Your Dream Home Summer 2022

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The Frederick News-Post


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décor Sara and Peter O’Keefe’s cat Tropic, a rescue tabby from the Bahamas, inspired designer Barry Dixon to create a dining room based on her colors. KATHERINE FREY PHOTOS

Feline Inspired Divine Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere. Even Your Cat.


hen you meet Tropic, a ginger cat from the Bahamas, you don’t immediately think of her orange stripes as a source of design inspiration. But when it came time for Sara and Peter O’Keefe to pick out colors for their Washington dining room with designer Barry Dixon, the color of their rescue kitty felt like a natural place to begin. The cat reminds them and their two children of tropical sunsets and fun times from a 2017 vacation to Lyford Cay in the Bahamas. Now the terra-cotta, pumpkin and coral room does, too. “Tropic is the coolest cat there is and a real people person,” Sara says. “She spreads out all around the house. The kids adore her.” In decorating, inspiration is everything. Yes, you can just throw a bunch of furniture and matchymatchy accessories together in a room and live in it. But if you build a room around a specific treasured item or feeling, you will create a place that really captures your personality. “Many things help to tell the story of a room,” says Newton, Massachusetts, designer Liz Caan. “Typically, I try to focus on a feeling and then support that story with personal items that a client has.” Those pieces could include an antique or a favorite piece of art. “Every single thing we specify,

4 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022

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design and collect for a space plays a role and helps support the story and the feeling,” she adds. New York designer Alfredo Paredes says it’s important to talk to a client “about what they are dreaming” of for a space. He once worked with someone who wanted his cliffside Caribbean beach house to feel “like you spent the whole day in the sun and you jumped out of the shower and, still with wet hair, put on a pair of white shorts.” That idea became a jumping-off point for Paredes’s vision for the place, which he describes as “a beach house in Mykonos where you are barefoot” and looking down at the sand and the water. Interior designers can find inspiration in just about anything: museums, travel, fashion, movies — or even Instagram. Some clients show decorators a sentimental item that informs the color palette, spirit or style of a room. It could be the purple and gold of a favorite Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt, a hand-woven textile from a Santa Fe, New Mexico, flea market or the sparkly gray mineral in a prized gemstone collection. Then, of course, there are pets.

Wood floors have been chosen to match the sandy color of a Labrador; Tropic naps in a sunny window on a bench upholstered in a suzani-like fabric (Fabricut’s Helike Medallion) embroidered in the colors of her fur. When Dixon met the O’Keefes, Tropic came to the door to greet him. The cat quickly became part of the conversation about colors for the space. “We came up with a lot of Caribbean sky colors and textures,” Dixon says, but it was the zesty colors of the cat that really spoke to the family. “We took the colors of the orange tabby and then added pale blue and sea grass,” he says. Dixon enveloped the room’s walls in color and pattern using Morris & Co.’s Acorn wallpaper. He added Phillip Jeffries’ Chromatic in orange opalescent on the ceiling. “When we look at Tropic, we think of the Bahamas,” Sara says. “The dining room is full of that energy.” A few years ago, Richmond designer Janie Molster saw a flowing pink-and-red silk dress online from Brandon Maxwell that she just had to have. “That is one of my favorite color combinations,” Molster says. “It seemed like an incredibly comfortable

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dress that looks elegant but not stuffy.” That’s the same vibe that Molster cultivates in her renovated 1903 farmhouse in the city’s West End, which she uses as a design testing ground for her decorating work. “My house is in constant flux,” Molster says. “Nothing is ever really finished or done. It’s an ongoing laboratory.” She had that dress in mind as she put together bold Moroccan rugs, vintage Murano glass lamps, a fauxfur-covered bench and pink paint (Benjamin Moore’s Confetti) for her den. The linen slipcovered Lee sofa has a red-and-pink suzani-style quilt on it. Everything is comfortable and durable, because she has five children and four grandchildren, and she loves to have friends over. Turning to her closet for inspiration was a no-brainer for Molster, who often looks to a client’s fashion choices when determining colors, patterns and textures for a room. She writes about that in her recent book, “House Dressing: Interiors for Colorful Living.” Using fashion, Molster says, “takes a little bit of confusion and intimidation out of people’s design decisions. You make a design decision every day of your life when you grab

your clothes out of your closet.” “I’m drawn to the combo of pink and red together. Growing up with a sister, my mother’s perspective on our color preferences was that I was a pink lover while my sister preferred red,” Molster adds. “I remember the day it occurred to me that I didn’t need to choose. I could have it all.” Molster says that she is always drawn to the den and that it can transform her mood. “When I’m here in this room, it doesn’t matter whether it’s freezing or hot out,” she says. “It’s always warm and happy in here.” Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was devastating for designer Penny Francis, who owns the New Orleans shop Eclectic Home. Years later, an unexpected treasure that surfaced from that painful period became the inspiration for her grandson’s nursery. “My entire family was affected,” she says. “All of our homes were flooded to some degree.” Her own two-story bungalow, which she shared with her husband and daughters Casi, then 17, and Camryn, then 4, took on three feet of water that stayed in the house for 10 days. “With 100 percent humidity and 95-degree weather, the house was completely entrenched with mold and mildew and had to be gutted,” Francis says. The girls lost virtually everything in their rooms. After a three-year renovation, the family moved back in. Life went on, Casi got married, and just before the pandemic, she got pregnant. “It was both a joyous and scary time,” Francis says. A bright spot was working with her daughter in designing a nursery. “I wanted it to be a really happy place that reflected back to when she was little,” Francis says. ­— The Washington Post Summer 2022 | YOUR DREAM HOME 5


DIY or Don’t Which is Right for Your remodel?


Outsource plumbing, HVAC, electrical work

do-it-yourself remodel can be a budget-friendly way to freshen up your home. For some projects, it may take just a few YouTube videos to show you how to modernize your space. But not every project is right for amateur renovators. Your skill level, budget and how important the project is to your home’s value can all be deciding factors in whether to call a professional. Here are home remodel projects you can probably DIY, and those that are better left to experts.

It’s best to let experts handle systems that make your house function, like the electrical, plumbing and HVAC system, Egner says. This work often involves permits and background knowledge, and the cost of a misstep can be high. Lovery is willing to knock down walls in her home, but she makes room in her budget to outsource some work, saving potential headaches down the road.

DIY the floors and walls

Aminah Chung and her husband Bernard, who share their DIY projects on social media, updated their Phoenixarea home’s master bedroom and pantry, and built a playhouse for their kids. Starting in small spaces or trying simple changes, like paint or paneling on a wall, can help you build confidence for bigger rooms, Aminah Chung says. With a little extra research, installing new floors can be a spare-time project, says San Diego-based DIYer Liz Lovery. She and her husband, a former structural engineer, installed laminate flooring in their home. “Things like that might feel overwhelming, but they aren’t,” she says. “They’re very attainable, and it can actually save you a lot of money in the long run.” Tools can be a significant portion of your DIY budget, says Chris Egner, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Add those costs to your budget, and ask if the tools are worth the investment, he says. 6 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022


A workman cuts sections of a bean at a housing site in Madison County, Miss., on March 16. When planning a remodeling project, one of the first questions you may ask is whether you can save money and just do it yourself. With enough optimism, any project can seem possible, but a whole-home remodel may be too ambitious. Use caution in kitchens and bathrooms

Homeowners should consider their skills before committing to a full DIY kitchen or bathroom remodel, Lovery says, because those spaces are often essential to your home’s value. Some things, like painting the cabinets, may be within reach. But if you need new cabinets installed and you don’t feel confident about accurately measuring for them, Lovery says it may be worth using a professional to get a quality finished product. Using a contractor for a kitchen or bath remodel might cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Egner says their knowledge of building codes and design best practices may end up saving you money because they’ll do the job correctly. The project may also finish faster, Brown says, since a professional can coordinate

Resources ■ National Association of the Remodeling Industry: Find a NARI Remodeler remodelers ■ How do home improvement loans work?

electricians and plumbers, avoiding “a real nightmare” of potential delays if you do it yourself. The Chungs have two kids and full-time jobs, so a DIY kitchen remodel would take a lot longer, Aminah Chung says. “I believe in doing the projects that you can do so that you can save the money for the projects you don’t necessarily want to do,” she says.

Managing home improvement costs

If you’re still undecided, have a contractor write up an estimate and compare it with your DIY budget, Egner says. You can search for professionals on the NARI website. He also recommends adding about 10% to 20% to your budget for unexpected expenses, which are inevitable with DIY and professional projects. Cash is the interest-free way to pay for home improvement projects, but if you don’t have enough available, shop around to find the best financing. Home equity loans and lines of credit offer low interest rates and long repayment terms, which keep monthly payments low, but it could take a few weeks to a month to get approved. Personal loans have higher rates and shorter repayment terms, meaning your monthly payments are higher, but the debt is often cleared sooner. With these loans, you can typically get funds in a week or less. ­— NerdWallet A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

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Reimagine Your Space How the Pandemic Changed Our Concept of Home



The family’s former dining room was converted into a second living room with a mini wood-burning stove designed to fit into a coal-burning fireplace. 8 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022

eid and Heather Collier love their home. Located in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Museum District, the 2,024-square-foot Victorian was a sanctuary during the pandemic. The couple strung up a hammock under the shade of the big magnolia in the backyard, where the family enjoyed picnics and their son played in the sandbox. As the pandemic wore on, though, the Colliers didn’t particularly like their house. They couldn’t stop seeing all the things that needed attention: paint colors they didn’t like, a lack of storage in the kitchen. And with the addition of their second child and both parents working from home, they felt squeezed, at times bumping up against the confines of the house: Their active toddler kept bonking his head on the glass-top dining table. The Colliers had to reassess their domestic situation from top to bottom. They painted, renovated a bathroom, added shelving, built a patio, updated the landscaping. And after a particularly hard collision with that dining table, they decided it was more important for their kids to have room to play than to have formal dinner. The dining room became a second living room.

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Heather and Reid Collier of Richmond, Va., with children Rye, left, and Zuzu. For the past two years, homes have had to work overtime, serving as schools, offices and gyms. We were confronted with the brokenness of our homes — the leaky faucet, the dated sofa, the patchy lawn — and the limits of our walls. The rush to buy real estate in the suburbs and rural areas was about gaining existential square footage as much as physical. We craved space, places for our children and our minds to wander. Impossibly tight housing markets prompted many to stay put and make the most of their dwellings. Renovations and furniture sales soared; home design shifted to accommodate the new rhythms of people’s lives. Life turned inward, and living spaces changed too, accelerating movements toward wellness at home, nostalgia and maximalism

that were already underway. For families like the Colliers, the adjustments they’ve made have proved beneficial for their family dynamic and allowed them to settle in comfortably for the long haul. “If you put the work into your home, you really feel like being there,” Reid says. Boundaries have been in short supply the past two years, especially in the home. Bedrooms became offices, dining rooms became schools. Family roles morphed as parent became teacher, child became colleague. Work time, school time, mealtime often bled together into one long, chaotic slog without the physical and mental demarcations that helped make sense of the day. And 9-to-5 became a thing of the past.

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around the house

Illuminating Trends Guide to Outdoor Lighting



ighting is an essential component of interior and exterior home design. Not only does lighting add style and make spaces more appealing, when done correctly, it also makes a home safer and more functional. Homeowners who plan to utilize outdoor spaces like backyards, front porches and walkways to the fullest should think carefully about lighting. These guidelines can assist with selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

Security lighting

Flood lights and security lights are a good investment for those who want to beef up visibility and security around the home. These lights are high-intensity and designed to illuminate large areas. The brightness and reach can serve as a preventive measure to keep animals and even criminals away. Motion-sensor lights will 10 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022

Additional pointers

immediately engage if something crosses the path of the sensor. Some lights will remain on from dusk until dawn. Lowes Home Improvement suggests using the correct wattage on outdoor security lights so they flood an area thoroughly without affecting neighboring properties.

that is not too bright and jarring, especially when multiple lighting fixtures are working together. When selecting lighting for wall-mounted fixtures, experts suggest sizing up if you are not sure of the size to pick, as lights will look much smaller in scale from a distance.

Wall, post and ceiling lights

Accent and landscape lighting

Outdoor lighting fixtures beyond security options come in a variety of styles, according to Lamps USA. Wall lights are mounted to the outdoor wall of the home. These typically flank doorways or the garage. Post lights are often installed on the posts of decks and porches, or are free-standing on properties, providing visibility but also style. Ceiling-mounted lights may be above doorways or installed in any structure that has an overhead area. Warm-colored temperature bulbs in these fixtures can create an inviting atmosphere

A bevy of accent lighting choices are available. Accent lighting is designed to enhance the mood and appearance of certain elements of a landscape. Accent lighting is not intended to add bright light. For example, upward-directed lights can be cast on trees or shrubs to accentuate their shapes. Accent lighting also may call out a structure, such as a garden or a fountain. While accent lighting may be hard-wired, homeowners who want the luxury of changing lighting can opt for solar fixtures, which are more mobile but not as bright.

When shopping for bulbs, consider the number of lumens. A standard 100-watt bulb produces around 1,600 lumens. Security lights should range from 700 to 1,300 lumens for optimal brightness. Other lights needn’t be so bright. Furthermore, ensure that any fixtures that are being used are safety-rated for outdoors. Wet-rated fixtures are designed to withstand direct exposure to outdoor elements, advises the design experts at Schoolhouse, a lighting and lifestyle goods company. Damp-rated fixtures are built for outdoor locations protected from harsh weather. Look for the product details or work with an electrician to choose the right lighting choices. Lighting can transform outdoors spaces for the better. — Metro

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Room With a View W

How to Host the Ultimate Watch Party

atch parties provide great opportunities to get together with friends and family. Such gatherings can be centered around Hollywood awards shows, sporting events or even the finale of a popular television series. Regardless of what’s being watched, hosts can employ various strategies to make the party as fun and memorable as possible for themselves and their guests. • Stock up on food and drinks. Even if the festivities won’t include a sit-down dinner, stock up on food and drinks so no one goes hungry or thirsty. If the event you’re watching is slated to begin shortly after dinnertime, consider hosting a potluck pre-event dinner. A potluck dinner helps take some of the burden off of hosts and the pre-event meal can be a great time to share thoughts and theories about the event everyone is there to watch. Provide plenty of nonalcoholic beverages like water, soda, tea, and coffee as well. Alcoholic beverages can be served, but hosts should keep everyone’s consumption to a minimum to ensure guests make it home safe. • Prepare some eventspecific treats. Some eventspecific treats like cookies that look like baseballs or desserts designed to mimic the appearance of an awards show statuette can inject a little something extra into the party. • Send guests home with event-specific party favors. Event-specific party favors also can be a nice touch that guests won’t soon forget. If

12 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022


you’re gathering to watch a big game on the gridiron, pass out foam fingers with league or team logos. If it’s the finale of a beloved television series, hand out show-related mementos that allude to a specific and important episode, character or plot point in the show’s history. • Make sure everyone has a seat and some space. Before inviting guests, conduct a reasonable assessment of your viewing space and determine how many guests can fit and sit comfortably in the space. Events like games and awards shows

tend to last several hours, and guests will want a comfortable seat and a little space to spread out. Tailor the size of your guest list to your available space. • Upgrade your tech. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many watch parties, and in the interim hosts’ tech might have fallen a bit behind the times. Shop around for new items if your television could be a few inches larger or your surround sound system could use an upgrade to make any audiophile proud. Guests will appreciate the high-quality

images and sound, and hosts will enjoy the upgrades long after the party has ended. • Fill the down time. A television show watch party may not have much down time, but games and awards shows will have some breaks in the action. Some fun games like bingo can keep guests engaged even when the action on the screen slows down. Hosts can up the fun factor of watch parties with a few simple strategies to make the festivities feel unique. — Metro

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around the house


How to Pick the Right Trees for Your Property


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rees benefit a landscape by serving both aesthetic and utilitarian functions. A home surrounded by healthy green trees can be a sight to behold, and those same trees can benefit surrounding plants and wildlife at the same time. As appealing as trees are, not all trees and landscapes make for the perfect match. The Arbor Day Foundation notes the importance of planning when designing a landscape. Planning ensures the trees homeowners ultimately choose for their properties will grow well in the soil and moisture present in their yards. Careful consideration of a handful of variables can help homeowners determine which trees will make the best fit for their properties.

• Height: Homeowners must consider the projected height of a tree before planting it. Avoid trees that will bump into anything when fully grown, as that can adversely affect surrounding greenery and pose a safety hazard. The ADF’s tree sizing guide can be accessed at arborday. org/trees/rightTreeAndPlace/size.cfm and serves as an invaluable resource for homeowners who want to plant new trees around their properties. • Canopy spread: Trees grow out as well as up, so it’s important to consider their potential width at maturity as well. The ADF sizing guide can help homeowners get an idea of how wide a tree is likely to be at maturity. Trees that spread out quite a bit don’t necessarily need to be avoided, but it’s important that they’re planted far enough apart so they don’t adversely affect surrounding plants. In addition, wide trees that are planted too close together can make the landscape appear crowded, taking something away from its aesthetic appeal. • Growth rate: Growth rate is an important variable because it can affect how quickly homeowners will see changes in their landscapes. Homeowners who want to plant for privacy can consider trees with quick growth rates or purchase more mature trees that are already near full growth. Those who are not in need of instant transformation can try trees with slower growth rates, which the ADF notes typically live longer than fast-growing species. — Metro A special supplement to The Frederick News-Post

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3 Popular Styles

In Home Interiors METRO


onsiderable thought goes into designing a home’s interior. From which color to paint the walls to the size of the living room couch, homeowners must make a variety of decisions when planing their home interiors. One way to simplify interior design decisions is to choose a style. Interior design styles run the gamut from traditional to modern, and each style has its own unique look and feel. Though homeowners need not feel beholden to any particular item associated with a given style, three of the more popular styles, traditional, modern and farmhouse, each have certain key components that can ensure a home ends up with a look homeowners are aiming for.

14 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022

1. Traditional

Homes with a traditional interior style give a formal yet welcoming feel. Many individuals associate crown molding and wainscotting with traditional interiors, so that’s something homeowners aiming for this style should keep in mind. Minimal or modern furniture pieces don’t fit with the traditional style, which tends to utilize period pieces made from real wood.

modern that call to mind a bygone era but don’t make individuals feel as though they’re living in a museum. Urban modern is another popular modern style, and home interiors fashioned in this style tend to be light, airy and not crowded with furnishings. Calm, soft tones are a go-to with urban modern interiors, helping to create the serene settings many homeowners are hoping to create with this style.

2. Modern

3. Farmhouse

Modern interiors may differ depending on which style of modern homeowners are aiming for. Midcentury modern typically features unique furnishings that some might see as retro. However, many companies now offer updated takes on midcentury

Farmhouse has become very popular in recent years. In fact, a recent survey from the interior design service Modsy found that farmhouse was the most popular design style in 26 states. Farmhouse is beloved for a variety of reasons, not the least of which

is its association with a simpler lifestyle. The rustic charm of the countryside is never far from the mind when in a home with a farmhouse-inspired interior. Traditional farmhouse and modern farmhouse are different styles, but natural materials and bright colors, particularly white walls, are elements shared by both. Traditional, modern and farmhouse are three popular home interior styles. Each has its own unique components, and homeowners can supplement their favored style as they see fit. Three of the more popular styles, traditional, modern and farmhouse, each have certain key components that can ensure a home ends up with a look homeowners are aiming for. — Metro

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Popular Kitchen Flooring Materials

itchens have long been considered the most popular gathering spaces in a home. That popularity compels millions of homeowners to renovate their kitchens each year, and the return on those investments is often significant. A number of variables, including the value of neighboring homes and how quickly homeowners sell their homes after a renovation, affect the return on investment with a given project. According to Remodeling magazine’s “2021 Cost vs. Value Report,” homeowners recouped roughly 72 percent of their investment in a minor kitchen remodel at resale. That’s a sizable return that outperformed other popular upgrades, including vinyl siding replacement and wood deck additions. When renovating kitchens, homeowners will have to consider various components within the room, including the floors. Average flooring costs can be hard to calculate because they depend so heavily on homeowners’ choice of materials. The following are some popular flooring materials that homeowners can consider as they plan to renovate their kitchens. • Vinyl: Vinyl flooring is popular thanks in large part to its cost. According to the home remodeling experts at HomeAdvisor, vinyl flooring installation is much less costly than other types of flooring. But its budget-friendliness is not the only benefit of vinyl flooring, which HGTV notes is easy to clean, making it an ideal

16 YOUR DREAM HOME | Summer 2022


choice for families that routinely confront spills and stains. HomeAdvisor notes that vinyl is the best waterproof material among all kitchen floors. • Porcelain/ceramic tile: HomeAdvisor reports that the average cost to install porcelain or ceramic tile flooring is between $885 and $2,994. That’s less than the average cost to install stone or wood flooring. Porcelain or ceramic tiles can be slippery when they get wet, though HGTV notes that some porcelain flooring tiles have been certified as slip-resistant by the Americans with Disabilities Act. • Hardwood: It’s hard to beat hardwood when it comes

to aesthetic appeal. Hardwood can be especially suitable in homes with open-concept floor plans that already have hardwood floors in surrounding rooms. HomeAdvisor notes that hardwood flooring installation can be costly, which might make it a less realistic option for budget-conscious homeowners. According to HGTV, engineered wood planks may be something to consider in the kitchen, as these are designed to be less susceptible to humidity and temperature. That’s an important component to consider in the kitchen, where temperatures can fluctuate while meals are being prepared.

• Stone: Natural stone tile is another popular kitchen flooring material. HomeAdvisor traces that popularity to its wide variety of styles and price points, which make it a realistic option for homeowners working with budgets big and small. Stone tiles also provide a unique look because no two look the same, which might appeal to homeowners who want their kitchen floors to create a one-ofa-kind impression. Kitchen flooring materials vary widely. That variety ensures there’s a material for any style and budget homeowners are working with. — Metro

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Summer 2022 | YOUR DREAM HOME 17

SPACES, continued from 9

When gyms shuttered in 2020, many people needed somewhere to work out at home, which meant adding equipment and installing mirrors. As D.C.-based designer Zoe Feldman found, clients didn’t just want an attractive, functional area to exercise in. They wanted a separate one. “They need to have a dedicated space — and the kids also don’t play in there and the husband doesn’t man-cave in there,” says Feldman. “You can have those boundaries within our home and with your family too. When Mommy is working out then this is Mommy’s space and Mommy’s time. It helps with the ability to spend more time in our homes.” “Drawing the line — it’s more important now than ever,” Feldman adds. “We are asking so much of our homes, and we are living in our homes in such a harder and deeper way.” After more than a year of working side by side at the same table, in a cramped guest room surrounded by baby gear and clothes, the Colliers


Reid Collier and Rye on their front porch. decided to put a pint-size studio in the backyard. Designed by Reid, the studio added just 119 square feet but offered a new world: a quiet place for Heather, an ad agency executive producer and vice president, to conduct calls with clients and a workbench to tinker with jewelry for her vintage-fashion side hustle.

It also gave Reid, a creative director, a distraction-free place to do his graphic design work. The studio “allows us to concentrate, which we haven’t been able to do at home,” Reid says. “The act of leaving the house and walking across the yard — there’s a change that comes over you. Now I’m in a

creatively dedicated zone.” While some boundaries within the home need to be rebuilt, at least one has been eagerly erased: the line between inside and outside. Confinement has caused many to turn our homes inside out, transforming outdoor areas into entertaining and dining hubs and taking interior design cues from nature. Memphis-based designer Carmeon Hamilton started her interior design career 14 years ago in the health-care sector, creating spaces for hospitals and nursing homes for dementia patients. She focused on stimulating memory, using color, texture and scent to activate the senses and energize the mind, and bringing the outdoors in — all techniques she has seen playing out in residential design for the past two years. “I was dealing with people who couldn’t escape years ago,” says Hamilton, now host of HGTV’s “Reno My Rental.” “And now most of the world can’t escape, and that’s been a huge part of design.” — The Washington Post



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