Everybody’s Favorite Neutral: Revere Pewter

January 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

As our design aesthetic moved steadily from beige to gray over the past several years, one warm gray popped up as the perfect transitional color. Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter HC-172 is currently the number one  all-around neutral as it is not too light, not too dark, not too yellow, not too green, not an ounce of pink, and even not too gray. Perfect with all kinds of complementary colors including this luscious Persimmon 2088-40 on the ceiling.
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I like Revere Pewter in public areas like the dining room as it looks spectacular with warm golds and crystal. In the kitchen, it highlights the stainless steel appliances. In the hallway, it even makes a golden oak bannister look terrific.

As one fan describes it, the color “calms and restores, like driftwood found on the beach.” Yup. Kind of makes me want to dunk the whole house in it.

Return of the Gilded Age, Well Not Exactly

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

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We have Downton Abbey, Princess Kate, and the popularity of all things English to thank for the resurgence of gold in interior design right now. At least that’s my opinion…  And what a welcome sight it is.

After too many years degilding homes of anything that even hinted of gold, brass or yellow, the hue of royalty has returned.

The new interpretation, however, is decidedly fresh as we see in this living room from Traditional Home magazine. The wall color is so subtle that it accentuates even the creamy tan stripe on the window panel and the moldings on the ceiling. The gold demilune table and classic gold-framed art above it pop. As does the Chinese porcelain, as if pulled directly from the painting. Even the floor color is perfect, establishing a solid grounding upon which to layer all those beautiful blues and wheat tones.

The look is not your grandmother’s living room, with all due respect to your grandmother. Gold is nolonger shunned from updated decor.

Welcome back, gold.

Interior designer: Joseph Minton, with Paula Lowes and Michelle M. Wade

Have a Colorful New Year!

December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here’s one New Year’s resolution I just know you can keep. Add one piece of color to your life. Whether it’s a fresh orange pillow on the sofa, a bright red tape dispenser for your desk, a sunny yellow spatula for beside the stove, or one of these fun pops of colorful furniture.

Why add color? So simple. Color can lift your spirits, soothe the beast, fire up the team, warm some hearts, and remind you of being a kid. And what a great way to start out the New Year.

Have a Colorful New Year Everybody!

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.

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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.

What’s All the Buzz about Undertones?

December 28, 2012 § 5 Comments

Determining a beige color undertone (defined by color expert Maria Killam as “a colour applied under or seen through another colour”) can be tricky. Beige can have one of several undertones: pink, yellow, or green are the basics. If you have dining room furniture with a decidedly yellow/orange hue and walls with a pink undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Georgetown Pink Beige HC-56, then yikes, you have a problem. Off to the paint store.

Bottom Line: Mixing pink-beige with yellow-beige (or yellow/orange) is a big no-no. Fix: Choose a paint with a different (non-pink) undertone like Benjamin Moore’s Monroe Bisque HC-26 that has a yellow undertone and looks great with the golden oak.

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If you avoid the mistake of mixing pink and yellow undertones, you’re on your way to understanding them. The other nuances of what undertones to mix and not to mix will come much easier. Note: Mixing pink and yellow vibrant hues is perfectly okay. It’s just the dreaded undertones that can trip you up. Beware.

Getting Down to Brass Tacks about Brass

December 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a difference a decade makes. What used to be the lighting Imagefixture of choice in upscale homes is now (still, even after several years out of favor) being tossed in a dumpster by young home owners who view the shiny yellow metal as the equivalent of how we viewed our grandmother’s dark brown paneling. Of no value.

Instead there are dozens of metal choices and finishes for lighting and other home accessories like light switch covers and doorknobs. So anti-shiny-brass are today’s home buyers that some are just shy of insisting that even all shiny brass door hinges be switched out to something else.

Note: these design trends may be regional and they don’t apply to historic homes so don’t panic if you love your brass chandelier and it fits your home’s decor perfectly. But If you are not happy with your shiny traditional yellow brass chandelier in your dining room or kitchen, you have three options:

1) Thumb your nose at metal color trends and simply wait for shiny yellow brass to come back in style. Kind of like you kept your go-go boots and bell bottoms from junior high. Yes, both trends came back around but not quite the way they looked in the late 60s. But still,  doing nothing is always a design option.

2) Paint the shiny brass chandelier a different color. I once stood on a ladder, leaned over the dining table and painted my client’s brass chandelier first with a base coat of matte black to cover all the sheen and then a faux finish of browns and oranges to simulate a rustic bronze finish. It worked. The house sold.

3) Replace the old chandelier with a more current brass option like this one. The metal is toned down (antiqued) and the candelabra bulbs are covered with contemporary silk drum shades — a traditional yet updated look. Honestly, the antique brass has been around forever, and it went through a period of disfavor right around the time the shiny metal took over. But the muted finish, with updated shades, is back and looking good.

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http://www.lampsplus.com/products/crystorama-luxo-collection-antique-brass-30-inch-wide-chandelier__p9693.html

What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling?

November 29, 2012 § 266 Comments

The ceiling is the fifth wall and many decorators and designers feel that keeping the ceiling white is like “throwing a sheet over the room” (Christopher Lowell said that years ago). But there are a few conditions to consider before painting the ceiling anything other than white:

 1) Is your ceiling heavily textured? In many old houses, the ceiling is patterned (and God forbid, “popcorned”) and therefore very difficult to paint well. Also, painting it anything other than white will call attention to it and maybe that’s not what you want. One solution is to have your ceilings replastered to match your walls and painted, but if that’s out of the question, I would stick with white.

 2) Is your ceiling a smooth plaster? If so, you should definitely paint it. How lucky you are! See below for what color.

2A) Is your ceiling really high? If so, you can paint it virtually any color that goes with the rest of the room. If you’d like to bring the ceiling down visually, consider a color darker than your wall color or a warm color (both will advance and appear to bring the ceiling down to a level that’s more in scale with your room). Also consider adding crown moulding if it’s not already there. The moulding will also bring the ceiling down by calling your eye’s attention to it. And it really finishes the room.

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 2B) Is your ceiling low or average height? Consider painting it a tint of the wall color. If your walls are a medium blue, then your ceiling would be the very lightest blue on the color swatch or even lighter (white with a dash of blue). This will help to round out the room and make the ceiling part of the overall decor — not just that white sheet over the top.

3) Does your room have enough light? Bright white ceilings do help bounce light back into the room so if your room is already dark, pay special attention to the ceiling color. White can be used effectively, but light tints on the ceiling will also reflect light. Just avoid a ceiling color that is going to absorb all the light and leave the room dark.

4) Are you painting a guest bath? I like to paint the wall color right up over the ceiling in a guest bathroom. Doing that makes the room feel larger by blending the walls and ceiling together and avoiding sharp lines and corners.  Or do something kind of exotic on the ceiling, like the Moroccan tent (see photo above).

5) Are you painting a bedroom? In what other room do we lie around and stare at the ceiling? Why not paint it something interesting. In a bedroom, the sky’s the limit (literally) — from puffy blue clouds on a backdrop of sky blue to a quilt of squares in different colors (Candice Olson did a fabulous multi-colored geometric ceiling in a master bedroom). And in kids’ rooms, the ceiling is just one more space to use your creativity.

Hope this helps the “Do I paint the ceiling?” dilemma.

Design Star 2011 Finale

September 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

Okay HGTV fans. This is it! The finale between Meg and Karl is on tonight. For those who don’t follow Design Star, it’s not too late to check in. Design Star has spun off several excellent designers (David Bromstad, Kim Myles) and like them or not, these designers influence TV viewers and their expectations. I see that all the time.

So who is it going to be? Meg has a lovely fresh preppy style and a bubbly on-air personality. Karl’s architectural background gives him a very professional, big-picture design. He nailed the small-cottage challenge!

Move over Candice. Here comes a new face on HGTV!

When Tiling Goes Over the Top — Literally

February 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

If you have ANY plans to sell your home within the next, say, 10 years, I do not recommend dipping your bathroom in a vat of mosaic glass tiles. I know they are stunningly effervescent especially in cool swimming pool shades of blues and greens, but my gut tells me that the extreme application of almost any material will become the “avocado green” of the next generation of home buyers.

When Leslie Marshall cautioned, “Choose your color confidently because retiling can be a costly venture,” (http://www.bhg.com/decorating/color/colors/add-color-without-paint/) she might have added that you should think twice before tiling every surface at ALL!

I know that floor-to-ceiling (including the ceiling!) tile is becoming popular in newly created “spa” bathrooms — yes, they’re easy to keep clean and they look spectacular too. Just keep in mind that somebody is going to have to chisel that color down from the rafters when the time comes to prepare your home for sale. Chances are pretty good that we will have moved our design aesthetic along to new ideas by then and your bathroom will be “just so last decade.”

The alternative? Think longevity for your bathroom. Add trendy color in ways that will be switched out easily either by you or whoever gets to whip your home into shape for resale. A little bit of tile color in the bathroom– on the floor, in the shower area, or around the mirror–will go a long way toward modernizing your bathroom without taking the room over the top.

Reviving Old Furniture with Wall Color

May 13, 2008 § 16 Comments

Do you have a sofa from the 80s that looked great back then but kind of looks sad at the moment? Of course, you can slipcover it, but how about punching up the color behind it. We took a living room with blah beige striped wallpaper and pastel patterned upholstery (in good condition) and brought it to life with a soft blue-green paint color (Benjamin Moore’s stratton blue HC-142) and some new pillows. What a difference. All of a sudden the sofas looked intentional and the room came alive.

furniture twoThe trick here is to pick a wall color that is rich but subdued. You need a greyed down shade for this effect to work. Otherwise, a bright wall color might just make your furniture look even older. But a nice tasteful splash of wall color will give your furniture a few more years of life. And in this age of recycling, re-purposing, and reusing old stuff, it’s all about making what you have work.

Before you drag your old furniture off to the consignment store, try painting your room.

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