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Welcome to the Operation Color blog! I’ll be sharing some of my experiences and thoughts on what color and creative interior & exterior design can do for your home.

Creating Design Focal Points

A key component of architectural, landscaping, interior and even fashion design, is to draw your attention to certain attractive areas of the space – in other words create a focal point. When you really pay attention, all well designed interiors and exteriors have focal points.

Use of Flowers & Plants

The easiest way to create a focal point is using flowers or plants that pick up the colors in the space and add visual interest.  Not only are flowers attractive to birds and bees most humans love to look at them also. This display tactic is frequently utilized with magazine layouts and in staged homes. When you “mentally remove” the floral bouquet/plant displayed in a photo, then you really see where the design focal points are and how they tie into the space.  I don’t know about you but fresh cut flower bouquets are not in my weekly budget as much as I love them!  Therefore it is important with effective design to create more formalized focal points using accessories, furniture or enhanced architectural details so when the flowers go away you still have an attractive space.

Display Groupings

If you have ever taken an art class they frequently talk about the concept of formal pairs or using odd number items in display.  When a pair of items is coordinated and displayed with an additional larger piece it somehow becomes easier on the eye to look at.  This is why front doors tend to have pots on either side and the same with fireplace mantels.  It is a safe and easy way to look uniform and attractive.  Sometimes it is fun to shake things up a bit though by varying heights/sizes of items and grouping them by color rather than just displaying a matching set. Size also matters.  If the items don’t work proportionately or don’t color coordinate then the focal piece loses some of its impact. Displaying a group of items such as framed artwork or photos with matching color coordinating mats or frames can really make a wonderful focal point in a large open area verses having an expensive large piece of art.

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Vintage Display Trends...Cool or Troubling?

A few months back, I was shopping at a popular clothing chain store in our town.  As an interior designer, I always enjoy admiring creative visual display and looking for inspiration in unusual places. It was clear the company worked hard to carefully re-use vintage items very creatively throughout the store and I very much applaud their efforts.  The designer or architect had created an attractive (almost patchwork look) wall décor using cut up vintage doors of many styles and colorations on the two story wall area leading to the upstairs.  The doors appeared to range in age from earlier in the 1900’s to the 50’s.  Many of the old doors probably had lead paint finishes (or were painted and then the finish was sanded to create a colorful worn look) and were most likely in bad shape or possibly slated to be demolished when a home or old building was torn down.

I also noticed the store featured merchandise display tables with vintage treadle sewing machine legs from the turn of the century or possibly replicas of them, though I doubt it.  It appeared they had taken apart the machine and removed the cast iron legs then mounted them under custom display tables for a cool retro industrial look.  As a sewer and the proud owner of a vintage treadle sewing machine of my great grandmother’s, I was actually bothered to see the cast iron sewing machine table legs used in this manner.  Perhaps the sewing machine that came with the table was beyond repair and the legs may have been separated years ago.  Perhaps the cast iron legs were reproductions.  We may never know what happened to rest of these cultural historical icons from years gone past.

Continue reading Vintage Display Trends…Cool or Troubling?

Home. It's not only a place to store your things, but an ongoing chapter of your life.

As a young girl, I used to visit my grandparents’ home nearby regularly. After their children had grown, Grandmother and Papa moved in a typical post World War 2 home and while now I would consider it “cozy” with only two bedrooms and one bathroom, looking back, it seemed like the perfect space for them.  It was clear they had invested time, effort and money gradually doing home improvements to better fit their lifestyles.

Grandchildren and family were very important to them and throughout the house, this was reflected by the taped up artwork, displayed knick knacks, special family photos in a decorative bowl on the coffee table, along with a small glass canister always filled with pastel colored candies beckoning to be eaten.  At each corner of the living room my grandfather had built matching tall narrow floor to ceiling shelves filled with books.  On one of the bookcase edges were short horizontal line markings each labeled with the date and the name & age of a grandchild.  A yardstick encased in checked fabric and trimmed with white rick rack proudly hung next to this informal “growth chart”.  These handwritten lines showed how much each grandchild had grown over the years and what age they were when measured.  There was a wide age range among the cousins and I was on the young end.  Many of my older cousins were towering teenagers and adults so the chart was especially meaningful to me as a child because I could see that the cousins were once shorter also at the same age.  My grandmother had very distinctive handwriting so I could easily tell if she wrote the information or if someone else had.  Looking back it was really an ongoing family history of all the cousins/grandchildren – something to look forward to seeing whenever we visited.


Eventually my grandfather passed away and my grandmother had to move to an assisted living facility when I was a young adult.  I stayed with her while packing things for her move and revisited the grandchildren “growth chart” with her.  While her short term memory was not so good then, she very much remembered putting those marks on the bookcase and smiled brightly when we talked about the various cousins and how much they had grown.  Alas, the tall narrow bookcases were left behind with the house and were probably painted over when the new owner moved in but for me those labeled lines will always be there in my mind to think about and remind me of my proud grandmother and fond memories from the past!

What memories are you creating in your home?  How can you uniquely showcase & display something intangible like the “grandchildren growth chart”?  While handwritten notations on a built in shelf can’t always be easily saved for future generations, taking the time to recognize their importance and either save or photograph this “family treasure,” would have been a wonderful way to document a special family tradition for future generations.     Annette