How Lovely Are Your Branches? Tips For Decorating The Tree

tree design The center of attention and activity, the Christmas tree embodies the unique combination of nostalgia, good will and hope associated with the holidays. Many of the same ideas that apply to decorating your home are also important to keep in mind for a beautiful tree that expresses your style while fostering holiday spirit for everyone who sees it.

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Merry & Bright: Our Holiday Inspirations

holiday-cover-image Typically we concentrate on the commercial end of things since that’s our daily focus, but for the holidays this year we’re getting a little more personal. Several of our interior designers share a few of their favorite things when it comes to holiday décor.  Hopefully some of the concept images, personal photos and trends that have inspired us will provide new ideas to help make your home or business festive and inviting.

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CLOCKS: Still Timely for Contemporary Interior Design?

clocks-cover-graphic With the advent of cell phones, smart watches and other similar technologies, the fundamental need for clocks to guide the patterns of our days has surely diminished.  However, that does not mean they have become obsolete for residential or commercial interiors.  In fact, clocks are enjoying a design resurgence with an emphasis on style and variety making them a valuable design tool for a wide range of settings. Continue reading

VISUAL CUES: Design Strategies to Support People with Dementia

Memory-Dementia Care Cover Graphic As the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have been steadily increasing, the demand for specialized settings is likewise on the rise. There is also a growing movement to empower our towns and cities to better support those with dementia, so they can choose to remain in their personal homes and fully engage with others (not just others with dementia) for as long as possible. In either scenario, we believe careful and respectful design strategies can function as a silent “enabler” to support dignity, personal expression and independence to the greatest extent possible. Continue reading

WELCOMING GESTURES: Hospitality Design Trends

Hospitality Cover Graphic The word hospitality traces its origin back to the Latin words hostis, which means stranger or enemy, and the more positive hospitem, which means guest or host. The English terms hospital, host, hostel, hotel and hospitality all come from these same roots. Interestingly the first hospitality venues were hospitals, which in their initial inception provided lodging and entertainment for pilgrims traveling to religious shrines. This eventually led to our current concept of hospitality which encompasses friendly reception and generous treatment of guests or strangers.

We take many of our design cues for a wide range of senior living, healthcare, educational and other commercial spaces from today’s hospitality venues, the best of which set the standards for brand identity, style and guest comfort and enjoyment.  The following hospitality trends are examples of contemporary interior design techniques and finishes that will add visual interest, subtle sophistication and personality to a wide range of settings. Continue reading

SHELF HELP: Stylizing Your Shelves

Shelf Help Cover Graphic We have to admit, one of our pet peeves as commercial interior designers is working with a client to incorporate beautiful custom millwork or casework shelving into their project, only to visit the site months later to find that the shelves are empty. This is a missed opportunity to create a positive first impression, add visual interest, reinforce your brand, and ultimately define the personality of your space.

This type of accessorizing, to add the finishing touches and pull everything together, is a service RLPS Interiors offers, but sometimes clients opt to handle this in-house. We understand that it can be difficult to know where to start, so we’ve pulled together a few guidelines that apply to both commercial and residential spaces. Continue reading

HANGING IT UP: Considerations for Artwork Selections & Installation

Artwork Examples Cover Artwork is the “icing on the cake” for interior spaces. It can serve as the inspiration that defines your design style or the finishing touch that pulls everything together. Selecting the right artwork is particularly important for commercial applications to reinforce your brand, strengthen local connections and ultimately create a positive experience.

Nature Rules! Since we’ve been involved in a number of senior care and healthcare settings, we have a particular respect for the positive impacts nature artwork can provide. In the book, Putting Patients First, Roger Ulrich and Laura Gilpin recommend artwork for healthcare settings that depicts landscapes, tranquil water, calm weather and warmer seasons. A number of studies by Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC, and others have documented not only a preference for nature scenes among hospital patients, students and office workers, but also positive outcomes such as reduced stress, lessened anger/aggression and improved well-being. And the inverse is also true, abstract artwork is the least liked among people of all ages and has been shown to stimulate negative emotions.

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Bring on the Bling Adding a bit of sparkle should not be limited to the holidays. The dark and dull days of winter are a great time to consider adding some bling to your interiors. Shiny, reflective, sparkly or shimmery elements can transform a bland or dated space into an exciting and unique environment. Reflective metals, colored glass and shimmery window treatments can add life to interior spaces every day of the year.

For some people, the mere mention of bling conjures images of Liberace and over-the-top theatrical ornamentation. While it is true that a little bit of bling goes a long way, it’s equally true that sparkling and reflective elements offer sophisticated brilliance when used appropriately. Here are some considerations for reinventing a “ho-hum” space by adding bling in a way that expresses your personality and style.

The sparkling chandeliers, mirrored accent wall and metallic wall covering help to create a “wow” impression for this traditional-styled space.
The sparkling chandeliers, mirrored accent wall and metallic wall covering help to create a “wow” impression for this traditional-styled space at The Village at Orchard Ridge in Winchester, Virginia.
  • A great start is adding a few shiny or glowing accessories. Some easy and relatively inexpensive options include replacing old cabinet knobs with glass, mirrored or crystal alternatives, hanging a sparkling, gem-encrusted mirror on a blank wall or simply adding some new throw pillows with metallic threads or colored gemstone detailing.
  • Brass is slowly making its way back into the modern design realm – however it’s resurfacing in new forms such as aged bronze or antique brass. To avoid a dated look, we recommend limiting shinier versions of this metal to accessories, decorative lighting elements, mirror frames or curtain rods which typically reflect a new interpretation of the vintage gold look.
  • Opportunities for incorporating bling also extend to window treatments where metallic threads are sometimes woven into the fabric or colored gems and metallic studs are added as decorative elements. Introducing a bit of bling is a great option for adding an unexpected, noteworthy element to an otherwise traditional, tailored application. Accessories that sparkle and shine can also be used with tiebacks or as decorative studs on a window valence or the headboard for a bed.

    Recessed lighting is often being replaced with more decorative, statement lighting in today’s interiors. One example is “Sputnik lights,” like the examples at right from Restoration Hardware and which offer modern interpretations of retro lighting inspired by last century’s space race.
    Recessed lighting is often being replaced with more decorative, statement lighting in today’s interiors. One example is “Sputnik lights,” like the examples at right from Restoration Hardware and which offer modern interpretations of retro lighting inspired by last century’s space race.
  • The recent prevalence of grays in interior design (see our earlier blog) has corresponded with a myriad of new metallic variations of the palette for light fixtures, kitchen backsplashes, decorative accessories and even furniture.       Nickel gray provides a chic, neutral look, while attention-grabbing silver supplies more sparkle. You can even mix the types of metals you use to add depth and visual appeal for a variety of design styles and color palettes. Metallic elements can blend seamlessly with natural materials like wood and weathered brick or equally well with sleek, contemporary elements like glass and polished stone.

Bringing on the bling, even if you start with just one item, will help create the “wow” factor for your space. Just keep in mind that these shiny, sparkly attention-getters should be carefully selected to complement and enhance your individual design style. Always start with a foundation of classic pieces and then mix in a few statement items. Limit particularly “trendy” pieces to features that can be changed out fairly easily and inexpensively.

Charlotte Stoudt, IIDA, LEED AP, has 16 years of experience as a commercial interior designer. She believes that a bit of bling helps to create a lasting impression in the spaces she designs. You can see some of her latest inspirations, like those below, on Pinterest

Do-it-yourself idea from Chameleon Interiors Blogspot
Antigua from Allan Copley Designs
Antigua from Allan Copley Designs
Carrie Chair from
Carrie Chair from Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams