5 EASY tips for newlyweds looking to blend their furniture and identify their NEW “couple style”!

I hear it over and over again when I meet new couples, especially ones who are newly married or have just bought their first home…

“What do we do with our home if one of us likes modern furniture and the other likes traditional furniture?”

Well there is no need to worry anymore because I have a quick and easy guide to help you jump start the process and get through this little battle of MODERN VS TRADITIONAL. Below are 5 strategies I tackle to make sense of it and help you capture a style that will let both personalities shine:

1. FIRST! Make a list of all the existing furniture both of you own. Often there is one person in the couple who has WAY more “stuff” than the other. Once you look at this list, decide who has a higher percentage of items. If it’s the modern person that owns the majority of furniture and accessories, then try selecting a few traditional pieces the next time you are looking to buy new artwork or accent furniture.

2. Look at the details: If you need to purchase a few new pieces of furniture once you move in together, try to accomplish meeting each other’s needs by looking at the details in the furniture you are buying. Let’s say for example you are deciding between two armchairs and one is looking very traditional. However the other one is traditional but has modern lines, or modern leg details. This should be the piece you purchase because it is meeting both of your needs.

3. Don’t be afraid to mix styles! If let’s say each of you are bringing a house full of furniture into the new place, feel free to mix up the style, colors, and patterns so that there is a mix of each other’s personal items in every room. It’s OK to break up furniture sets and create a blend of both styles in one space!

Modern home office

4. Don’t delegate common rooms to one person only! What does this mean? Well, if there is a home office and only one of you really use that space, then go ahead and let that person have total control of the room. However, if you are organizing common area furniture, like the living room or dining room, then it has to be a blend of both parties! Unite your taste in one look that expresses things you both appreciate.

5. Remember that your taste and style is evolving and forever changing. Things that you like now will change over time and somewhere down the road both of you may end up having similar taste. It takes time for a couple to develop their own style and you need to just enjoy the process for now and have fun together!

For more in depth help, or to hire Shirry for your new home design, go to: asdinteriors.com

Top 5 accessories I use in (almost) every room ;)

Let’s face it… we all want the secrets that the professionals use. So here are 5 of mine.

1. Wall mirrors – large and usually in sets of 3.
2. Fresh flowers – all in 1 color per bunch.
3. Side tables – because everyone deserves a place to put their drinks down!
4. Leather tray – making it easy (and attractive) to organize and transfer drinks.
5. Large clock – just to mix it up from the usual artwork on the walls.

There you go..Hope you “LIKE” it and share with everyone!

The 4 part guide to selecting the right countertop surface for you:

Stone Pit Vermont

Have you ever shopped for a countertop material and felt like it was so overwhelming your head was going to explode?

Well I am going to take away all the confusion with a simple guide I have created. It’s a small excerpt from my E-Book I am writing (which of course you’ll check out when it’s available, right?). This should help you get some clarity of the options as well as a few designer tips I’ve thrown in for you.

So here is a simple “short list” breakdown of the basics.

1. Quartz – One of the world’s strongest minerals! Currently in the American market, this is the most popular product for kitchen and bathroom countertop. You may have heard of several large companies like Caesar stone, Sile Stone, and Euro stone etc.
This is one of the strongest materials available for countertops! Why, you ask? That’s because it is a combination of natural stone and a man made polymer (or glue). The natural stone is grinded and compressed together with man made glue to make an outrageously strong material. One other great quality is that it is VERY consistent in color. So for those of you looking for a modern clean look, this is the best way to go.

*A Tip- for those of you looking for a GREEN solid surface option, this also falls into the Quartz category. Companies like Terrazzo and Caesar Stone create their product in the same way, but also used recycled glass and other objects in making the slabs.

Caesar Stone

2. Granite – This is also a great material that is very strong and has a lot of natural beauty. However, unlike quartz, it varies greatly in color and pattern. If you appreciate the natural beauty of the patterns, veins, and colors that are in slabs, then this is the best option for you. I will also throw into this category a few softer natural materials like marble, limestone, and onyx. These show their natural beauty in the same way that granite does.

*A Tip – Before selecting one of these softer natural stones, think about the area that you are installing it. Does it have high traffic? If so, you need to keep in mind that this is a natural element that will need maintenance. The shine of a marble countertop on a kitchen island will dull over time and will need to be buffed and sealed to keep its glorious sheen.

Granite Slab

3. Manmade – A great man made product is Corian by DuPont. You may remember this as a nasty pink material from the 80’s, but it has a lot of popularity in the European market as a highly contemporary and sleek looking option. The great thing about this product is that it has a lot of room to mold and form into many shapes. I’ve seen complete kitchens made of this material where the sink and cabinet side panels are all integrated as one piece…and it’s beautiful! Not to mention very easy to clean!

*A Tip – If using this in a retail space, a very cool feature is that you can backlit it for a lovely glow! It’s an inexpensive option that gives a huge impact!

4. Other – Left are the other options of tile, concrete, wood, stainless steel, and laminate. Yes budget can play a huge roll in your selection for countertops, but here are the other things you should think about:

a. How much use (and abuse) will the surface have?
b. What is the overall style of the space?

Lastly, take into consideration that the countertop material is a horizontal surface and it is the equivalent of about 25% of the overall look in a kitchen or bathroom. The more visible items are the cabinets, walls, and flooring….so, try not to lose sleep over your decision.

A quick (and fun) guide to our TOP 15 decorating DONT’S – And how to fix them!

If you are a new home owner, or are you looking to spruce up your current place? Here is a quick tip guide to some things you shouldn’t do, and how to fix them!

1. Mini area rugs – If you’re unsure of the size, always go bigger!
2. Top of the toilet tank – this is not a place for potpourri or tissue paper boxes, leave it alone!
3. No headboards – For those of you out of college, please get an adult bed that has a headboard. Long gone are the days of pushing your bed against the wall.
4. Crooked pictures – place a bit of earthquake putty on the bottom 2 corners to keep them straight.
5. Dead plants – either water them or get new ones.
6. Wall to wall bathroom carpet – It’s gross and collects mold. If you have a bathroom with carpet, consider a DIY project for the weekend to remove it and put in some tile.
7. Fake fruit in a bowl – Please, just go buy a bunch of green apples or lemons, inexpensive and edible!

A.S.D. Interiors

8. Matchy Matchy furniture – Not everything needs to be a set. It looks much more interesting and thoughtful if you pair up different finishes and colors.
9. Huge speakers – If the speakers are taller than waste height, they’re too big!
10. Small art on a large wall – think about the scale of the wall before hanging artwork. The artwork should take up at least 60% of the width of the wall.
11. Oversized furniture – scale is everything! Remember that a small spaces need smaller scaled furniture.
12. Mismatched door hardware – Brass on the inside and chrome on the outside, really?? Can we make them the same finish please?
13. No contrast in color – It’s so sad to see a room that all the same color from floor, to cabinets, to furniture and art. One of the most beautiful elements of a well designed room is the contrast in color.
14. Toilet lid covers – Especially the fuzzy ones. If you have one of these, PLEASE throw it away today.
15. Unorganized open shelving – If you have no way to hide your STUFF, at least make it organized and pleasant to look at. It will bring clarity to your mind every time you look at them.

Top 5 real estate tips for the new home owner:

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As you can imagine, I walk through many homes in my business. I check out potential properties with top tier CEO’s, as well as newly married 1st time home buyers and help them decide what would be a wise investment. So I hear a lot of chatter about what they feel is a worthwhile investment and their ideas on what will give them a large return on their remodeling and design investment.
So today I am listing my top 5 Real estate tips for new home buyers in any market. These are the items I would recommend investing in your home, as they have been proven to double in value!!

1. Lighting – Many people (especially in southern California) purchase homes that were built in the mid 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Typically these homes have not been upgraded with today’s standard of lighting. I have literally been in homes where the only available light option is to plug in a lamp and have that lamp controlled by one switch near the door. Yay…that’s affective! Well, not really. Especially with today’s tech savvy and energy conscious consumer! Making an initial investment in adding recessed lighting along with dimmer switches is one of the first items I would recommend! There are so many benefits to doing this, even beyond your return on investment. It’s more energy efficient, its boosts the value of your home and it can make or break the overall look of a space by actually making it appear bigger or smaller! Not to mention the fact that it will save the longevity of your eyesight!!

2. Cabinets – We have all heard that the KITCHEN is the most important room in the house, and that is still by far the most looked at space by potential home buyers. Why is this? Well not only is it the place that everyone ends up when entertaining, but also because it usually the largest area of a home that you will invest your money on improving! And what is the largest item in the kitchen? Well, most likely it is your cabinets, followed closely by the countertops and then flooring. Investing in good cabinets, or for that matter even refinishing your existing cabinets so they don’t look like they date back to WWI, is one of the smartest places to put your cash. I have run the full gauntlet from refinishing old cabinets, installing IKEA cabinets and also building complete custom kitchens and no matter what your budget, any of those options will almost always double your investment.

3. Paint – Paint and color is something that affects all of us when we walk into a room whether you realize it or not. It can turn something that looks dingy and dated into fresh and clean. Taking the time to give your new interior and exterior paint a clean new coat with updated colors is one of the simplest ways to freshen up any property, without a lot of out of pocket expense.

4. Air conditioning and heating – Many times I see home owners get so excited and overwhelms about their new home that they don’t even check to see if their A/C or heating are working properly or if they are making some weird smell or noise. Gross! The reason this is so important is that it can take a big chunk of your budget to repair or install a new system. After all it doesn’t help if you have a beautiful home but you are too cold that you can’t even sleep there, right!

5. Plumbing fixtures – We are talking faucets, toilets and shower heads here people. These items, if not working properly can throw your money down the drain!! (sorry couldn’t help myself) If you see that your sinks are cracked, faucets are leaking, and toilets are not flushing properly, it’s a wise choice to switch them out before you even move in! These leaks and problems can only cause more trouble in the future. I’ve also heard crazy stories about furious home owners going through foreclosure taking their rage out by dumping concrete into the toilets as a form of revenge towards the bank. Basically if they can’t keep the house, then they don’t want anyone else to enjoy it either. Crazy right!! So to avoid these problems, I recommend running the water, flushing toilets several times, and check your sewer lines before close of escrow.

Now I did leave some items off the list like flooring and landscaping because usually these are not make-it or break-it items for a home (obviously each case is different). Don’t get me wrong, they are very important for the overall value of a property, but usually these items are relatively low priority improvements that can be done at any time.

So, take these items into consideration if you are planning to remodel or purchase anytime soon. At least you will feel more confident that you will see a return on your investment with these top 5 tips.

I can lead you to great design, but I can’t MAKE you love it.

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I really thought about that old quote the other day, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.” when my client blamed me for selecting the wrong paint color! And I thought to myself: HUH, what went wrong here?

Before the walls were painted my client gave me a magazine picture of what she wanted. I matched the paint color based on the overall style of the room, and did a few test samples for her to approve. Then once I got her approval on a color, I had my painters go ahead and paint the place.
However, I got a call that same day and the client hated the color! So I drove there at 7am the next morning to see what had happened. I walked in a bit confused because the color looked beautiful and it was exactly what I had planned for the design, but she was not happy with it.

Well obviously I want my clients to love the selections I make, whether it’s paint or furniture, and so I told her that I would try some other samples and reselect.

After weeks of testing samples, my client selected a color she liked. We had it painted and she was thrilled with the color. Keep in mind that this color hadn’t related AT ALL to the color from the magazine clip she originally showed me.

I remember this from Patti Stanger on’ “The Millionaire Matchmaker”. She always talks about how she can bring the perfect woman to you, but she can’t force you to fall in love with her, especially if you are not open to changing your old ways.

So to go back to my title of this blog…here is what I am talking about. Sometimes you hire a professional with the intensions of letting them do their job. In my case, I create the complete vision for a space down to every last detail. I guess what happened here is a case of not being ready to accept someone else making decisions and not willing to give up the control. Therefore I can’t expect each client to fall in love with what I create for them…C’est la vie!

Re cap of my student lecture – Owning a business!

Shirry Dolgin - Owner, A.S.D. Interiors

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As some of you may know, I often guest speak and give lectures to students studying interior design. I talk with them about running an interior design business and all the facets of being a business owner.
Well, yesterday I was invited to speak in a class of students studying at FIDM (my alma mater) who were all business majors. Each one of these students had a different type of business goal, from opening a clothing boutique all the way to opening a restaurant, and wanted to hear a professional speak about running a business.
It was a great lecture and we had some real fun and candid discussions of how I run my business and how I have grown my career. So I thought I would post some highlights from my lecture for you all to enjoy. I talked a lot about the daily activities I do (and all the hats I wear) as well as trends I see in technology and how the consumers really drive the demand of the services I offer.
I really focused on 3 main themes for this lecture, and they are:

1. Finding a mentor – virtual or in person
2. Research your competition
3. Have passion about what you do!

Mentorship – The reason I have become such a huge advocate of mentorship and encourage young people finding one, is because there has to be some element in building your business that bridges the gap between student life and real life. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about getting an education and graduating from college. But the reality is that there IS a big gap from what we learn in school compared to reality, and a lot of questions that need to be answered. Unfortunately, your parents and/or your friends cannot always be there to help you with your roadblocks and may not have the knowledge to help. So to have a business mentor and someone who you can look at and say you really idealize their business model can help the trajectory of your business growth by leaps and bounds.

Research – There cannot be enough said about research! Now I know the word sound awful to some people and it probably brings up some old feelings of term papers and extra boring work. But owning a business is a lifelong agreement to constant research! I spends hours educating myself and doing research on a daily basis. The truth is that it never ends when you own a business and when you strive to be the best at what you do. You can do research about your competition, about new technology, and about people in your industry. There is an endless amount of information out there and the truth is that if you want to set yourself apart as an “expert” or a voice of authority in your market, you better have done your research and be well versed in your area of business.

Last is passion…and this is the most important one! Passion is the driving force behind all successful businesses. The real people who love what they do have such a strong passion about it and it doesn’t feel like work to them. It’s something they feel like doing and the passion oozes out of them. We all know people like this. It can be a car enthusiast or a tech geek… Whatever the subject that drives you should be the one you choose to build a profitable career.