Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In design school, we had to develop presentation boards the old-fashioned way – gluing samples to foam core boards.  I remember it always being a good day when a tile supplier or fabric showroom would give you samples to keep.  You ended up with a far better project than weeding through the “retired” samples in the school’s sample room.

Fast forward 10 years and there are a few products to help decorators, designers, DIYers or anyone interested in design, put their sample boards together. One of those is Olioboard, an interactive tool to help you create your ideal space using images from their catalog or your own files. 

I had heard of it for month’s but hadn’t tried it until yesterday and all I will say for now is it took me much longer than I anticipated to create the board.  A sluggish computer and the learning curve probably had something to do with it.  It is a pretty amazing tool and I urge you to play with it – it doesn’t cost anything.  Be prepared to spend hours though!

This is a photo of my client Emily’s family room that she needed design help with.

The first thing you probably notice is the niche for the TV.  For some reason, builders think that niches are a good thing – they’re not!  The client already knew that she wanted to drywall over it.  Usually when I mention this during a design consult, the client doesn’t want to be bothered to fill in the niches.  So I was quite happy when Emily already had this on her “TO DO” list.

The next question to consider is “where do you place the TV?”  I have never been a fan of the TV over the fireplace – it doesn’t make design sense unless it is the only wall available for the TV.  Not to mention looking up at a screen is not good for the old neck.   In this case, we have that long wall where the toy storage is to place a media console.

Using Olioboard, I created a design plan for Emily so that she can create the “modern country with a warm spin” (her own words) family room she desires. 

1) The jumping off point was the blue paisley fabric from Tonic Living which will be used for the drapes.  The drapes shown are from Pottery Barn but they look quite similar to the Tonic Living fabric (swatch on left side of board.)  I have mentioned Tonic Living before and not only do they have affordable, cotton fabrics perfect for drapery but they can do the sewing as well.  They are the perfect resource for the DIY client like Emily.

I would love it if Emily changed her blinds to bamboo shades but I don’t think that is in the budget for now.

I paired the blue with a deep yellow but Emily could pair it with orange or red for some interest.  Just not green which isn’t her preference!

2) Emily wanted a sectional and I agreed that it would be a good use of space and provide cosy seating for her family.  The one we have chosen is almost 9’ long on the section in front of the window.  It is slipcovered  in a light brown organic cotton canvas.

3) I love ottomans and this leather one is quite large and perfect for the size of the sectional. Rather than one person having a “chaise,” everyone can put their feet up.  And who doesn’t like doing that?

4) I suggested a custom media console – very long to fill that wall.  I like when TV’s are sitting on a console rather than hanging on the wall.  A display of family photos and art will provide something much more interesting to look at than the  traditional gold-framed prints.  They wouldn’t have to be placed behind the TV as I have shown above.  Room Remix has written a couple of posts on art walls around TVs.

5) Over the fireplace, I am suggesting these baskets which add texture without competing with the art wall.  In front, for extra seating, could be another small rectangular ottoman covered in a kilim or other rug.

6) Toys are always an area to address when you have young kids.  The media console will have storage but a container with a handle like the two I have shown (one wire and one wicker) is a quick way to stash toys.

7) With young children comes lots of spills so Emily doesn’t want to change her area rug right now.  In the future, I see a striped rug like this one from Dash and Albert working well with the rustic elements.  It’s made for indoor/outdoor use and is scrubbable and bleachable!

8) The natural maple hardwood will stay and the wall colour we are thinking of is C2’s Shaker –similar to what I have shown above, a warm neutral.

I know my first attempt at using Olioboard needs a little work (like the bamboo blinds in front of the drapes!)  I think it’s a great tool for anyone to use to visualize their space.

What are your thoughts?  Have you tried Olioboard?

If you require decorating help, please email me at I would love to work with you!


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