, and designing around your most cherished items are what give a space character, warmth, and a connection to the people that live there.

And from this comes my first piece of advice! Something simple that can be done today. Choose an item that brings you joy, holds a memory, or just makes you feel good. Place it somewhere in your home where it will be seen and appreciated on daily basis, and design that area around it. Whether it be on a coffee table, on a bookshelf, or on your mantle; make it the focal point.

Here’s an example. When I was in design school in Charleston, living in an apartment by myself for the first time, my Grandma gave me a blue and white vase that was her mothers. She knew my love for all things blue and white and wanted me to have it. The vase has moved with me to many different houses, giving each one a special sense of home. It currently sits on the dresser in our entry filled with fresh flowers, along with other things that I love. Every time I look at the vase I think of Grandma, that apartment, the moment that she gave it to me, and it makes me happy. Interior Design is different for everyone, and in the end, what is most important is that your home speaks to you. That it is authentically yours. So, give it a try! Pull out an item that you love that may be collecting dust. See if by doing so that your home starts to feel a little more like your own.