When and How to Use Them
Accent walls give interest and break up the monotony of a space by infusing color, pattern or texture to the wall. They can be used in entry ways, just opposite the door, creating a dramatic and memorable entry. Or sometimes they’re used in the bedroom to anchor the wall the bed sits on. They’re great with infusing the homeowner’s personality into the space. Accent walls can be made with paint, wall coverings, or textural elements. Really the sky’s the limit.
If you’re staging your home for sale, its an entirely different story. So far, I’ve never recommended anyone to create an accent wall to make the room more appealing for their sale. There’s a few reasons for this. Let’s go over some of them.
Accent walls represent the Seller
Accent walls really represent the Seller’s taste and personality, which is great when the Seller is living in the home, but not so great when you’re trying to sell it. Rule #1 of selling a home is to depersonalize it. In order for buyers to envision it as their home, remnants of the seller’s taste and personality just reinforces that it’s the seller’s home, not the buyers.
Distracts the buyer's eye
An accent wall in a room is exactly that … an accent wall. It’s meant to pull your attention away from other elements in the room and commands you to pay attention to that wall. When you’re selling a house, you want buyers to be able to move their eyes comfortably through the space. Unless the room is expertly staged and styled, an accent wall will stop the natural movement of the eye, disrupting the cohesion, balance and harmonious feeling in the space. Creating harmonious spaces is what makes people and buyers feel good in a space, which in turn motivates buyers to submit offers.
Color could turn off some buyers
Once you paint or install an accent wall, you’ve now narrowed your pool of potential buyers because an accent wall is by its very nature a color and style choice that you’re affixing to the house. You’ve now limited the buyer’s interior decor choices dramatically as they’ll be limited to decorating their home based on that accent wall, or they’ll have to paint over it or remove it. In today’s market, many buyers want turn-key and don’t want to be bothered with a can of paint, especially after the exhausting task of buying/selling and moving.
And color can be a strong factor for many people. A certain hue, tone or tint could be loved by one buyer, but be a serious turn-off for another.
For these reasons, for staging I typically recommend painting over accent walls to make it cohesive with its surrounding walls. The mood and focal point will be created using furnishings, art and decor, which aren’t fixed items of the home. Any color disconnect with the decor will be less harmful than a color disconnect with an accent wall.
Improper use of accent wall
Many times I see accent walls used improperly here in Hilo. Used improperly, they could subconsciously devalue the house in the buyer’s mind. Buyers typically don’t know what’s wrong with a room when they’re standing in it, but they’ll instinctively know that something doesn’t feel right. And by the very nature of an accent wall, it’ll be the elephant in the room that cannot be ignored. If it’s off balance, or used improperly, buyers will feel the room is awkward and not harmonious. Thus for staging, unless you’re guided by a trained and experienced stager, Seller’s should paint over their existing accent walls to match their surrounding walls.
When can I use an accent wall?
If you’re not selling your home and want to create interest, drama or a certain mood in a room an accent wall could be an option for you. The accent wall becomes the focal point and backdrop for whatever is fronting that wall, so keep that in mind. The rule is a wall that doesn’t have any breaks in it like doors, windows or other openings, would make a good candidate as your accent wall. IF there are windows, they MUST be symmetrically placed on the accent wall to achieve balance and harmony. If not, choose another wall that fits these parameters or abandon the accent wall intention and use other means to create your ambiance.
Can the accent wall rules be broken?
All design rules can be broken, but keep in mind that very few designers can break the design rules and do it well. So its best to stick to the rules unless you really know what you’re doing. And remember, what you see in a magazine shot isn’t the whole story. You can’t fully see and feel how that one shot of the room relates to - or balances with - the other side of the room unless you’re standing in the room. So use the accent wall rules to guide you if you want to add a wall of drama.
I was terrified!
I had a Hilo staging job a couple years ago where the accent wall broke the rules. I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to calm the disharmony in the room. To make matters worse, the accent wall covering was a very busy pattern. Painting over it simply wasn’t an option for the Seller. Therefore I used color to create the cohesion in the room and balanced the accent wall with a large piece of art over the fireplace. For the MLS photo, I cropped out the portions that would show the bad accent wall design issues. The end result? Check out the photo below. Do you think it turned out alright? Balanced, luxurious, inviting? Thankfully my terror ended with a happy seller as house sold in 15 days.
Three Basic Choices in Wood Flooring
Flooring: the foundation of a room
Floors make a huge impact on a home, both aesthetically and financially. Think of your floors like a pair of shoes — its the foundation of the look you’re rockin’. If you’re wearing a Christian Dior dress with a pair of rubber slippahs…. that look isn’t pulled together! We're in Hawaii, so the Christian Dior dress gotta go and put on beach shorts and shirt to complete the ensemble! You can think of your floors in the same way. They’re the foundation of the home’s look. Floors can either be a very trendy look (which drastically limits the other finish choices you’ll make for the home) or a classic look like a great pair of jeans that coordinates with everything.
There’s many factors when considering flooring. On the design aesthetic, if you choose a trendy floor you should be prepared to replace the flooring in 10 years or the home will look and feel older than it is and you’ll be locked into basically one look. If you choose a classic floor its like a great pair of jeans that can be dressed up with a jacket or dressed down with a tank top. A classic floor is a great foundation that works with your home’s decor giving you beauty for many years. Flooring isn’t easy to replace or upgrade. It is possible but expensive to do. So this is a choice you want to be confident will meet your needs and demands both now and in the future. Per John Dupra of Revel Woods Fine Hardwood Flooring, “Flooring is a long-term decision that is not easy to change; like a really expensive tattoo for your house. It’s not something you want to choose hastily, or the sort of thing you want to do on the cheap lest you pay in the long run.”
When to Choose Flooring
Your flooring should be chosen very close to the beginning of a project if possible because its so foundational to the space. Because of flooring’s structural and aesthetic significance its also not wise to penny-pinch and save money on this line item at installation. Your savings will be realized years down the road in durability and elimination of constant floor repairs or replacements. A good placeholder budget number is $12/sf which would include materials and installation. That’s a little on the high side to give you some wiggle room for unwelcomed surprises.
Different types of Hardwood Flooring & Finishes
There are three basic types of hardwood flooring: Solid Wood, Engineered Wood and Wood-Look Products (laminate, pergo, vinyl plank, wood-tile all fall into this Wood-Look category).
There are basically two types of wood finishes: On-site or Factory. Also referred as Unfinished or Finished. On-site finish means you’ve bought unfinished wood and once installed your installer will apply the sealer and finish coats on-site. Because of this, the finish is more customizable in both color and sheen. There is no beveling between planks so you’ll have a truly flat floor. It will still require sanding and it does introduce chemicals into the home which could linger before fully aerating.
Factory means you’ve bought the wood with the sealer and finish coats applied at the factory so your installer only needs to install the wood and its ready to be walked upon immediately after installation. This also means there will be no noxious chemicals lingering in the home. A factory finish is typically more durable due to the controlled environment it was applied in. There are multiple extra finish options you can choose from too, such as smooth, wire brushed and hand scrapped, but some kind of bevel is required and thus you won’t have a truly flat-floor look on a factory finish.
Solid Wood Flooring
Engineered Wood Flooring
Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll discuss the common factors in sourcing wood flooring which includes climate, subfloor, lifestyle and aesthetic. By then, you’ll know if you should choose the rubber slipper, Reef slipper or anything in-between! Until then… a hui hou!!
By: Ulu Poepoe
UP Staging & Design
Whether you're in the market to sell your home, or renovating your current one, its helpful to know what the design trends are. I like to keep a pulse on trends while staging homes in Hilo, and these are the ones I think will be applicable for our homes as we move through 2016.
1. Color of the year is Pantone's Rose Quartz and Serenity
As Rose Quartz and Serenity are softer tones, basically soft pink and baby blue, this color combination most likely won't hit most homes across the U.S., but instead be seen in fashion wear and jewelry. Because the colors are so tranquil and look like our sky at sunset, I see the colors being incorporated into our homes far easier than in the midwest. We'll see it in artwork and accessories, but not wall color and furnishings.
2. New Technology
Hilo may still be3 rural, but we love our technologies. Smart phones have infiltrated life globally with more smart phones than toilets world wide! Well, we really love our toilets too, but as smart phones helps us navigate unknown streets, find recipes, contact friends, and stay abreast with daily news, our phones have grown increasingly important. Emerging trend is the dedicated charging station. these charging stations, mainly being built in kitchens but also appearing near entrances of homes, are all the rage right now! Add the advanced security systems that link to tour smartphone-monitored baby cameras and motion sensors that are quickly growing in affordability and popularity, you can easily see why dedicated charging stations will become the new norm in our homes. Incorporate it into your new house or renovation!
3. Kitchen Design
New technologies are emerging in the kitchen with toe-kick drawers under your lower cabinets, and hands-free tablet holders so spills don't get on your device while watching video recipes. White and grey are still the timeless and popular colors for kitchens, and Shaker style cabinets remain in vogue.
4. Sustainable Products
We will see a larger selection of sustainable products using longer lasting materials and incorporated with style. Public awareness is placing focus on earth consciousness and consumer demands are bringing about this positive change. Use once and throw away will become passé.
"Glamour camping" is in. Bring the outside in, and the inside out! We already see a lot of this with our outdoor lifestyle here in Hilo, but the trend is incorporating natural materials such as copper, marble and brass balanced against natural elements of reclaimed or salvaged woods or even recycled materials with our lanai "glamping".
There are a lot of fun choices available for redecorating rooms. If you want a trendy look, grey provides a wonderful backdrop to add vibrant splashes of color in the room. For more earthy, down-home look, creams and beige provide the backdrop for comfortable greens and browns to nestle into. Many designers are predicting black will be making a bold statement in 2015, but black is a tricky color to work with. Too much black can make a room feel depressing and oppressive. So be very careful in using black unless you're working with a good designer. Remember back in the 80's the black toilets and sinks, yes steer clear of that!
Choices abound us, especially in this digital world we live in and its even on our screens... the Flat vs Realism battle. Which do you prefer? Not sure? Here's a fun interactive demonstration... http://flatvsrealism.com
Happy New Year and have fun walking through all our choices this year!!
Many of us living in Hawaii see how the Pacific Ocean creates a long tail with the East Coast being at the head and Hawaii at the tail end. Sometimes being at the tail end is a good thing. I've sat in on a few of Paul Brewbaker's, Chief Economist at Bank of Hawaii, predictions and he would describe how Hawaii's economy lags a few years behind the mainland. Design trends lag too.
With the advent of smartphones, it has brought our world smaller. I can talk to my friends in DC and cousins in Sāmoa, in a blink of an eye. How awesome is that?! But for me, I interpret this shrunken world to mean we can't lag behind on trends like we used to. Especially when we're selling much of our product to mainlanders. Many of our homes in East Hawaii have wood-stained cabinets. But one of the quickest, easiest ways for our homes to look dated and old is to have wood-stained cabinets. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE beautiful woods and how they bring warmth into a space. And there are indeed many timeless and beautiful wood stained kitchen cabinets. But on the whole, many of them just scream outdated and passé. Even ones just installed. Not sure if this is true? Go to Houzz.com and check out the kitchens showcased there. Then go to Zillow and search homes in our area and look at the cabinetry. Yes, we are experiencing a very long tail whip here.
Wood is a gorgeous building product. Many woods feel so luxurious underfoot, and they have natural dimension and shimmers that just bring depth to a space. But if we use too much wood in a space, the wood gets lost. We feel "dizzy" in the space and its not a harmonious, luxurious feeling.
One of the easiest ways to modernize a kitchen is to paint over the wood cabinets. The home we staged last month didn't extend their beautiful wood floor into the kitchen, which was wise so their wood floors didn't compete with their wood cabinets. But they could have if they painted their cabinets the right shade of white, or rather a cream white. Instantly adding elegance to the kitchen and modernizing it.
I'm Ululani and have been staging homes in Hilo since 2013. I'm passionate about staging, design, color and photography. I'm also about slow food free of pesticides, chemicals and genetically modified organisms for healthy balanced living for our 'ohana and communities.