Go For It!

Go For It!


As the economy improves, more homeowners have the money and inclination to think about investing their homes again. Long-delayed decorating and remodeling projects are moving back on the front burner – where they will often continue to simmer, while homeowners struggle to select colors, styles and a design direction.

The advice from designer Lukas Machnik, first winner of the NBC reality show American Dream Builders: stop procrastinating and go for it.

“There is no magic formula,” he says. “The architecture of a home and how the homeowner lives dictate the best design and decorating approach.” In the reality TV series that brought him fame, Machnik and 11 other professional designers competed on teams to renovate two homes. Machnik won, taking home the $25,000 prize and the title American Dream Builder for his clean, spare design work in transforming a conventional beach house.

No matter what, Machnik says, a homeowner should not feel compelled to follow any current design or remodeling trends.

“Trends come and go, and what’s popular right now might not be popular a few years from now,” he says. Machnik, who runs Chicago-based Lukas Machnik Design, was born in Krakow, Poland.

If you are someone who really can’t buck the trends, Machnik recommends falling back on classic designs and combinations that have been tested through time.

Wide plank flooring is a beautiful architectural element. So is collecting vintage furniture pieces, he says.

In a contemporary setting “stunning pieces of vintage furniture and art can become a modern trend,” Machnik says. “Designing and decorating is about classic architecture and about keeping the integrity of your home,” he says.

“Whatever you do, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, embrace the home and keep it true to what it is,” Machnik cautions.

When decorating, most homeowners think about the big picture. Machnik encourages homeowners to think much smaller. “Don’t overlook the little things, even as small as the doorknobs,” he says. “The details matter.”

Machnik personally prefers a ‘less is more,’ or minimalist design approach. Minimalism is a design trend that started in the 20th century and continues today. Minimalist rooms and designs are stripped down to include only their essential elements.

Subtracting, rather than adding, is an approach that homeowners who feel stuck coming up with a redecorating plan or who would simply like to rearrange their belongings better would do well to think about, he suggests.

“Instead of oversaturating your house with everything, rotate items to make them feel special,” he says. “Don’t lose them amidst all the other tchotchkes.”

Focus on creating a moment in time, Machnik says. “It’s not about how many chairs or pieces you have.”

On that same note, when you do buy items, Machnik suggests buying one piece at a time. “People think you have to buy everything at once, but that’s not true,” he says. “Get pieces that are going to be timeless.”

Machnik feels that “homes are becoming heirlooms and people want to be proud of them again. If you’re remodeling your home, man caves are popular, and rooms the entire family can use are always the trend,” he says. “But we’re seeing more luxurious bathrooms and kitchens, areas where you spend the most time. Let it become your sanctuary.”

While you’re thinking of designing your home and your own budget, Machnik says that it’s also good to think about another kind of green.

“Ten years ago, we thought about using green, recycled material. Now we’re looking at how the product is manufactured with an eye on sustainability,” he says. “It’s about the energy-efficiency and making our carbon footprint smaller without sacrificing design. It’s much more conducive to what the future will be.”

Machnik says little in his life has changed since he won the reality competition. The biggest upshot: a great sense of responsibility.

“It changes the way I look at things,” he says. “I’m the first American Dream Builder. I need to be master for my style of work and the industry. I just hope it gives inspiration to a lot of people.”

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