By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

Marsala, Radiant Orchid, Emerald, Tangerine Tango, Honeysuckle–Sounds like a wonderful garden party, doesn’t it?  Well these are much more than aspects of some well-planned soiree.  These are just some of the Pantone Color of the Year ‘queens’ of the past.

Each year, around this time, the designers of the world sit on the edge of their seats with baited breath awaiting Pantone’s announcement about the “best of the best” and naming the coming year’s Color of the Year.

It may seem like an odd thing to get excited about, but, in all reality, quite a bit rests on this selection.  For example this year’s Color of the Year was Marsala, a deep winey-brown with purple undertones and warmth that made one yearn for a fire and a good book.  This color was seen everywhere!  We saw it in wardrobe pieces, furniture, cars, small appliances, nail polish, etc.  Whether we know it or not, the Color of the Year plays huge into what our next year will look like.

The Color of the Year each time is selected from a palette of other colors that Pantone announces yearly around October.  The palette this year includes such descriptive titles as: Snorkel Blue, Rose Quartz, Peach Echo, Serenity, Buttercup, Limpet Shell, Lilac Gray, Fiesta, Iced Coffee and Green Flash.

The process to select the entire palette, not to mention which one will be named the Color of the Year, is a much researched and grappled with decision.  There are a number of things that are considered including: the economy, the world political stage, the major current events, influencers (people who are doing important things right now) and trends.

My friend and colleague, Kelly DuByne, of Distinctive Interior Designs, and myself love to take on the challenge each year of trying to guess which color will make Pantone’s top spot and be named the Color of the Year.  After conducting our own research here are our predictions for 2016:

Kelly’s picks (written by Kelly herself):

I studied the Pantone Spring Fashion Trend report, reviewed Fashion Week reviews, read blogs, studied the colors at the stores, reviewed magazines and looked at trends in the housewares and building industry to come up with these choices.

My runner up choice is Rose Quartz-a light-hearted, pinky hued neutral.  I think neutrals always play an important role in all things design.  Even in my world of color, I prefer and am most comfortable dressed in a variety of neutral hues.  Rose quartz is serene but has warmth to it.

My choice for color of the year is Snorkel Blue.  While blues can be stately and calming, this hue of blue is lively and exciting, and reminds me of sea glass and accents at a beach house.  Regardless, this will be a fun color to add into décor from pillows to even furniture and tile.

Marlie’s picks:

After looking back at the past Color of the Year selections, reviewing the runways from Milan, Miami, Paris and New York, looking over the Pantone Color Forecast, reading blogs, reading magazines, etc. –Here are my predictions:

My second choice is the Snorkel Blue.  I am loving this color!  It has a depth to it that pulls you in.  This hue is a deep turquoise-blue with subtle yellow undertones.  It is reminiscent of limpid pools of mountain spring water and will add a shock of vibrancy and color to any design.

My first choice is the Lilac Gray.  This hue offers the cool of gray and blue yet has warmth exuding from it.  I appreciate that this color can read as both a neutral gray and a pop of lilac purple depending on the application you use it in.  It would be lovely paired with blues, taupes and grays.

Watch for our blog in January where we will discuss which color Pantone did name as the 2016 Color of the Year and where we will reveal how close we were in our predictions.

2016 predictions Graphics Credit: Pantone






The Ups and Downs of Stairs

October 20, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger

There are few things that add impact to a person’s perception of a home’s value like stairs do. Whether it’s the stairs leading up to the front door or interior stairs from one floor to the next, they speak volumes about the care and maintenance of the residence.

Think about the last time you were someplace and noticed the stairs. Were they rickety, chipped and should have had a caution sign across them or were they large, well-polished, grandiose, and welcoming?  Did they say, “You can trust me to take you to the next level” or were they rather whispering, “You can try me, but I make no promises you’ll arrive in one piece”?

The fact that stairs are so important, not only for the aesthetics of the dwelling but also for the safety of the beings using them, truly means we should pay more attention to these architectural wonders.

The following is a well-rounded, brief study of what our stairs are composed of.

The Parts:

Stairs, as with everything else in this world, are often looked at as merely the sum of their parts, but rarely are those parts thought about individually. If we are to have a greater appreciation of the stairs in our homes, we really need to know more about what comprises them.

There are six primary components to stairs:

  • Treads: The flat part we step on.
  • Riser: The vertical part/space between the treads.
  • Stringers: The sides that keep the treads and risers together.
  • Balustrade: The vertical parts that hold up the handrails.
  • Handrails: The part we hold onto when we are ascending/descending the stairs.
  • Landings: Large sections of flat areas between flights of stairs.

The Styles:

Stairs are not a one size (or in this case, style) fits all component. The variety of stair styles are as diverse as the Stairspersonalities of the people using them.  Picking the right stair for your home can be both fun and challenging all at the same time.

First off let’s talk about the difference between Standard, Custom and Designer stairs.

Standard stairs are the stairs we find in most new construction.  They are built from stock parts and are utilitarian at best.  They have all the standard parts, but are not unique.  Typically builders use stairs like these in homes as they are inconspicuous, are non-offensive and serve their purpose.

Custom stairs are constructed from non-standard parts to achieve a more custom look.  These are usually used in higher-end new construction homes, built by builders who want their homes to appeal to buyers with more refined tastes.  These finished stairs generally have a more upscale look about them as they are built to the space and not to a generic plan.

Designer stairs are stairs that have been designed to add a unique element to the space and are usually comprised of high-end components and finishes.  They are used in homes that are being built by a builder for a specific homeowner and are typically designed by an architectural designer.

Some General styles of stairways are:

Contemporary: Stairs with well-defined lines in a solid light colored material or a combination of materials.

Modern: Stairs with clean lines in a style that is minimal and straight forward.  These stairs can be designed from any material as long as in the modern style.

Luxury: Stairs that are usually designed with higher-end materials.  They are custom designed to fit the space and style of the home and are usually wider than traditional staircases.

Traditional: Stairs constructed of a traditional all wood approach.  Often this style is found to be finished with square newel posts and painted balusters and risers.

Glass or metal: Stair cases made of glass or metal are increasingly popular right now.  They can either read as modern or industrial and are frequently found in high-end homes, condos and apartments.

The Finishes:

We all know that the devil is in the details and stairs, again, are no exception. There are so many different finishes we can add to stairs that it would take a small book to cover all of them.  For the sake of this blog we will only cover some of the most popular ones.

Carpet: Carpet on stairs was extremely popular for the better part of the 20th century.  As we headed into the new millennium, we saw less and less carpet and more hard surfaces being used.  Well, as with all things, carpet is coming around again.  It might not look like the wall-to-wall variety we remember from our childhoods, but it is growing in popularity.  Whether it is just a stair runner or actually a permanent low-pile Berber, you can expect to see carpet being used again.

Hardwood/laminate: As we just mentioned, hard surfaces have been the preferred stair treatment for builders for a number of years now.  The beauty of a hardwood/laminate finish on stairs is that they are easy to clean and won’t show the wear that carpet will.  The downside to this treatment is that it can be noisy if not installed correctly.  However, if you use professionals who know how to properly install hard surfaces of stairs, a high-end product with a quality underlayment and have a solid substructure, this is a great option.

Glass: Glass stairs are a unique way to get the function of the staircase without losing a line-of-sight.

Metal: Metal stairs again can be noisy, but if you opt for a heavier gage metal they can also be one of the quietest options.

Painted Wood: Painted wood stairs are seen frequently in contemporary and traditional style homes.  We often times see a painted riser and a natural stained wood tread or vise versa.

Tiled: Tiled stairs are most frequently found in areas of the world with warmer climates.  Tile remains cool to the touch and can help give some comfort to bare feet.  Tile is also easy to clean and, as it is actually adhered to the substructure, less noisy than some other options.

The Handrails:

Handrails can be anything from a piece of heavy ship rope threaded through brass grommets to a polished piece of extra-long driftwood to a standard big-box store stock handrail. Handrails are the ‘necklaces’ of the staircase.  They are long and elegant or fun and whimsical.  They can say, ‘We are here for business.’ or ‘We just want to have fun.’  They may be more traditional or a lot less traditional.  The importance of the handrail is not in what they look like, as much as, that they do their job and are stable enough to provide balance for people walking down the stairs.

The ‘Accessories’:

We’ve talked about all of the main staircase details, but what about the details that will make the stairs unique to our home? Here are a few to ponder.

Paint: Instead of painting your risers white, why not paint them a color or a variety of colors.  Have you heard the term Ombra?   It’s a color technique where you use the same color but it gradually gets lighter as it goes from one end to the other.  So you may want to use this idea on your stairs.  Paint the bottom riser a dark hue and then the next riser a lighter color and the next a lighter hue yet, etc.,  all while using the same color, but just adding white to it before painting the next riser.

Murals/stencils: You might want to get creative and stencil a pattern on the riser or try your hand at a mural.

Tiles: We talked about tiled treads, but what about just tiling the riser.  You can either use small mosaic tile or larger tile.  This gives the stairs a great finished look and provides opportunity for you to customize them.

We hope this has been a helpful overview of stairs, what they are comprised off, their styles and finishing options. You may want to try some of these ideas in your home.






Cabinets—Where to Begin?

September 15, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Everything, including the kids’ snacks, the everyday dinnerware, grandma’s gravy boat, the laundry detergent, bath towels, blow-dryers, and on and on and on, need a place to be housed. That’s right! We as consumers have a huge amount of ‘stuff’ to be stored. Walk into any home’s kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, etc. […]

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Plan Your Remodel Like A Pro: Schedule, Budget, Love It!

July 21, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Couples start to plan for their weddings at least a year in advance.  They select photographers, florists, caterers, the officiant, seamstresses, tux rental shops, D.J.s, etc. for a single day event.  They worry and fret about every little detail, yet when it comes to major construction on their homes people often times […]

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Powder Rooms: They will never be palatial!

June 16, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Recently while brainstorming some blog inspirations I came across this idea for a piece: “10 color choices that will make your powder room feel larger” and I laughed OUT LOUD!  I have to shake my head every time someone thinks that a powder room can be made to feel larger with a […]

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Garnering New Décor From Old (Also a Review of Chalk Paint)

May 19, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger The moans from the backseat are loud, eyes are rolling and heads flop lifelessly forward.  My children are protesting my need to visit some random free pile on the side of the road.  They have grown tired of my countless stops at these subtle prize heaps.  They don’t see the appeal of […]

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When Interior Design and Waffles Collide—Something has to give!

May 5, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Upon returning from dropping my children off at school today I was struck by the wonderful warm, undeniable smell of waffles and maple syrup that wafted through our home.  An unmistakable remnant of my children’s busy active morning and the breakfast they had consumed.  I felt an instant bolt of love surge […]

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Gardens Need Makeovers too!

April 21, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row. We all remember this rhyme from our childhood.  It was usually chanted while holding hands with our little friends and dancing around in a circle under the warm spring smile […]

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Ahhhhhh Spring! Ehhhhhhh the Patio!

April 7, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger The twittering birds are here again, the sun is up earlier and setting later, the days are warmer and the flowers are blooming: It must be spring! If you are anything like me this time of year energizes you.  I start to feel excited to do some cleaning and decorating and refreshing […]

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Wine with Everything!

March 24, 2015

By Marlie Bilbruck-Boerger As you have probably already heard, or at least read in a not too distant blog post of mine, Marsala is the Pantone 2015 color of the year.  This color is rich, deep and warm and was a fabulous choice by Pantone, but it got me thinking about all of the ‘wine’ […]

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