Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

Create an Art Wall

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Creating an art wall in your home is a great way to display multiple pieces in a group…and it’s not as hard as you might think.  Here are some step-by-step tips and photos to get you started.

Step 1:

Pick a wall for displaying your art and look through layout ideas on Pintrest.

Step 2:

Select a theme and stick with it.  Art walls work best when you decide on a central theme.  Here are some examples:

  • travel photos (see above photo)
  • kids art
  • family photos

Once you’ve selected the theme, pull out all options for the wall and narrow down to what’s important.  Select your favorites and make them larger if possible.  I prefer art/photos in different sizes because it moves the eye around the entire wall.  However, they could all be the same size if you are running them down a hallway and want it uniform.


Step 3:

Pick your frame style.  There are a few ways of doing this.  They could all be black or white if the art is all different or use different frames if the art relates to one another well.  Just keep something uniform throughout the wall.  So if you have all black and white photos, you could easily have many styles of frames or just use one color.  Here’s a beautiful shot from Christiane Lemieux (photo from Dwell Studio)…. showing different frames.  This works well because the art relates to each other.  The two pieces on the right both have red in them and all have some element of black and white.  Beautiful!


Step 4:

Print and layout all photos in their frames on the floor first.  This will allow you to easily arrange them many times before poking holes in your lovely walls.  If you can’t complete the hanging in one day or can’t decide on layout, take a picture of the layout options and see if you like it over the next hour or day.  Don’t worry too much about spacing.  In fact, if you don’t make it uniform, it will be much easier to hang!  Or you can fill the larger gaps with found objects (old keys, metal letters, etc).


Step 5:

Start hanging.  This can be tricky but I’ve found a few things that make it easier.  Purchase the sticky putty (you know, that stuff you used to hang posters as a kid).  Put it on the frame hook and press the frame onto the wall where you want it.  Then pull lightly, leaving the putty and the frame hook mark on the wall.  Now just position your nail where the hook mark is on the putty and nail through the putty.  Once nail is in, simply remove the putty and repeat.  I’ve also tried the Velcro strips.  These work well for smaller, lighter projects.  I personally wouldn’t use them above a bed on a heavy piece of art though.

Here are some other good resources:

Advice and pictures from Apartment Therapy.

No art?  Check out this site for ideas!


Hello, It’s Been a Long Time…

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Things have been busy over the past few months; it’s been hard finding the time to write.  So what’s been happening at Paradigm?  Here’s a briefing to bring you up to speed…

  • We are growing!  Well, my family that is.  My husband and I are expecting our first child in February.  We are super excited and will be sharing the transformation of the office/baby’s room as it progresses.  The space is small and challenging but I’m excited to share the results and ideas on making small spaces multi-functional.
  • I have started a furniture company, Artistory, to develop furniture designs that I’ve sketched over the years, up-cycle great market finds into a new life and create custom, one-of-a-kind pieces for my design clients.  It is a slow progress but the website will be up soon.  Until then, you can get a quick snippet of my first pieces on Pintrest.
  • We are now on Pintrest (Dawn Chau)!  I have started posting all great finds from magazines on Pintrest to share with you (instead of adding to my forever expanding binders in the office).  This helps me stay organized and will also be a place for you to see what inspires me.
  • I traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and the South of France at the end of September.  I was so inspired by the mosques and amazing people of Turkey.  I’ll be posting some pictures next Monday.

I hope that summer treated you well and you are beginning to nest for the fall.  Cheers!

A Kitchen Conundrum

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Having a love for cooking can test all our limits if we don’t have space to chop away.  One of my readers asked what could be done with her small London kitchen.   I have a few ideas so hopefully it will come to life one day.


The biggest problem in all smallish kitchens comes down to storage.  In this example, the valuable work space is being over-taken by ingredients required to prepare a great meal.  Additionally, the wall to the left is angled, preventing the easy install of some store bought shelves.  Here are some recommendations that will work in this kitchen and so many others.


  • Add shelving as sketched in the photo.  Although you’d never find shelves to fit this space, it would be worth every penny to have a couple custom shelves made to fit perfectly in the niche.  They could be free floating and slide on and off the bracket if the need ever arises to access the instant hot water unit on the right.
  • Decide what you want to showcase visually.  In this case, I’d move the glass jars that are too big for the shelves on the right to the new lower shelf on the back wall.  I would add smaller jars (replacing all the little bags under the right cabinet), following the angled wall.  Opening up the existing shelves on the right will allow for less visually appealing storage such as canned goods, etc that are better hidden.
  • Cookbooks work nicely in corners when you position the spine in the corner versus the face of the book against the wall.  If you have too many, just showcase your favorites and find a new home for the less used ones.  If you have any large appliances, they usually tuck nicely in corners too!
  • Cereal boxes could go on the top shelf on the back wall and continue to fill the smaller, angled space with either more jars or serving dishes.
  • On the counter, leaving a fruit bowl and a serving piece or two would work under the new shelves.


Other suggestions:

  • If you need to free up a drawer for cabinet, consider installing a peg board that you can hang pots, pans or utensils from.  
  • Add some very shallow shelves (with a lip) to an open wall to showcase your serving pieces.  The one below is very well done but it doesn’t need to be this ornate or built-in.


If you have any other clever ideas that you’ve created over the years, let us know.  We love hearing about your smart solutions.  Happy kitchen organizing!

Help for Cord Clutter

Friday, July 6th, 2012

We all have cords in our homes…but certain areas (desks, entertainment centers and nightstands) become easily overwhelmed by all our gadgets.  Here are some quick suggestions on how to manage all those crazy cords.

I’m currently working on a home where we want to hide the cords from a crawling baby.  We are going to create a thick baseboard to run them through.  I’ll post pictures when we are done.  Until then, here are some simple solutions to clean up the cord clutter in your home.

Because I share a printer in our office, I am constantly looking for the USB to plug into.  This holder from Blue Lounge would certainly help (as would a wireless printer).  Although one has to be careful to limit the amount of “helpers” so the desk doesn’t become cluttered.


Room and Board offers these simple yet very functional cord covers that run along your furniture edges and legs.  Very well designed.


If you are in need of running cords around a room, this idea works and is a decorative element for a kids room or play room.  From Apartment Therapy.


This clever little outlet cover would be great behind a nightstand.  Lamps usually have long cords and this would work nicely.


There are several ways you could label your cords if needed.  Need a very inexpensive solution?  Here it is!  Cute idea from Simply Placed for all those little bread “things” that get tossed into the trash.

Picture labels from Dotz.  They have several versions as well.





ICFF 2012

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Not having a lot of time to lollygag at ICFF, I noticed a few trends to share with you.  There were numerous woodworkers who all had beautiful products.  The one thing I kept noticing was that they love drawers in multiple sizes and configurations.  Here are some of my favorites.

Above is a cabinet with drawers from Portuguese design company Wewood.  Like the shelf detail at the base.

A similar cabinet from Richard Watson.  The pulls looked like thumbtacks; nice unusual detail.

Cabinet with beaded detailing on top and on the drawer reveals by Sami Hayek of Espacio.


Booth installations are always fun to admire.  I wonder how long it takes to set up some of these.  Two manufacturers, Hellman Chang (furniture) and Lindsay Adelman (lighting), had a piece of their actual workshop demonstrating work in progress; brilliant idea.  Anyone who wonders how things get made as much as I do must have loved this.  I bet next year we’ll see even more of this.  I was clearly so engrossed that I forgot to photograph BOTH of them!  Sigh…

Above is a tree that was made out of rope strung though a mesh “ceiling.”

Installation with a bench and shaded cover made from a somewhat translucent fabric called Xorel.  This was created by a collaboration of students.  It felt good to be under; almost like shade from a tree.

A photo from Amuneal Manufacturing‘s booth.  I’ve seen them before at ICFF and I always get “lost” in their booth.  It’s a beautiful, wonderland of the imagination.  They manufacturer displays and components for stores and have a very craftsman look that sucks me in.  Above is a wall of woodworking tools beautifully displayed.   Inspiration for storing my tools!

The picture above is small but these innovative light switches/organization helpers are from Upwell.  This was one of those products that I looked at and wondered, “Why hasn’t this been created before?”  These switch additions add a little organization right where we need them, by the front door.  I spoke with the creator and he’s looking for a manufacture to produce them…someone find this guy a manufacturer!

I always love lights that create a pattern on the wall or ceiling.  Above is a light from Absolut in Germany.  The bulb is in the middle (covered) and reflects through an etched pattern on the glass around the outside.

This fixture is from Lightexture (as is the picture).  The piece expands and contracts (like a metal veggie steamer) to project light up or down casting beautiful reflections on the surrounding surfaces.

Porcelain tiles from Kowa Collection caught my eye for the large format and texture they create.  They can be installed in numerous patterns on walls or glass.  This is more of an architectural element than a bath or kitchen backsplash tile.

A First Home in Denver

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I had hoped to be ready to post some “preliminary” shots of our new house, but didn’t want you all to think we are total slobs.  We have been in the new house for just over a week.  Step one was getting things out of boxes and into piles.  We have succeeded at that, but the next step of finding everything a home has been a bit trickier, so here are some photos to give you a feel for the space, but none of the belongings in the pictures are ours. Hence, my personal disclaimer:  I am going to cheat a bit with the first photos of our new home today.  These are the photos taken by the realtor and whoever staged our home prior to us buying it, so none of the furniture it ours – also, please note they used a wide angle lens so the spaces feel slightly larger than they really are.

I love this picture – our new place has tons of windows and light.  As you can see the space is long and fairly narrow – I can’t wait to paint and get some really fun carpet on the stairs.

Once in the door, this is your view directly to the right.  I am thinking this will be where our TV has to go and maybe a small chair in the corner by the window.

This is your view to the left of the door, essentially our living space.  It looks clean and simple with this furniture, but our pieces are slightly larger so I am going to have to play with it a bit.  A bold patterned rug is something I am looking for and a new light fixture or fan – I am undecided if we actually want a fan in this space or not.

This rectangular table fits nicely in the space, but ours is round.  It will be interesting to see how it fits.  We also have a large armoire that we want in this area to serve as a pantry since there isn’t one in the kitchen.

I love the island in the kitchen and the huge sink!  Our biggest issue is the limited number of cabinets and drawers.  We only have eight cabinets and five drawers.  Storage solutions will be my initial focus in this space.

The half bath downstairs is enormous and a poor use of space.  Down the road I would love to reconfigure it and add a pantry and coat closet.

The master bedroom has doors or windows on every wall, which makes using the space a bit more challenging.  I am hoping to get a dresser, two small night stands, and a little vanity table in here.

I will post another update in the next few weeks once our belongings are settled.  We are in the process of picking paint colors so I will keep you posted on that progress.  Until then…


April Showers…

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

The perfect topic for a gloomy day – these umbrella stands are sure to put a smile on your face when you step out of the rain and into your home.  From playful to traditional, there is sure to be one that fits your personality and style!  The fact that most of them are under $100 is just a bonus.  So go play in the rain and enjoy!

Room Re-do Contest!!!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Post pictures of or write about your LEAST favorite room in your home on our Facebook page for a chance to win a room re-do between now and February 20th!  Leave a brief description about what you dislike and why. Encourage friends to “like” your post.  The person with the most “likes” will win. The winner will be announced Monday, February 27th. Details are below!

5 Easy Steps:

1. Log into your Facebook account.

2. Find us on Facebook at:  

3. Click on “Photo” which is write next to “Post”.

 4. Select Upload a Photo

5. Click “Choose File” to select the image you want to upload

Contest Details:

- Submit photos of one room – post via your computer or phone to Facebook.

- Encourage friends and family to like your post and picture.  The person with the most “likes” will win.

- There are no restrictions on the location of the property.

*Winner will receive a room re-do. We start by rearranging your existing pieces of furniture to make the space more functional and visually appealing.  Next we can help you select paint colors, accessorize, and fall back in the love with your home!

- Winner will be announced February 27th via Facebook and our website/blog.  Pictures of the before and after will be posted on our blog upon completion.





Organizing Your Kitchen

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The kitchen is a gathering space.  Along with the friends and family who often congregate here, the kitchen is home to a million types of utensils, appliances, pots, pans, junk drawers, and much more.  The amount of “stuff” we accumulate in our kitchens can be overwhelming.  There are never enough nooks, crannies, cupboards, drawers, or shelves to put everything away.  Instead of trying to hide the things that make your kitchen a kitchen, consider a different way to store or display them.  They just might blend right in when given the right home in plain sight.

This is a beautifully simple kitchen.  Everyday items become the visual focal point from countertop to ceiling on butcher block shelves.

 I love the vintage table used as an island, open display of kitchen knives, and unique wall pattern that contrasts the plain white cabinets.

Try putting your coffee grounds, sugar, flour, and other household staples in glass jars instead of hiding them in cupboards.  The different colors and textures provide visual interest.

If you don’t have space on a shelf for your spices, try using the bottom side – buy matching jam jars with metal lids that you can tack to the underside of a shelf.

Warm up stainless steel with a few accents that bring your personality into the kitchen.

Pick two styles of containers/baskets that have different textures to organize open shelves.

Layer objects of varying size and scale.  Stack shelves of different lengths and widths to give a wall depth.

The perfect spot for every utensil.

Combine shelving and basic wall-hanging elements to create your own storage unit.

Now lets switch gears and put all of these pieces together.  Below are a selection of beautiful kitchens that caught my eye. Enjoy!!


How to Spice Up Your Bathroom

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

There are two spaces in a home that people want to remodel most: the kitchen and the bathroom.  Unless your home is a new-build, it is highly unlikely that you love every nook and cranny of your bathroom.  For most of us in older homes, condo’s and apartments, there are a number of things in this space we would like to change, but don’t have the budget or ability to follow through on.  Before you decide to blow up your bathroom and start from scratch, take a look at some of the beautiful abodes we found and our tips to take your bathroom from ho-hum to your personal sanctuary.

Warm and cozy, the collection of unique mirrors in this bathroom are tied together through a simple coat of paint.  Try finding a few mirrors that have interesting frames at garage sales or thrift stores, spray paint the frames to match, and voila, your own wall-feature is complete.

Mirrors also help small spaces feel larger and reflect the colors of their surroundings so there is less need for artwork.  The use of reclaimed wood, likely from a wood shop table in this case, offers a touch of nostalgia.

A chandelier can completely change the feel of a space.  I love this wire one, it adds dimension and a touch of the whimsical to the already soft color palette.

Are you a bookworm?  Then bring some of that love for literature into your bathroom.  These backlit shelves give a very simple room color and personality.  Accessorize the shelves with a few objects that pull out the brightest color in the space.

This look is clean and fresh.  The vintage wall-mounted mirror offers some open storage, as the pedestal sink and subway tile create a balance between matte and glossy finishes.

Love the use of an antique armoire and bold colored claw foot tub.  To get a little extra spice, try adding a cool printed paper, wallpaper, or fabric as the insert panel in your storage unit.  The one shown was likely a china cabinet with glass panels.  Try painting the outside of your old claw-foot tub.  Both are easy weekend DIY projects that could transform you bath quickly.

Yay storage!!  To the women reading this, show off your shoes and handbags!  They are works of art in their own right.  This will give you a place to store them and admire them.  I also love how this bathroom makes use of the vertical space, and who doesn’t love a charming ladder.

A very easy way to change the feel of your bathroom is with a fun new shower curtain and a floor length mirror.  The chunky frame on this mirror is the perfect opposition to the ethereal shower curtain and playful tub.


This was too clever not to show.  What a great way to reuse an old bike and give a pedestal sink a little bit of storage for hand towels or other necessities in the bike’s basket. It feels funky and retro.


A great use of color and asymmetry.  This is a great idea for a small space.  You get a full length mirror, sink with vanity mirror, little bit of counter space, and 2 drawers all in one wall-mounted piece (gotta love the one leg!).

 An organic or sleek ledge is a beautiful, easy accent to add to a bathroom.  Put it on the longest wall to help elongate the space.

Storage is key in most bathrooms.  Pick a wall and turn it into a sort of apothecary cabinet.  Keep colors the same and hide unruly items like hair dryers, etc in boxes or baskets.

Ladders can be an great addition to any bath.  Simple and easy management for towels or magazines.

Uplift Collection Robern bathroom cabinet

If you have very little space, one of the best things you could do is add a recessed Robern cabinet.  They come in many configurations and depths.  I used to have one with interior electrical outlets in our old home.  This is brilliant because it can hide razors and toothbrushes while charging so they don’t clutter the bathroom counter.  They also have a mirror defogger which is great when you are in a hurry and can’t see your mirror.