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I’ve been fascinated by dollhouses and miniatures for years. Tiny houses are like dollhouses in real life!
Above is my own tiny house project, a San Francisco condo of just 596 square feet with multiple custom furniture designs like a storage banquette and adjustable-height glass table. You can read more about that project on Houzz.com
Right now, let me introduce you to three of my favorite creators from around the web, to inspire your tiny house dreams!
Want something unique, traditionally crafted, yet engineered in a forward-thinking way? Zyl Vardos’ beautiful, flowing forms display elements inspired by woodland fairies, cathedrals, and the traveling circus.
Living Big in a Tiny House
Captivating videos of tiny houses, tree houses and more! Presenter Bryce Langston is a New Zealand-based environmentalist who travels the globe exploring the small housing movement as creator and host of the popular online web series Living Big in a Tiny House. This project is one he built himself, in cooperation with Tiny House Chattanooga.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Founded in 1999 by Jay Shafer, known as the father of the modern tiny house movement, Tumbleweed Tiny House Company’s website features floor plans, 3D models, a lifestyle blog, and more. Choose your floor plan, select finishes and get a quote to realize your tiny house dreams.
Want to design YOUR dream tiny house interior? Kimball Starr is available for consultations by phone, video chat or in person with social distancing, so get in touch!
Now more than ever, a home office is necessary for modern life. But how do you find space for a home office in your already-packed-to-the-gills city apartment or condo? I’ll show you how!
The first place to consider, if you have a multi-level home, is under your stairs! It can be as simple as placing a desk with drawers or storage and a chair at the highest end, or you can create a full built-in workspace.
The next-best place to uncover space is in your living area. Bonus points if you have an open-plan living/dining room, like my client’s San Francisco condo.
By creating a wall of custom cabinetry, we tamed storage and organization into a beautiful, single unit with a built-in desk.
Open shelving allows frequent-use items to stay within reach, while displaying beloved memories near her corner desk. The key is to edit by rotating collectibles, instead of adding to the ones already on display.
Another not-so-secret place for a home office is your guest bedroom, or even a main bedroom, depending on your room use. In my client’s SF bay area condo, we needed space for a bed and a second desk, but not at the same time.
Again the solution was custom cabinetry, this time creating a convertible bed and fold-down desk, plus open shelving for this guestroom/home office. There’s even a fold-down bedside table to help guests feel at home, doubling as concealing storage when in use as a home office. Easy, smart and beautiful!
Kimball Starr Interior Design creates space for home offices throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Nevada, and she can for you, too. Contact her today for a consultation!
Even though many shelter-in-place orders are lifting, it’s still not the best idea to be traveling for leisure just yet. Here are some ideas for a safe, quarantine vacation at home.
Have a Theme Staycation
Many people don’t have funds or time available for a long trip, even outside of the pandemic situation, so the idea of a “staycation” isn’t new, but definitely worthwhile.
Create the feeling of being on vacation at home by decorating for a theme! Hawaiian leis and grass skirts, Mexican fiesta paper garlands with a piñata, tropical drinks and finger-foods all give the illusion of being on holiday. This is a great opportunity to get out your fancy china and cocktail glasses, and try out some new recipes!
Take an Online Tour
Many tourist destinations are pivoting to create online virtual tours of their sites. Visit the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose through their 360-degree virtual tour. If you want to go further from home, the Queen of Jordan will guide you around the ancient city of Petra through Google Street View, or you can see Machu Picchu in Peru through YouVisit.com using a virtual reality headset.
Another idea is remotely visiting museums: See the Vatican in Rome, the Louvre in Paris, or the British Museum in London, all from the safety of your home.
Videochat with Friends
If you’re missing that connection with your community, or really just want to hang out with all your friends and relatives, video conferencing is a great way to both see and hear each other in real time. There are so many ways to videochat now: Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Google Duo, and Facetime are some free options, and all have paid versions as well. Discord has made their service free in response to the pandemic, and will transition back to paid service soon. So take advantage of the time and technology available to reconnect with friends and loved ones on your quarantine staycation.
Take Virtual Vacation Photos
Share vacation photos with friends and
family! Use virtual backdrops to create the impression that you’re someplace
else. Zoom has multiple custom backdrops to choose from in both static and
video formats, or you can upload your own. Apple Photobooth has custom
backdrops, too, and Instagram has filters, so there’s no reason to skip the vacay
slideshow, even on staycation.
Want to show off a corner of your real home or garden on video, or talk with an interior designer about creating your dream space at home? Kimball Starr is available for consultations by phone or videochat, so get in touch!
Since Shelter-In-Place orders were given by many cities, counties and states in late March and early April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have already been quarantined together at home with your family or partner for some time.
You might have run into some challenges in working effectively from home and maintaining your interpersonal relationships due to these close quarters. I’m right there with you! So today I’m sharing some of my best tips for working and living together during extended quarantine.
Create Visual Separation
I live in a loft in San Francisco, which
comes with even more challenges than
for those who share a house or apartment, which at least gives you some
separation by rooms with walls and doors. So my first tip for those living and
working together in a loft, studio, or a single room is to create some visual
In a bedroom loft with no operable window, by
definition 50% of the wall area must remain open. My partner decided to build a
wall, and created a large window within the wall to meet this requirement.
But what if you can’t do any construction? A quick solution is to install a drapery track and hang retractable full-length draperies. If that’s not an option, another easy way is to place tall plants, standing room dividers, or a folding screen to form a visual barrier between areas. For added flexibility, put your plants on stands with wheels!
Create Sound Privacy
Visual separation is only the first step. If you both need to be on conference calls or Zoom meetings at the same time, or one partner needs to sleep while the other works, sound privacy is essential. Using noise-cancelling headphones are key!
Wired headphones are fine, but wireless headphones will maximize your freedom and ability to move around the space without interrupting your call. Also great for watching TV or streaming movies while your partner works or sleeps. If you don’t like headphones, place surround sound speakers close to your head to minimize sound transference.
Keep or Establish a Schedule
Not knowing when things are happening can
be a source of stress for people living and working in close quarters, so I
recommend keeping a similar schedule to the one you had pre-quarantine, or
establishing a new quarantine schedule.
Waking and sleeping at the same times each day is proven to be healthy for our bodies and minds, year-round. Having an established, set time when you’re going to be working and when you’re off the clock helps partners and children to be respectful of your needs, and stops those embarrassing video-conference background interruptions from happening as often.
Take Time Alone
Sometimes you just need some me-time. Before the quarantine, you might have gotten that during your gym session or on your commute. Now that those have been eliminated or taken a different form, it’s even more important to create time and space just for yourself.
A great way to do this is to take a walk
(with a face covering and socially distanced, of course). Go to the park,
around the block, walk your dog, or walk to the grocery store.
Another tip is to walk to your service
calls or essential in-person work activities. Yes, you can still drive or use
public transit, but why do that when you can be enjoying the fresh air, birds,
If you can’t leave the house, a good way to get some alone time is in your personal oasis, your bathroom. Make sure to let your partner know you’re going to be using the bathroom longer than usual, then light some candles or incense, dim the lights, and take a long bath or shower. Maybe read a book, listen to a podcast or some relaxing music while you use a face-mask or other beauty products. You’ll come out refreshed and happy.
Use these tips to make your quarantine life easier, and carry them over into your regular life, too, when you can get back to it. A happy home life makes everything easier!
Kimball Starr Interior Design creates beautiful, thoughtful spaces for home and work throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Nevada, and she can for you, too. Contact her today for a consultation!
The ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui seems mysterious, but it’s really about finding a balance between elements, and encouraging the flow of energy. One way this philosophy can be applied is in the creation and design of interior spaces. Here are a few pointers for beginners.
Incorporating feng shui goes deeper than Western design themes based on physical comfort or aesthetic. Feng shui emphasizes physical and mental health, success, and healthy relationships, all of which are brought about through positive energy flow.
Known as the art of placement, feng shui is about positioning different elements to optimize Chi, or energy. The term is comprised of two words: feng meaning wind, and shui meaning water. Both these elements are vital to human life, and also are expressed by their qualities of flow and movement.
The first step in designing with feng shui is to clear the energy that came before and still resides in the space. In Western terms, clear the clutter!
The next most basic part of the process is to ensure you have good air quality and natural light. This means removing anything that blocks light and air circulation in front of your windows, or providing options that allow in more light, such as sheers, in addition to drapes, which hold energy in.
Color is important in good design from every tradition. Use blues and greens in calming spaces, and reds and yellows to energize. Red is also known as a lucky color in Chinese culture, so utilize that to increase your luck.
Use the Chinese bagua map to analyze and create an energy map of your home. Traditionally this is based around compass directions, however, a Western method is to overlay your floor plan with a bagua map that has nine quadrants.
Align the front door with one of the bottom three squares, facing south, to maximize the sun’s energy each day. Then update each space according to its energy flow, by color and element in each quadrant.
Some general rules to go by:
Look at the big picture of the whole house, or if you’re doing a single room, how the space flows into other related spaces.
Place your bed, sofa and desk facing a door but not too close to it, to maximize power and minimize vulnerability.
Don’t leave cabinet doors open – they stop energy flow through a room.
Don’t place a mirror opposite your bed because it will reduce the energy in your romantic relationship.
Don’t use spikey plants indoors because they deflect energy. Leave those outside instead, and use rounded-leaf plants inside, providing an additional benefit of clean indoor air.
Use modern décor items as feng shui cures for specific needs, or to encourage the right kind of energy in the space. There are five major elements that affect energy in feng shui, each representing different aspects of a healthy life:
Wood – growth and vitality
Use wood items in your space to encourage
personal growth. Plants and wooden furniture are easy ways to add this element.
Metal – logic and intelligence
Increase knowledge and mental sharpness
with metal items. Add this element to your interiors with metal frames and
Earth – stability and balance
Helps to ground and stabilize. Bring the
earth element inside with crystals, stone items and landscape imagery or
Water – wisdom and serenity
Assists with clarity and relaxation.
Mirrors, reflective surfaces and aquariums can add a water element to your
space, and are cooling in nature.
Fire – passion and energy
Representative of transformation, expansion and volatility – hot in nature. Use candles and red objects to enhance your space with fire.
My feng shui instructor shares that in the bedroom, it’s important to use things in pairs to attract a partner. One nightstand and one lamp isn’t appealing to a second person – it would make them feel as if you didn’t take them into consideration. Likewise, arrange your bedroom furniture so that two people can easily move around without conflict. This not only attracts a mate, but facilitates a healthy relationship.