Dramatic Outside Color Creates Dazzling Interior

October 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

arubaresort“Bring the outside in” — how many times have you heard that line before — but honestly, what a great idea! And one of the best ways to do it is with an accent wall that pulls a color right out of the view from the window. (Yes, accent walls are back.) This bedroom from a resort in Aruba has an incredible palette of blues and greens from which to choose the accent wall behind the bed. And how spectacular is it!

But you can do the same with the view from your bedroom. Choose a color that pops out at you when you stare out the window — it helps if there’s a beautiful maple in full color or a blossoming bush.

If your bedroom faces a concrete high-rise, not to worry. Your color palette is completely open to a view you might fantasize about. Create a bedroom oasis that reminds you of your trip to Bali (okay, maybe just your favorite House Hunters International on HGTV). Be bold or be subtle. Just be a force of change in your bland bedroom. And go ahead. Bring that outside in!

Ready to Immerse Your Home in Color?

November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

redsAs with haute couture in the fashion world, we often look to hotels and other public spaces for trends in home color and design. Look no further than The William, a boutique hotel in New York, where each room immerses its guests in a paint bucket of saturated color punctuated by droplets of white for chroma relief. I am not sure if you can order up a particular color to match your luggage, but nevertheless, your experience there will be unforgettable.

Are we ready to move this color trend into the home? Some already have, but many of us will take a little while to move back into the rich dark hues of a decade ago. I’m just getting used to the freshness and brightness of white walls. But who knows.

BluesIf you are contemplating a project that involves intense color, start with a small space like a guest bath or a guest room where the color will make a huge impact and the cost of painting over it will be minimal. Make sure you have adequate lighting so the color will show “true” and you will not end up in a cave. And remember to punctuate your color with white or cream to make the color “pop” and add bits of black not only to avoid the I-got-lost-in-a-box-of-crayons look but also to add an air of sophistication to the project.

Full color on!

(photos from Dwell magazine)

Hop the Trend: Consignment Stores

December 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Okay, I admit it. I am a consignment store junkie. And with good reason. Not only is it “green” to furnish your home with items that have been around awhile, it’s amazing what you can find for a fraction of the retail price for a new item.  And the consignment bug has started to spread to my clients. During one project, we were looking for a settee of a specific length to fit in a tight spot. Tricky to find new anyway unless we went custom. My client decided to check out the local consignment store, and he found the perfect piece. Even the legs and wood color were perfect. Call it luck or call it karma.


The Cannery Exchange in Newport Beach, CA. (photo credit: Jody Tiongco)

I am convinced that these vintage pieces have a soul — they certainly have a history visible by the lovely worn patina on the arms or the scratches on the tabletop. But every scratch has a story attached to it, and that story comes with the piece to its new home.

You can always paint and recover a chair, for example, if you want a painted furniture look. Again, you’re probably starting with a chair that’s far better constructed than what you can find now so you’re already ahead. It’s like finding a piece of gently worn designer clothing or better yet a piece with the tags still hanging on it. Bonus!

Give your home some character by adding a piece or two of consignment furniture. But beware. You might catch the consignment bug too.

Neutral but Never Boring

December 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Does your home scream 1972 when you enter the front door? Are you stuck with metallic wallpaper on the ceiling in the guest bath, orange shag carpet in the basement, or an avocado bathtub? Then maybe it’s time to update. But this time, instead of hopping on the latest hot new trend (I could name a few here, but I’ll resist), how about giving your home a classic re-do. Something that will stand the test of time, or at least a decade or two, without branding your home with a particular year. For that kind of longevity, we turn to a neutral palette, but neutral does not have to mean beige and it’s hardly ever boring.

-The key to a neutral palette is texture. You could have an all-white living room but if that white includes fuzzy white pillows, a shiny white marble table top, and some warm white chenille upholstery, then the room will have plenty of interest.

-Neutral does not have to mean just one color either. In this room, the walls are a latte color, the sofa is dark brown leather, and there is plenty of color in the books and objects on the white bookshelves. What makes this room work so well is that the stonework on the fireplace is a feature and because the other furnishings do not stomp all over the subtle colors in the stones, the room’s palette includes peaches and golds and grays and tans and taupes — more than enough colors.

-Neutral allows you to bring in color in the art, pillows, and other more temporary furnishings and accessories without clashing with a strong wall color and a brightly colored sofa.

-Neutral allows you to change your accessories with the seasons and the holidays without overpowering the existing color palette or the holiday decorations.

-And when you’re selling your house, neutral allows potential buyers to see themselves in your home and that is critical for a successful sale.

So as you choose tile and furnishings and paint for your newly updated space, consider neutral because neutral does not have to be boring.

It’s All About the Windows

May 7, 2009 § 14 Comments

Whether we’re all craving light or fresh air, who knows, but the focus these days is on windows. And we’re not talking about the old standard white replacement models anymore, that’s fzstorm2or sure. Now we have choices from black to almond to green and even red. And whatever the shape of your space, we have a window to fit into it. Awhile back the trend was to update the interior lighting plan with recessed cans and spotlights, uplights, downspots, and all the specialized lamps you could imagine for your space. Now we’ve moved on to creating unique window plans to suit the house: clerestory, stained glass, enormous picture windows, and different styles of window mullions to fit the style of your house, from Colonial to Victorian to Mission. Even new homes can be made to look old — well sort of.

Word of caution: If you have an historic home or a home with a very definite style, you should try to repair the original windows before resorting to a replacement. There’s very good information at the following link to help you with windows in historic homes. Or any window decisions, for that matter.


If you have old wooden windows, paint the window sash and mullions a coordinating color (black looks spectacular) to add life to your home.  Those of us stuck with white vinyl are jealous…

Color Your Spirits for the Holidays

December 12, 2008 § 3 Comments

gingerbread21 Remember when the Grinch stole Christmas? All the trees, lights, stockings, and gifts —  the trappings associated with a wonderful holiday celebration– were suddenly gone? They had vanished during the night while everyone down in Whoville slept. What happened next in this wonderful Dr. Seuss tale was even more remarkable for its simplicity. Despite losing everything, Whoville didn’t seem to care. All the Whos down in Whoville celebrated anyway.

Of course, the story has a happy ending, but for many people this year,  the heartwarming bedtime story has led to a nightmare from which they cannot awaken fast enough. This year it truly feels a little like the Grinch has been here again. With the world-wide recession, job loss, and home foreclosures, many of us around the country are struggling to find that holiday spirit that we used to have and that we desperately want our children to experience in the midst of all this mess.

If you’ve had to cut back this year from your more typical shopping, decorating, and holiday festivities, you are not alone. Keep in mind that gifts can be simple (like homemade cookies), acts of kindness can mean more to people than more stuff,  and spending time with our kids is ultimately the gift they’ll remember long past any particular disappointments on Christmas morning.

And to lift our spirits and with the festival of colors inspired by a child’s gingerbread house, let’s all go a little crazy with color this Christmas.

Dig out that snowman sweater from the back of the closet and wear it. Often. It’s going to bring a smile to somebody’s face and that’s a good thing.

String a row of colorful neckties, like garland, from one end of the wall to the other. Your kids will think you’re nuts but who cares?

Fill a big bowl with scraps of colorful ribbons and little balls of leftover yarn and a few silvery mismatched ornaments and display it in the middle of the coffee table. Now you’re getting the idea.

The holidays don’t have to be the way we knew them as kids. Times are different now. But you don’t have to spend much, if any, money at all if you dig deep into your hope chest of creativity for some colorful decorating ideas that will raise your spirits and everyone else’s too.

In Times of Trouble, Paint!

November 25, 2008 § 24 Comments

If you’re hunkering down to wait until economic conditions improve before making changes to your home, just remember that a gallon of paint costs only about $23 (Valspar from Lowe’s). I’ve moved to Valspar from Benjamin Moore (they don’t pay me so I can do that) because the paint is a better value. I havpaintcane been very impressed so far with the quality of the paint, how it goes on the wall, and the ease with which Lowe’s will color-match. If you are trying to save money, and who isn’t, I highly recommend Valspar.

As we spend more time watching the news these days and less time at the shopping mall, a small painting project may be just what the doctor ordered. A gallon of paint can brighten your mood and make you feel like you have control over something in your life, even if it’s just an accent wall behind your sofa. Or try painting the wall behind your bed — you may feel more inclined to MAKE the bed in the morning and that activity alone will give your mood a boost.

A quart of paint will cover your kitchen backsplash. Choose a satin or semi-gloss finish for easy cleaning. With a roll of blue painter’s tape (another inexpensive purchase), you can make stripes or “tiles” on your backsplash and perk up a drab kitchen.

Kids love redecorating their rooms. Changing the paint color and moving the bed can inspire your child to take pride in keeping the room neat. And while you’re moving things around, why not go through the toy chest and decide which toys can move on to other kids.

If the economy has you down, do something fun. Paint!

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