Interior Designer Tips for Selecting a New Paint Color

1. Find a starting place. Pull your color inspiration from something already in the room such as an area rug or painting. If you are planning to replace the furnishings in a room as well as fresh paint, start by finding the new items for the room. Finding a paint color to match a rug you love is infinitely easier than trying to find a rug you like to work with the color of your walls.
2. Think about what you like, and what colors you like to wear. If you don’t look good in yellow, do not paint your Master Bathroom yellow or you will be unhappy with yourself every time you look in the mirror. You might be seeing a lot of blues and browns in home furnishings lately, but if you don’t love blue do not paint your room blue just to keep up with the trends.
3. Get inspired! Mother Nature is the world’s best colorist and she pulls together the most incredible palettes. Look around outside for color combinations you might have never considered.
4. Start small and take baby steps. If you want to try a bold color for the first time, start in a small and manageable space such as a Powder Room. The small space will allow you to live with you new bold color in a small amount, plus you will need very few accessories to pull the look together.
5. Ignore all “rules” you may have heard such as dark colors making a room look small. Do not be guided by what you have been told is right or wrong when selecting colors. Yes, some of these rules do have some amount of truth but the world is not black and white, and nor should your home be.

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Reality of a Reality TV Home Show

HGTV’s hit show Designers’ Challenge was planning to film in my hometown. This is the show were three sets of designers present their design concepts to homeowners and a designer is selected to complete the project. Fortunately, my design partner and I were asked to appear on the show.

Pages of paperwork and a very detailed scheduled later, we were given the project specifics and budget to transform a family room. We were allowed to meet with the homeowner once and only once prior to making our presentation. From that point, we had two weeks to design the space and create all on camera presentation material.

The first day of taping was nerve wracking and no, the show’s host Chris Harrison was not present and no, I did not meet him. We were told Chris does all his taping in a Los Angeles studio. The crew that arrived that included the segment director, two camera men, a lighting technician, a sound technician and two production assistants.

The first segment taped was the introduction so viewers get an opportunity to know the designers. Since there were two of us, we were sitting together. We were placed together on a sofa practically in each other’s lap, but we were told that on the camera this looks normal. Cheek to cheek we sat and answered a string of pre-arrange questions about interior design and the local area. We were told how to answer the questions so the answers sounded like talking rather than answering questions. This proved to be harder than it sounds.

The next day was the project presentation; the set up for the presentation took hours, literally. I had always heard about the “hot lights” on a set, and now understand exactly what that means. Numerous sound checks were also conducted; everyone had to be absolutely silent during this process. A neighborhood dog was barking and a bird kept chirping, so a production assistant was sent to deal with both issues. I don’t know what he did but 10 minutes later the neighborhood was silent.

During this set up / waiting period, the director asked to view the presentation boards. He called our boards “eye candy” for the camera and I knew we were in good shape. Finally, we presented our ideas multiple times, pausing for an occasional airplane flying overhead and of course, the occasional innocent blooper. Nothing was shot in just one take. Immediately after finishing, we were hurried out of the house by a production assistant as the next designer had arrived and competing designers were never to meet.

Now, the homeowners needed to make their designer selection. The waiting began and lasted two weeks, although on the show the homeowners say that they made the decision in one week. Finally, the call came and the homeowners selected us to complete project. I remember jumping up and down with my then two year old saying, “Mommy is going to be on TV like Elmo from Sesame Street”. He is now 4 and has yet to show any interest in the segment.

The “real” work began and I got down to the familiar business of an interior design project. There are many details involved never shown on camera such as changes from the homeowner, supervision of subcontractors, product availability issues (since the project had to be completed on a production schedule and not a real world design schedule this was a major obstacle). Regular calls were received from the production company making sure that we were on schedule as the segment was already sold to the network even though filming was not complete.

When the design work was complete, and the production crew came back to town. We shot scenes that showed the outcome of the room as well as wrap up interviews on the overall process. In the midst of my final interview, a bumble bee flew under the strap of my sandal and stung my toes. I fell into my associate which was inevitable since we were standing so close together. In true reality television style, the cameras continued to tape the entire blooper. I signed a form at the beginning of the process stating that all footage the crew obtains can be used in whatever manner they choose, and was teased for the remainder of the day that this out-take would be used in the upcoming blooper program they were creating. I think this was a joke but sometime still wonder.

Over nine months later, the showed aired primetime on HGTV. Emails clogged my inbox 3 hours before the showed aired in my state. The questions were numerous but the overwhelming design question was a request for the brand and name of the paint color we used. Even now, years later, I always know when the show has been rerun because again the emails appear in my inbox, again with the same question. Just in case you are wondering, the color is Roasted Sesame Seed from Benjamin Moore or if a blooper show is ever created, the name is “Roasted Sesame Street”. My profession is interior design but my “real” job is being a mom.

Balance in Budget Decorating

Budget decorating is more than simply just finding good deals.  Basic principals of interior design apply to any decorating project and using these principals of design does not cost a penny.  Balance is one of these design concepts that needs to be considered with all decorating projects.

Good balance can make an interior look just right, especially when decorating on a budget.   Conversely, incorrect balance can destroy an otherwise good design, even a room with high end furnishings.  But what exactly is balance and how can a novice decorator achieve good balance in a room?

The simplest definition of the word balance in decorating is equilibrium.   Often, designers use the word “visual weight” when they are referring to balance.  A balanced interior features furniture, accessories, and colors that are distributed throughout a room in a way that bring a sense of stability.

There are a few basic characteristics of decorating that affect the visual weight in a room.  Here are three basic concepts, ideas to consider when looking at visual balance.

  • Large items appear heavier in a room.
  • Colors that are warm, bright and dark appear to have heavier visual weight than colors that are cool, soft and light.
  • Materials that are opaque appear heavier that materials that are translucent.

It is helpful to keep these concepts in mind when decorating.  So now that you understand the term balance, here is how to put together a room to help achieve a balanced look.

  1. When arranging furniture, start with the largest pieces first.  Furniture such as an armoire, sofa or bed will act as the anchor in a room to which all other furniture will work around.
  2. After your large items are placed, bring in the rest of your smaller furniture and place these items around the room.  Distribute your furniture by varying the height of items throughout the room.   For example, place a low chair next to a tall bookcase.
  3. Bring in your accessories.  Consider placing a translucent item on top of a heavier piece of furniture to continue mixing up the visual weight in the room.  If you have a group of small accessories, consider grouping smaller items together to give them more weight in the space.
  4. Use color to finish the look.  If an area in the room is looking unbalanced in relation to heavier visual areas in a room, use a bolder and bright color in these places as an accent.  This will add visual weight and a pop of color.
  5. Conversely, you can lighten the visual weight of something like a dark sofa by adding lighter colored pillows.
  6. Continue moving things about the room until a visual balance is achieved.  You will know when you have the visual weight correct because suddenly the room will just “feel” right.

Keep in mind these tips plus the basic concepts of balance when working on decorating projects.  Budget decorators that use the basic principals of good design are often the most successful in pulling off a great looking interior at a rock bottom price.

The Basics of Shabby Chic Style

Image: She Know's Home and Garden

A shabby chic look is a style that naturally lends itself to decorating on a budget.  This is because the Shabby Chic look is based on using furnishings that are comfortable, time-worn, and in keeping with simple and practical living.

If you are on a limited decorating budget and want to create a look that is unpretentious yet elegant, Shabby Chic may be the style for you.  Here are a few of the basic elements that make up a Shabby Chic look that you may want to try in your own home.

Slip Covers:  Slip covered furniture is the cornerstone of a Shabby Chic interior.  Not only does slip covering furniture give an old item a new look, the cost is quite inexpensive and slip covering allows you to easily purchase used furniture.  The Shabby Chic style often uses lots of simple white slip covers that look clean and fresh and are extremely budget friendly.

Unmatched Printed Fabrics: To liven up the white slip covers, printed and patterned fabrics are added as comfortable throw pillows, chair cushions, bedding, etc.  These fabrics are often floral but can also be striped, paisley or any other type of subdued print.  These various patterns and colors creates a relaxed feel in a Shabby Chic home, and allows a budget decorator to purchase remnants to mix and match.

Painted Furniture: Painted furniture is another key element in a Shabby Chic interior.  Furniture can be purchased at flea markets and garages sales, and then painted for that old but loved look.  Adding paint to an item of furniture gives a clean appearance, and painting several items all one color (typically white in Shabby Chic) gives unmatched furniture a look of an imperfectly matched set.

Flowers: Fresh flowers add lightness and color, and an instant Chic in the home.  To achieve a Shabby Chic look with flowers, use cut flowers from the garden or make you own bouquets from flowers you purchase.  The floral arrangements are typically informal and organic, with a look of just being thrown together.  Flowers are used in all rooms of the home including the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Unique Lighting: Shabby Chic features light fixtures and lamps that typically appear to be flea market finds.  Often the light fixtures have glass or crystal beads which in juxtaposition to the casual furniture creates an unexpected look.  Lamps are often painted, and feature fabric shades made from printed fabrics.

Now that you know some of the key fundamentals that go into making a Shabby Chic look, you can try to incorporate some of these elements into your own home.  A major appeal and the beauty of a Shabby Chic look is the imperfection, so do not be afraid of making a mistake when giving this style a try.