Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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Reinventing the Inside

Erin Crowell - February 20th, 2012  

Local design consultant shares interior decorating tips

For those of us who are completely lost when it comes to interior design, there are folks like Diane Kolak, design consultant and owner of Dwelement Home Design, who can help make our spaces more than just “livable.”

The Grand Traverse resident shares her tips on several common interior design topics in this year’s Home & Furnishings issue.

Northern Express: What is your background in design?

Diane Kolak: I have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, and I’ve been practicing full time since 1995, now working as a freelance designer specializing in print. Basic design principles like line, form, color and rhythm transcend the medium, so I’ve always loved applying my expertise to my own home. It seemed to me that there might be a demand in Traverse City and online for a design consulting service that gives DIY homeowners design guidance without the expense and commitment of a full-fledged interior design service. So I started Dwelement Home Design (dwelement.com) to fill that niche as a hired design eye – someone who can help homeowners figure out their personal style and then show them how to apply it to their spaces in ways they can afford.

NE: What is the simplest (and most affordable) way to make an old space look new?

Kolak: Sometimes old spaces look better old, if they have interesting architectural features or a desirable rustic patina. In those cases, emphasizing the unique features with color or furniture arrangement is a good thing. In cases where a refreshing design is needed, paint goes a very long way. Successful color selection can give a room a whole different feel. Another high-impact change is updated lighting. Not just the fixtures, but the type and placement of lights to create a better mood or function in the room.

NE: What type of home decor is really in at the moment?

Kolak: Developing a look that’s unique and expressive is always in. In other words, don’t follow trends but choose pieces that express your personal style. There are always trends, of course. Right now the colors gray, white, and bright yellow are big. Mixing contrasting styles for an eclectic look is popular, but tricky to pull off successfully. Natural materials and motifs are everywhere, including stone, wood, natural fabrics, and organic patterns. Wallpaper is enjoying a comeback, with large-scaled patterns being used in small doses to add interest to a room.

NE: Feng shui. Do you think it exists?

Kolak: Many of the principles of feng shui are simply good design standards. For example, the concept of chi, or energy that flows throughout a space, is really a reflection of spatial balance and unity within a home’s floor plan and furniture arrangement. Following the tenets of feng shui will usually result in a room that feels balanced and “happy.” It helps to make the intangible qualities of a pleasant space easier to execute, and for that reason I think it’s worth understanding. But I wouldn’t count on a fountain in your foyer to make you win the lottery.

NE: For those who are pretty open to what their space will look like, how do you peg their style ... or rather, lead them in the right direction?

Kolak: I have a detailed questionnaire that I use to first nail down the necessary functions of a space, then identify a person’s style. I ask questions about color preferences, what they like and dislike about their current home, what their dream home looks like in their imagination, whether they prefer formal or casual entertaining. Then my process is very open and collaborative, giving the client plenty of opportunity to steer me in a different direction before the final design is established. Once a design plan is developed, clients can take their time implementing it with the reassurance that each step they take works within the larger plan. Giving the client control over the execution allows for measured spending, as opposed to a large bill all at once.

NE: For those who are terrified of bold colors, what’s your advice?

Kolak: If you’re terrified of bold colors, then maybe you should avoid bold colors. I believe that every person has an innate, personal color palette, and this changes very little throughout one’s lifetime. Discovering that palette and staying true to it will result in rooms where the client is comfortable and happy. I start by identifying preferences for warm or cool colors (reds & golds or blues & greens), then determine a level of saturation that the person prefers (bright, pastel, neutral, or a mix?). After the client’s preferences are clear, a color that suits the light and the space can be pinpointed. When couples disagree on color, it’s usually possible to develop a palette for walls, finishes, and fabrics that satisfies them both.

NE: What’s the biggest “mistake” people tend to make when it comes to their space?

Kolak: I think the biggest mistake in terms of dollars is buying the wrong furniture. It’s so important to understand the flow of a space and its dimensions before spending money on the important pieces. Over-sized furniture is very common now, and it looks much different in a spacious showroom than it will in a modest living room. A professional assessment of the space before you invest in furniture can prevent expensive mistakes and result in a more comfortable room.

NE: Let’s say I have a $100 budget to spend on redecorating my bedroom. How can I get the biggest bang for my buck?

Kolak: $100 … that’s pretty tight. Paint will be your most powerful design tool. Choose colors you love for the walls and ceiling, and a beautiful white with some dimension (like Sherwin-Williams Alabaster) for furniture, if you’re dealing with outdated or mismatched pieces. Clear the room and paint everything. Then be very choosy about what goes back in. If it isn’t useful or beautiful, it doesn’t belong in your space. Be ruthless with clutter. Invest in a closet system to allow for more storage, if needed. A simple and serene bedroom is good for your health and spirit.

NE: How should someone starting out in their first house or apartment prioritize their furniture budget?

Kolak: Buy quality used furniture. Shop frequently at thrift stores, consignment shops, and online classifieds. Be picky and wait around for the right piece at the right price. Don’t be put off by an ugly finish or fabric – these things can be changed, often on your own with a little research and work. Look for signs of quality like dovetailed drawers, solid wood frames, solid metal hardware, matched grain, and coil springs on upholstered pieces.

Read more about Diane Kolak's design consulting services at dwelement.com or call 231-649-2184 to schedule an appointment.

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