Ask an Expert: Jamie Adler

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Creating a Well-Seasoned Living Room

Q: Hi Jamie, I’m re-doing my living room and would like to make it look well-seasoned, as if though generations of my family had lived there, even though the house is relatively new. How do I achieve the this look of decades of design, that is also sophisticated at the same time, without getting “hand-me down meets big box store” decor? I want to spend wisely. Thank you! - Gregory

A: Hi Gregory, By wanting a look that feels like it has been “slowly collected”, you have the green light to layer smart vintage finds with contemporary pieces that will work in your new living room. I would focus on the biggest focal pieces to spend a bit more on, such as great upholstery. A well-made, timeless, classic sofa can carry a whole space. So why not accessorize it with pillows using a mix of tapestry and brocade fabrics? Save money by getting vintage tables, consoles and mirrors which you can find at a variety of online sources. But try to keep a theme in mind when blending your new finds, such as color, scale and style. If the pieces you get are not in great shape, there is no reason why you can’t update them with lacquer or new upholstery and honor them by bringing them up to date. You may want to find old pictures of family members or special places you have visited and frame them in similar frames to further accessorize your new home -- this can be very inexpensive while still adding a great personal ancestral touch! This will be a fun and challenging balancing act.

Living Room Wall Pictures
Image: Best Living Room Designs

Living Room Striped Couch

Image: Design Shuffle

Big Investment Pieces

Q: Hi Jamie, How do you determine which pieces require the biggest investment to give each room a tasteful and original feel? Can you recommend the big- ticket item needed for each room to get the most bang for my buck? - Cindy

A: Thanks Cindy, I think of a room much like I do a wardrobe ensemble - and the same rules can often apply. Frequently, I am wearing a strong designer piece mixed with basics, so why not consider a room the same way and decide where you want the emphasis to be? Items to spend money on are really determined by the room and how the items function within it. But first, I would always consider using a strong item that you love. It could be a chair, a rug, a chandelier, or a table. It is amazing how one item can elevate the perceived value of everything else around it.

    • For the kitchen, your counters and splash usually take up the most visual space so this is a place to spend.
    • For living rooms and dens, I always recommend spending more on quality upholstery because these pieces get used the most and inexpensive sofas and chairs generally do not last.
    • For dining rooms, I would spend on a great light fixture and possibly a credenza. Save on dining chair frames as this is the biggest killer to any budget -- even if it is a relatively inexpensive chair you still have multiples of 6, 8 or 10!

An upholstery fabric can make an ordinary frame look expensive! Walls in any room can be painted a strong color, which can be impactful and save money. For the “original feel,” keep your eyes out at flea markets and online sites for high style vintage pieces that can you can mix and layer with bigger purchases.

Dining Room Blue
Living Room Blue Pattern
Image: Landry and Arcari

Finding the Right Countertop

Q: Hi Jamie,
 I am in the process of redecorating my bar area and a guest bathroom, and. I am wondering if Caesarstone would be a good option as opposed to granite. I am looking for something durable and preferably nonporous. Can you tell me if I can achieve both a more modern look with this product for my bar area, and a warm look for the bathroom? Also, cost-wise, which would be the smarter choice?
Thank you! - Jami

A: Dear Jami, Well...of course I am a big fan of Caesarstone because of their colors, durability and mainly the consistency. If you want a contemporary look, I think you should explore the new patterns and colors. You will be pleasantly surprised with all of the design options! Caesarstone, which, by the way is a natural material, is a better value overall than granite because it does not need to be sealed and your installer will not have to waste material by cutting around undesirable parts of patterns. There are so many textures and patterns to choose from that it never has to look like the same material twice.

Black Croc Caesarstone
Images: Caesarstone
Bathroom Caesarstone
Image: Caesarstone

Affordable Kitchen Renovations

Q: Hi Jamie, Where would you recommend cutting costs on a kitchen renovation? Materials? Cabinetry? Appliances? Or is that a room not really to cut costs on? Thank you! - Jennifer

A: Hi Jennifer! As we know, the kitchen can be the most expensive renovation we will ever endure but that doesn't mean we should put if off. There are so many great cabinet systems now - some extremely reasonable - so I would save money on your cabinets and possibly dress the doors with cool hardware. High-end appliances can not only make your cooking easier, but they are smart investments, good for resale and at the same time can be strong design statements, so that is a good place to spend. Countertops and floor materials should be well thought out as these are the biggest fields of color and texture and picking something easy to clean and timeless in style will save you money down the road as they won't have to be replaced.

Kitchen Towel Holder
Image: Houzz
Kitchen Neon
Image: iDesignArch

Meet This Week's Expert: Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington is best known as the Emmy-award winning host of "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" and the co-Host of ABC Daytime's "The Revolution." He has been recognized as a home design expert, carpenter and leader in the field of volunteerism.

This Week's Topic: DIY & Home Projects

Ty will be answering your questions about how to accomplish do-it-yourself and home projects.

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