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Mattel Family Barbie Penthouse On The Market In Los Angeles For $10 Million

A 3,200-square-foot Century City residence formerly owned by Mattel founders Ruth and Eliot Handler has just been listed for $10 million. The property was initially acquired from the Handler’s in 2012 by developer and designer Nicole Sassaman for $3 million.

“Technically, I bought the home from the real Barbie, Barbara Handler Segal. Ruth and Elliot passed away. Her brother, Kenneth, was deceased as well. So everything was left to Barbara. But don’t call her ‘Barbie.’ If you call her ‘Barbie,’ she will correct you and say, ‘It’s Barbara.’ She is a lovely woman. But few people know that Ken and Barbie were the inspiration behind the iconic dolls,” Sassaman says of the penthouse.

Sassaman went on to explain how the original penthouse didn’t have a Mattel feel to it. “It felt like a 1960s time warp. The only thing in the home related to Barbie was the Barbie and Ken dolls in a glass case. I only wish that I had asked Barbara for them, but I didn’t have the heart. Basically we tore out all the electricity, the plumbing and the framing and the windows. We came down to nothing. The whole place was one room. We started all over again,” she said.

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Sassaman is no stranger to flipping famous properties and reselling them. She’s mainly known for buying and selling the Greta Garbo estate, which she claims helped her when it came to designing the Barbie Penthouse.

“One of my favorite properties that I flipped was a house that quite a few celebrities lived in, including Greta Garbo and Gloria Vanderbilt and Tab Hunter. The house got a lot of press, but when I sold it, the people largely bought it because Greta Garbo had lived there; it was called the Greta Garbo estate. And I thought, ‘Wow.’ If I ever buy a house or a property where someone famous has lived, I will pay respect to the iconic aspect and document everything from the beginning. So I took this approach with the Barbie penthouse. Also, I never got to redesign a penthouse, so this was such a fun opportunity to do something on a different scale,” she explains.

The house has an immaculate view of the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood Sign.

“Every room you go into has something unexpected, whether it’s the library shelves that are actually a secret door or the little room with a loft. The penthouse has a lot of interesting things you don’t see every day.” The property has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The office space has a queen-sized bed loft as well as a 350-square-foot balcony.

“I am always so touched by the relationship people have with Barbie. I also had Barbie’s when I was a little girl. I loved Barbie. But the most fun thing for me when I was a child was building and designing Barbie’s houses.”

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Sassaman explained why now was the right time to sell after all the work and love they put into the property:

“When I finished the penthouse in the early days, I was offered $10 million from quite a famous hotelier. It was a terrific offer. But I just wasn’t ready to sell at that time. If I don’t sell it, I get to continue to live here. And all my friends are dying that I’m selling. But I just thought it was a good time to let go and a great lesson to teach my 15-year-old daughter not to get too attached to things. Nothing lasts forever, and it is good to move on and try something new, not get stuck in a certain thing in one place. Also, it’s important to share this home. It’s a beautiful place. I have created so many amazing memories here. Even last night, all my friends were over. Everyone wants to celebrate here as long as we have it, so it seems like every night is a party. But I think it’s time to pass the torch and let someone else enjoy it,” she says.

Scott Segall is a real estate agent who’s responsible for the Malibu Barbie beach house listing in California who recently spoke about how unique the Penthouse property was in comparison.

“If you’re going to buy your daughter a Barbie Penthouse, and that Barbie Penthouse was a toy, it would look like this. It’s the live version of what Barbie would have had. There’s always been this idea that Barbie likes the finer things in life and we are delivering that.”

“This penthouse is a little more understated and low-key, so it’s not in your face. And I think a lot of people with high profiles love that. Beyond that, the history of having the Handlers who invented Ken and Barbie having lived there gives it some sort of cache. Nicole has completely reimagined the space. And I think it’s always fun when you have some kind of history associated with a remarkable property,” he adds.

Online Shopping

How 3D Technology Will Help Increase Online Home Goods Sales

Wayfair, a popular online retailer for home goods, recently had their co-founder discuss how they believe the implementation of 3D technology will help improve the customer experience when it comes to buying new pieces of furniture for their homes. 

Steven Conine, co-founder and co-chairman of Wayfair, discussed how the company has been experimenting and investing in 3D and AR (augmented reality) technology to make it easier for customers to see how a certain product would look inside their space without having to leave. 

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“AR/VR is certainly a space we’ve been playing with for quite a while now, and we do believe that over time it can have a meaningful impact in terms of making it easier to shop for your home from your home.”

The company also believes eventually that this technology can be used at actual retail locations around the country. While Wayfair doesn’t currently have any physical locations, they’ve already begun experimenting with brick-and-mortar pop-up shops which feature design service teams that can help customers furnish their spaces. 

“Ideally, I think at some point in the future every home in the U.S. will have a 3D model associated with it,” Conine said. 

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“We could have a design services team in our store who could give you a very personalized experience and actually help you visualize products in your space, help guarantee that it will fit, it will flow well and it’s the look and style you want.”

Throughout the pandemic, Wayfair saw a major surge in sales, as many other online retailers selling home goods saw because more people are investing in their spaces. Conine claimed that office furniture and home accessories were among the most popular purchases, so the idea to invest in this new advanced technology seemed like a no brainer.  

VR and AR technology would allow customers to see how a certain chair would look with their desk, or painting above their fireplace, basically they can literally see what their space would look like without the commitment of buying a product and having to wait to see how it looks when it arrives.

“I’m not worried about seeing a decline in sales because of the nature of home improvement. There’s a never-ending list of projects or products you want for your home. There is always something you are in the market for,” Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah said, in response to the decline in sales with the nation reopening.

Luxury Home

Home Construction Projects At An All Time Low Since Pandemic Began

The US is currently facing a historic shortage of homes for sale, which is why it’s surprising that homebuilders aren’t working as frequently as they once were towards the beginning of the pandemic. With the pandemic itself coming to a close, many Americans are continuing to look for work, and real estate prices and service fees have only increased for the same reason. 

According to reports from NBC, single-family housing is priced 13% lower when compared to this time last year. This marks the sharpest decline since last April, when the pandemic initially shut down the economy.  

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“I have to blame the difficulty in procuring lumber and other products, along with labor issues for the miss, in addition to likely cancellations due to skyrocketing costs for single family starts,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

According to a recent survey performed by the National Association of Home Builders, “prices of new and existing homes are at record levels, and the increases are accelerating at the fastest clip in over 15 years. Nearly half of all builders say they are adding escalation clauses to their sale prices because of rising material costs.”

“Escalation clauses specify that if building materials increase, by a certain percentage for example, the customer would be responsible for paying the higher cost. Including such a clause allows all parties to be on notice that the contract costs could change if materials prices change due to supply constraints outside the builder’s control,” according to the NAHB.

In a monthly sentiment survey, they also noted that “builders said they were slowing production in order to deal with higher costs for lumber, steel, gypsum and copper, some of which have hit record highs this year. A broad mix of residential construction materials is up in aggregate 12.4% over the previous 12 months.”

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The NAHB claimed in their statement that lumber alone increased in price tremendously throughout the past year; specifically the group claimed the increase has added an additional $36,000 charge to every single-family home building cost. 

The housing sector, like most of the industry, is also dealing with a major shortage in labor. Last April saw a major decrease in construction employment due to the fact that construction projects were some of the first to be halted when the pandemic began, leaving thousands of laborers unemployed or indefinitely furloughed. 

“Contractors are experiencing unprecedented intensity and range of cost increases, supply-chain disruptions, and worker shortages that have kept firms from increasing their workforces. These challenges will make it difficult for contractors to rebound as the pandemic appears to wane,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist with Associated General Contractors of America, an industry trade group. 

“Builders are also reporting difficulty obtaining other inputs like appliances. These supply-chain constraints are holding back a housing market that should otherwise be picking up speed, given the strong demand for buying fueled by an improving job market and low mortgage rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

UK Homes

UK Homeowners Struggling To Complete Interior Renovations Due To Labor Shortages

An industry-wide labor shortage in the United Kingdom is causing a multitude of homeowners to be left waiting for months longer than usual for bathroom and kitchen renovations/installations. The labor shortage is growing due to a combination of Brexit-related issues as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While the pandemic overall has caused a major increase in the amount people have invested in their homes, the demand for labor hasn’t been able to keep up. Specifically, bathroom, kitchen, and room renovations would, on average, take about four to eight weeks to complete before the pandemic, and now homeowners can expect to be waiting at least 12-18 weeks. 

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Damian Walters is the chief executive of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom Installations, and recently spoke to the press about the “unprecedented demand for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and home improvement in general” throughout the pandemic. 

“Lengthening lead times were part of the fallout from the incredible labor shortage. Our organization has been inundated with inquiries from retailers desperate to recruit more fitters. There were a number of problems, including an ageing workforce and a decrease of youngsters wanting to take up apprenticeships. Brexit had also deterred tradesmen from moving to the UK for work,” Walters explained.

“There are not going to be any tradesmen parachuting in from Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. EU migration was a little bit like a Band-Aid that’s been ripped off and the real problems have been exposed,” he said.

B&Q is known as the UK’s largest DIY project chain, and according to their data sales of supplies for interior DIY projects have increased by 13% within the last year of the pandemic, with some of the most popular projects being organizing outdoor spaces, and new kitchen and bathroom designs.

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Global supply chains are still dealing with trading disruptions brought on by the pandemic while demand has continued to increase for these supplies. This is not only bad for the DIY renovator, but for contractors who are still in business but don’t have access to the supplies they need to complete the projects being asked of them. 

The EU has reported shortages in everything from plumbing materials, to screws, handheld and power tools, as well as appliances like washing machines and fridges. 

The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom, and Bathroom Installations has announced a campaign that will begin this fall and hopefully recruit 700 apprentices from the UK’s school systems every year to become apprentices in the construction industry. Without new recruits, according to Walters, the “problem will only worsen, as a third of sole traders are due to retire over the next decade.” 

“We simply haven’t focused on vocational learning, and that has caused huge problems in terms of a gap between the demand and the available labour to do this type of work. Put bluntly, we’ve relied for too long on an ageing workforce who are now looking forward to their retirement. We need to pull out all the stops to prepare a new generation of skilled installers ready to take their place,”  said Walters.

Home Gym

Easy ‘Five-Minute’ Home Improvement Projects To Brighten Up Your Space 

As we all continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are trying to figure out how we’re going to occupy our time during the next few months as temperatures drop, and socially distanced outdoor gatherings become obsolete. Many are turning to home improvement projects to not only give them something to do in their spare time, but also finally check some of the boxes off their growing to-do lists. Here are some easy home improvement project ideas that anyone can do:

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Decorate Your Walls With Frames: Framing personal photos and artwork can draw the eye to certain walls within your space, and are perfect accent pieces to really tie a space together and make it personal. Even if you just want to hang artwork on your walls, pick some pieces that not only match the rest of your design aesthetic, but also speak to your personality. You’re going to be looking at your walls everyday, so you want something to be on them that’ll make you feel good. Consider buying seasonal art as well to freshen up your space every few months. 

Create A Makeshift Gym: This is a great idea for fitness lovers everywhere, as well as those with young children who have a lot of energy to spare. Making your own home gym doesn’t have to break the bank either. If you have a spare room or area in your house, consider investing in some rubber mats and simple dumbbells to start, and then work your way to buying more equipment that you think will fit into your daily fitness routine.

Hang Up Some New Shelving: Just like hanging artwork or photographs on a wall can make a space more personal shelving can do the same. Shelves don’t just have to be used for placing your random tchotchkes, instead, consider adding a plant vase to heighten up your walls and ceilings by bringing the eye up. Candles, figurines, and frames themselves are also great for adding height and pops of color around your room. 

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A Bird Bath Fountain: Even though winter is approaching, for some parts of the world the weather stays warm year round. Bird feeders and bird baths are great ways of inviting the natural world to your property. Take a step further and get a fountain attachment that will make any bird bath come to life, and give your yard a secret garden type of vibe. 

Coat and Mask Hooks: If you’re tired of your family members throwing their coats and masks wherever they please when they get home, consider either investing in a coat rack, or hang up some simple command hooks right next to the front door for easy access. To make it feel like an even more cohesive storage space for your clothing, add a simple ground level shelf/rack to place your shoes. This is also beneficial in the winter months to prevent snow and mud from being tracked into your home. 

Lighting: Lamps of all kinds are amazing accent pieces for any space in your home. For dining rooms, consider getting a high-quality floor lamp that matches the same design aesthetic of that space. For rooms that are more prone to having side tables (living rooms, bedrooms, offices) simple table lamps can fill the empty space and warm up any room. Be conscious with the designs of the lamps you get as well, like artwork, lamps can be viewed as those perfect design touches that really tie a space together.

Flower Wallpaper in Home

How To Spice Up Your Home With Wallpaper

In the middle of a global health crisis that’s forcing all of us to stay home, many have started checking off boxes on their long list of home projects that they’ve been putting off for years now. When it comes to interior design, something that can really change up an entire space is wallpaper, however, a lot of beginners are afraid of using it because they view it’ll be too difficult, or won’t look good. 

There’s a multitude of ways one can incorporate wallpaper in the home that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but easy to do. One of the most difficult aspects of wallpaper is choosing which one would work best in your house. Ben Pentreath is an architect and interior designer who often recommends that his clients look at the architecture of their home before deciding on what type of wallpaper to choose. 

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“If your architecture is more neutral, then I’d say the sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing styles. I tend to choose something calm and more neutral in my bedroom, but then go wild and have fun in the hallways, bathrooms and guest bedrooms.”

Clare Gaskin is an interior designer who tells her anti-wallpaper clients that they simply “haven’t been exposed to enough of it,” so she makes it part of her job to show them. Her personal philosophy on wallpaper is that it should be both functional and decorative, which is why she often opts for a more textured vinyl wallpaper option. 

She explained how recently she was faced with the challenge of redesigning a room that had a door on every wall, which from a design standpoint can really make a space feel small, and cramped. So to unify the space she put a solid, muted wallpaper with a slight faded grey checkered pattern that she also put on the doors so when they were all closed, the room felt cohesive and cozy, as opposed to tiny. 

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The specific wallpaper was made from faux grass-cloth, a material she’s been using in a lot of projects as of late. This wallpaper is vinyl, which gives it a more textured appearance but also allows for easy cleaning should anything get on your walls; Gaskin normally always recommends this type of wallpaper for houses with kids, as a simple sponge and soap can get almost any mess off of the surface.

One of the most unconventional, yet creative, ways one can use wallpaper in the home is by putting it on the ceiling. For smaller rooms, go bold and colorful on the ceiling to draw the eye up, and pull the focus to be on the aerial of the space. This creates the illusion that the room is much more spaced out than it actually is. 

For larger rooms, choose a smaller pattern that isn’t necessarily “busy,” but bold, so that it works as more of an accent piece for the space, rather than the main attraction. When it comes to interior design in general, we should be having fun and feel excited about our visions. Think about your dream room makeover and make it a reality. Find small ways to make a space come to life and if you don’t know where to start, look at the bones of the space and start on the outside and move in; aka, start the walls. 

Fall Decorations

Easy Fall Decorating Ideas To Warm Up Any Space

It’s finally that time of year; the weather gets a little cooler, our homes get a little cozier and the scent of cinnamon fills the air as leaves begin to fall from their orange and yellow trees. Now that autumn is officially starting, it’s time to warm up our indoor spaces with fall decor items that give us that warm and fuzzy feeling while we watch old Halloween movies and sip on cider. Luckily, there are plenty of easy design ideas that can help make any space feel ready for sweater weather. 

Fall Florals: Many people assume that florals are reserved specifically for the spring and summer season but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, fall is known as the harvest season, so why not cover your house in florals of orange, yellow, red, and brown. This could be as simple as adding a few accent plates to your dinner table, or creating bouquets of artificial flowers accented with pine cones, acorns, corn stalks, and other autumnal accents. 

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Outdoor Spaces: As the world continues to endure a global pandemic, many of us have opted for hosting small, socially distant, hang outs in our outdoor spaces. Warm up any outdoor set up by simply hanging some string lights, and putting out plush blankets, thick pillows, and lanterns. Bringing those floral elements outdoors is also a great way to create a cozy fall vibe. 

Pumpkins: Pumpkins are truly the mascot of autumn, but larger ones can definitely be expensive. Instead, invest in a lot of mini pumpkins, they typically retail for a few dollars each and vary greatly in shapes, texture, and colors. By buying a lot, you can set up a bunch of accent harvest pieces in the home and add other elements like string lights, acorns, fake leaves, and more. 

Tables: Fill your tables with plaid patterns and natural elements to give your eating areas a nostalgic and traditional feel. This is the perfect opportunity to create a centerpiece with mini pumpkins and all the other autumnal elements mentioned previously. 

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Candles: Long tapered candles will not only warm up any space, but give your home a spookier Halloween feel. Many tapered candles offer multi-colored wax options so as they melt they display a beautiful array of colors and shapes. Beyond that, scented candles placed throughout the home are the icing on the cake when it comes to setting the fall scene. When you walk into your space, you want it to feel as warm and cozy as possible, and smelling accents of pumpkin, cinnamon and apple throughout your home will do just that. 

Corn Husks: Corn husks also give off the perfect fall season vibe. Combined with pumpkins, hay, and fall flowers, and you have yourself a fantastic centerpiece for any table or shelf. Take it a step further and dress the door with a corn husk wreath; which you can likely pick up at any local crafting or gardening store. 

Pillows and Blankets: Now that the weather is going to start cooling down, don’t be afraid to go overboard with decorative pillows, throw blankets, and quilts. Flannel and hand-knit designs will make any space feel like home, and allow you to get comfortable wherever you are. Adding decorative pillows to the seating in your home will also warm up the space, and gives you the opportunity to display some cool seasonal designs. 

Seasonal Crafts: Finally, doing some sort of DIY craft for your home will not only give you the satisfaction of creating something yourself, but it’s a great way to really make your space look like what you want it to. If you have kids, you already know the multitude of seasonal/Halloween themed crafts you can do with the whole family, however, for those in a creative rut, head to your local craft store, they’re bound to have tons of kits of fall-themed activities to do.

Architects working Together

Antonio Citterio Discusses Resilience And Sustainability In The Architecture Industry

Antonio Citterio’s aim as a designer and architect has always been to create spaces that evoke a sense of quality. Spaces that are useful for the individuals daily life while being creative enough to embody a sense of the client’s personality.

Gallery Wall

Creative Home Projects to Personalize Your Space In Lockdown

With all of us enduring the coronavirus pandemic and remaining under lockdown until further notice, many of us are running out of things to do in our spare time to keep us entertained. Doing home improvement projects or switching up the interior design of some of the spaces in your home can be a great way to not only distract yourself from the world, but also revamp up the space you’ve been forced to stay in for the past few months. 

When we think of home improvement or interior design, we often imagine that growing list of things that needs fixing throughout our houses, however, what about projects that are more fun and don’t really have a beneficial purpose beyond just making you happy? Your home is yours, so it should reflect that! Here are home project ideas to make your space really feel like home:

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Create An Accent Wall: An accent wall is typically one specific wall in a room, often the bedroom or living room, that differs in color, pattern, texture, etc. from the other three walls in the space. Normally, people like to put a pattern on their accent wall to highlight either an entertainment center, art piece, or furniture item propped against said wall. However, there is no limit to the possibilities of things you can do for an accent wall. Use chalkboard paint so that you and your loved ones can keep changing the designs and sign each other’s names. Order various sized prints of either personal photos, pictures of people you admire, places you want to go, or whatever else you want to look at. Frame the prints and cover the wall! The possibilities are truly endless. 

Rearrange Your Bedroom or Living Room: This is one of the more basic “home improvement” options, however, if you aren’t looking to spend any money but still want a change, moving around the set up of these spaces can accomplish exactly that. I say the living room and bedroom specifically because in normal circumstances those are the spaces one spends the most time in, however, switch up all the rooms in your house if you want! Remember, there really are no rules when it comes to making your space yours (as long as you’re following your cities specific coding requirements for larger renovation projects). Keeping these areas of the home fresh and personal can help ease any anxieties you have relating to the state of the world, because at least you know you’re safe in your own personalized bubble. 

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Make a Gallery Wall: Similar to an accent wall, a gallery wall allows you to focus the attention of a space on unique art or photography pieces that either you’ve taken, or admire. This really is one of the most personal ways you can liven up your home because even if you choose art/pictures that don’t have you or your family in it, you’re still choosing pieces that resonate with you for a special reason. 

Repair and Refine Your Furniture: Things like large chairs and ottomans can be reupholstered so that you’re not losing the functionality of your pieces, but are still basically getting a whole new furniture item. Any wooden furniture that’s been scuffed, scratched, broken off, etc. can easily be sanded, re-polished, and repainted as well. 

Create a Meditative/Relaxation Space: Even if you’re not into meditation specifically as a means of unwinding, you should have a designated space in your home separated from your bedroom or living room that’s main purpose is just for you to sit back and relax. This could even be a simple garden chair and table in your side yard, the point of this place is to make you feel completely comfortable every time you enter it. Especially with the way the world looks now, it’s important that we all unplug and find time everyday to check in with ourselves, and what better way to do that then in your own meditation room? Decorate the space with stereotypical items that induce relaxation – candles, twinkly lights, blankets, soft lighting, etc. – and also with personal pieces that make you feel safe. 

Regardless of how you personalize your home, remember what it’s felt like to be stuck in that space for months at a time. The future in terms of the coronavirus pandemic is still unpredictable, so you might as well pass the time by creating spaces in your home that truly feel like yours and yours only.

Living Room Decor

Simple Ways To Makeover Your Living Room

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, we all have an indefinite amount of time to be spent in our homes. Many of us are taking advantage of this quarantine by completing a bunch of home projects/interior design dreams that have been waiting to be completed for years now. 

One of the most commonly used rooms in your home is the living space. The living room acts as sort of the centerpiece for the home, and while you want the space to be personal and fit in with your own personal aesthetics, there are some general tips you can follow to make the space appealing for anyone who walks in. 

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First, get inspired and go online to find some fun ideas to do with your space. Online design magazines, blogs, and other social media platforms like Pinterest or Tumblr, are all great examples of online resources with a myriad of inspirational interior design ideas for your living room. Start by searching for general terms like “cool sofa” or “wooden coffee table” and from there you can start to gage what pictures are most appealing to you. Once you have a better idea of what you want your space to look like, you can get more specific with your searches and maybe even find some specific elements to buy online for your home. 

Once you have the general idea of what you want your space to look like it’s important to plan before making any online purchases or rearrangements to the space. Entering into a redesign blind can be fun depending on how intense of a remodel you’re doing. If you’re simply rearranging your furniture and maybe buying some new accent pieces for the space, you can likely take things on as they come with the way you lay out the space, however, more times than not it’s easier to just write out what you’d ideally like to see come out of the space. 

Plan out where you want furniture to be, what things in the room need to be relocated/thrown away, and what new pieces you want to invest in to really brighten up the space. When it comes to a room makeover, the first thing people normally do is repaint. If you’re looking to repaint, choose a neutral or natural color to brighten up the space and make it seem a lot larger than it is; the lighter the better. 

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Normally living rooms have the most natural lighting in the house, so a neutral paint color will keep that space feeling bright and open to the rest of the house, regardless of if it’s an open concept or not. 

Playing around with texture and color through accent pieces is an amazing way to liven up any space. One of the main ways people combine both of these elements is through rug placement. Even if your living room is carpeted, many individuals like adding smaller accent rugs to their living rooms to visually break up the space. If you are living in an open concept home, area rugs are a great way to separate rooms and distinguish those common spaces. 

Color and texture can also be brought in through decorations, and plants/foliage. If you don’t trust yourself enough to keep multiple plants alive, consider ordering some fake ones from Amazon or Home Goods. Even fake plants can “breathe life” into any space through random pops of greens and other natural colors. The natural elements of indoor plants also contributes to the lightness/openness that the neutral paint colors bring out. 

Finally, the art and other pieces you decide to hang on your living room walls is what makes the space truly personal. Choose pieces that speak to you personally but also flow with the space. Don’t settle on a basic painting of a beach because you think the blues bring out the beige in your walls, if you don’t want to look at a picture of a random beach hanging in your home everyday, don’t get it. Follow your gut, and again, look to your online resources for further inspiration.