Inspiration from world travels is what fuels my design aesthetic. I put together a little collage of these influences. This living room is under $10,000, with the exception of the floors.
Though the design world has seen the Martinique/Banana Leaf/Palm Tree print ad nauseam, I am still obsessed with it. I even tried to snag a Lilly Pulitzer palazzo pant with an interpretation of the classic print, but it was sold out in the first hour of launch on the Target website! Back to the beautiful print. For moral reasons, we must boycott The Beverly Hills Hotel, the first place I laid my eyes on such beautiful wallpaper. But that doesn't mean we can't surround ourselves in banana leaf walls! Here's a design I put together:
Painter's tape is a gift sent to us from the heavens. With painters' tape, you can visualize a room's entire layout, adjusting it as you see fit---without committing to anything. Perfect for you scaredy cats and design commitment-phobes out there! You should own a roll at all times.
My recent uses include:
1) Headboard size
2) Drapery width
3) Rug size and location
4) Wall art (tape it out and adjust to make it centered...then measure the width. Use a marker or pencil to mark a dot in the center, and you'll know exactly where to hammer the nail. By marking the tape instead of the wall, you avoid unecessary damage if you change your mind).
Painter's tape can also be used to figure out furniture locations. Let's say you want a bigger coffee table, but aren't sure if it'll impede the flow of the room. Tape it out and you'll see if you can walk around it comfortably.
The fact that it isn't too adhesive enables you to use it without damaging your walls. Taping out sections of space makes it easy to envision the room you are trying to create. Take a headboard, for instance. You know you need one, but aren't sure about the height. Walk into the room, and visualize the ideal height you're going for. I make a mental note of the spot, and quickly put tape there. (This process is much easier with other people helping you).
Stay tuned for upcoming photos of that master bedroom! It will NOT disappoint!
You're a young professional. You want to be taken seriously. But how can you progress toward your dream career or dream relationship if your home doesn't reflect that same desire to be taken seriously?
If your friends tell you your place needs a little TLC, you should listen. Do you ever hear things like:
- "Your kitchen is a disaster zone,"
- "Your couch is falling apart,"
- "That furniture never should have made it out of the 80s?"
They are all legitimate criticisms. And they legitimately affect your life. Let's be honest:
- Guys: You're not going to attract quality girls with a mattress on the floor and frat house paraphernalia everywhere. Accordingly,
- Girls: You're not going land a husband with teddy bears all over your bed and photos of your drunken escapades on the nightstand.
If you want something great to happen in your life, consider changing your surroundings. (This is the Aha moment). You can only be nudged so much until you realize something's got to change.
If people urge you to update your home, listen. Then hire someone like me to counsel, educate, and rally for you.
An interior designer is a lifestyle coach, therapist, and personal trainer in one.
When you bring a designer into your life, you get a lot more than furniture. You first get someone to listen to your concerns and goals (like a shrink). You get someone to tell you what you need to hear (like a good shrink). You get someone to outline a solution (like a great shrink). Then, you get someone to hold your hand through the entire process (like a shrink who is always on call and always available and enthusiastic to help you). Then, you can sit back and wait for a big reveal: the moment you see how much better your life will be in your new, logical, and happy place.
An interior designer tells you what you need to hear.
That couch you inherited a few years ago, with a little wear and tear but no big deal? In reality, that couch has gouging holes, stains, and years of filth. It's a massive eye sore that makes the whole room intolerable. Your friends laugh about the debouchery the couch has endured. And how gross it is now. So get rid of it. Someone on Craigslist will see your trash as their treasure.
Figure out your budget for its replacement. There are some gorgeous pieces out there--most good sectionals will cost over a thousand bucks. If that's too much, go to Ikea, or snag a great deal elsewhere. People like me can do it for you.
That old couch sucks. Just like with an old boyfriend or girlfriend, the relationship has run its course. Free yourself of the baggage. Just like a new pair of jeans make you feel fresh and confident, a new couch will do the same. Improved surroundings instantly improve your outlook on everything else. When your kitchen is a mess, you avoid cooking altogether, right? You have to clean it out to function again.
It's all connected.
Quitting bad decor is like quitting a bad job, bad lifestyle, bad relationship, or bad addiction to cigarettes, booze, or high fructose corn syrup. It's a little scary at first, but the resulting freedom and happiness is worth it.
If you're in one of these situations, you're probably overwhelmed and don't know where to start. That's when you call the Interior Style Pharmacist. I will plan it out. I'll tell you the blunt truth, and also hold your hand through your recovery. You'll be happy you did. And your shrink will thank you for it.
This one's for my fellow Angelenos:
It's pouring outside! When you come home in a drenched raincoat, don't put it on the couch! It's disrespectful to the furniture. With this in mind, I have some fun coat hooks to consider! On rainy days it's nice to add a little humor, so check these out:
Here's something brilliant:
If you're into the industrial/antique style:
What about a home with a cutesy aesthetic?
Too cutesy? Let's go back to guy-friendly:
Happy Friday and drive safely!
Considering the title "Agent Orange, Part II," it's easy to acknowledge my passion for the color orange. Design-wise, it is that great.
I present more objects that (potentially) belong in your home. These are quick purchases. Take a gander.
You don't need to buy furniture if you don't want to. You could add orange into your home through small accessories.
When it comes to orange, I put my money where my mouth is. These are some orange pieces currently gracing my apartment:
If you're afraid of prints that are too bold , but still want intensity in a rug, go for a punch of color with a saturated jewel tone.
Over dyed rugs look particularly good in strong reds, blues, and greens--which, in my mind, translates to rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, of course.
Emerald and sapphire tones lend an element of exotic.
When I discuss orange paint with clients, time after time, the conversation seems to go, "I'm much more comfortable with red than with orange." Look, people. Red is darker than orange. If you're going to be afraid, fear red, not it's innocent relative.
Orange is, in fact, less risky than red. It is easier to paint over if you're unsatisfied. And it tends to be happy, and warm. Red can often read "siren," (in a bad way). Red can cheapen a room, with those who don't know how to manage it. Orange, on the other hand, is never sleazy.
Push your comfort zone to include an orange wall or two. Perhaps just use it as an accent wall, or a small fraction of an allover stencil (think Moroccan tile motif). Or just paint that old chair to breathe some life back into it. You needn't be afraid of orange. Orange is your friend.
Most shades of orange are flattering to us. At 14, knowing this fact, I painted my bathroom Persimmon (the exact color doesn't exist anymore, I've been looking for it!). So, every day during early teens, I looked in the mirror to see a girl with a beautiful glow. And, no, I wasn't delusional--it was common knowledge among my friends that doing hair and makeup at my house was the best for confidence.
Fast forward to present day...these are some paint colors on the market that I love, and would likely recommend to anyone in need of a little "happy."
Here are some oranges closer to red on the spectrum:
Before you go slather your walls in a deep orange, you must use a primer. Primer is a special type of paint to "prime" a wall for a color different than its existing hue. Primer is really important when going from white to a saturated color (especially red), as it prevents a splotchy effect. Think of primer as a palate cleanser, designed to provide a blank slate.
These next paint colors are less bright, as we depart from tangerine hues and head into pumpkin:
Now, into the rust family. These colors tend to work better with established, grand decor. I wouldn't pair a rust wall with dinky furniture. I'd use thick, distressed woods and lots of textiles. Not for minimalist rooms, in my opinion.
Don't forget to prime!
Also, I wouldn't skimp on price when going with such a rich color. If it's between $30 and $60+ for a gallon in any given brand, go with the more expensive option. With such intense colors, you want to ensure good adhesion and durability.
"Tangerine Tango" is Pantone's Color of the Year. It just so happens to be my favorite color, so I am a happy advocate. Orange is arguably the loudest color on the spectrum. Decorating with it makes a statement that you aren't afraid to take risks. I believe the point of design is to take risks, as I strive to nudge people out of their comfort zones. But I can only nudge so much. If your aesthetic is on the drab side, take a healthy dose of orange. Two quick ways to embrace it are with rugs and lamps.
Rx: Splash some orange onto your floor. It sounds frightening, but it can be stunning.
I love grand lamps. This one from CB2 is awesome, but I would not recommend it for a small room. It would be best suited in a large, loft- sized room, over a nice club chair.
Next up: Orange furniture and appliances for all you design commitment-phobes out there...
I love fusing fashion trends with home decor, especially to bring in any new season. Cable knit is all over the runways this fall. And sweaters occupy most clothing stores these days.
With temperatures falling, we like to have warmth fill our homes. This can be true for more than the thermostat. A great way to welcome in fall and winter is to surround yourself with warm texture. Here are some products to do just that.
Buying from Etsy is a great way to support small business. I love these pieces:
Cable knit is also being used as a motif on non-fabric materials.
How about a vase?
Cable knit in the world of lighting. Who knew?
Take a load off on some some comfy knit:
These are some quick buys to add knit into your home:
Disclaimer: Most of the pieces featured are not pet-friendly. Cats, in particular, will love nothing more than to destroy intricate knit patterns. And dogs cannot be trusted with anything intricate! So, if you're not a pet owner, go to town with cable knit this season! And one day, may you be so blessed as to get a little fur ball of your own.
One way to refresh your decor, without committing to all-out redesign, is to get a small piece of furniture, like a side table. For the most part, it's easy to move around, and can become a focal point in the room. Here are some eccentric tables to consider:
And, lastly, a burst of color:
Have you ever had a flower bouquet that didn't properly fit into any of your vases? This is a perfect opportunity to get creative. My tried and true go-to option is to use a mason jar. It works particularly well with fuller, wider flowers like garden roses.
I bought my jars at Ralph's over a year ago. I have the quart and pint; both work well for a handful of roses. Get the "regular mouth" jars, as opposed to "wide mouth." Regular mouth bunches the flowers nicely. If you don't have any mason jars, and really want classic ones, go here:
When stems are too long, especially from market-bought bouquets, use a pair of pruning shears. For around $15, it's worth the investment. Those hydrangea stems from Trader Joe's are impossible to cut with regular scissors; and who wants to bring out the cleaver and chopping block? (I try not to mix dirt with food).
Remember, when cutting rose stems, cut at a 45 degree angle.
My shears weren't that easy to find, I got them at a nursery. You might as well get them online.
Here are some other ideas to try:
1) Other types of jars, like those for olives and pasta sauce. You can use a hairdryer to help remove the label.
2) Watering cans and pitchers.
3) Candle glasses, especially the tall, narrow ones. There are some pretty ones out there. When the candle burns out, scoop out the cooled wax. Then put it the freezer, maxing the wax easier to scrape away.
4) Tea tins, for really short arrangements.
5) Wine and other alcohol bottles. Or fancy glass water bottles, like those cobalt blue ones. These are best for long stem roses, lilies, and iris. The lighter the weight of the flower, the better, to prevent the bottle from tipping over.
6) Lanterns meant for tea light candles.
Feel free to comment with other ideas!
A lot of people don't know where to start when decorating a room. Here's a suggestion:
Step 1: Start by taking an object that inspires you. It could be a piece of fabric, a photo, or even a mundane object like a bowl. This provides the jumping off point for a color scheme. Take any one of the colors in your inspiration, and extend it to other things in the room. This creates repetition, a term used in the design world that basically means it creates a sense of cohesion. Ready to paint something? A wall, or maybe a piece of furniture?
Step 2: Just like everything else these days, there's an app for it. There are a handful of apps dedicated to matching your inspiration with actual pain colors. Among them: Behr ColorSmart, Glidden On The Go, and Benjamin Moore Color Capture. The premise is the same for all of them: hold something close to the lens of your iPhone camera, and the app matches it with its company's paint colors. You can fiddle around with them until you find the closest option to your original photo,* or something complementary to that color.
Step 3: Go to your paint or hardware store, already knowing which color you intend to buy. No need to fuss around with paint chips. Get in and get out.
*Note, however, that colors on your iPhone screen might differ a bit from actual, dried paint. Make sure your brightness level (found on Settings) is at its highest to ensure the most accurate representation possible.
You can also use the colors that you "favorite" on the apps to reference when buying fabric, bedding, curtains, furniture, accessories, you name it.
If you're a typical young-ish professional living in a city, you probably don't have a big kitchen. And you also probably drink. What do you do when there are bottles to hoard and glasses to dry?
You get one of these Oenophilia under-cabinet wine racks:
Everyone knows the frustration of not having a paper towel accessible when you need it most. And when you're trying to conserve limited counter space, there aren't many options. So go get one of these:
If you're low on cabinet space, or if you're an organizational nerd, get a cabinet door spice rack, like this:
This is super convenient to hold plastic bags, and it's totally hidden in the back of the kitchen:
There's a ton of great products out there; I can only personally advise these from experience!
How to Display Your Photos as Fine ArtRead More
Too much white can feel very sterile. It can also be boring. If people use "vanilla" as an adjective for your decor, it's not a compliment. Alas, you came to me. I have an easy-to-follow prescription for making white on white work.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the shabby chic, bleached, knotty wood look. I prefer my whites with more shine. Lacquer, high-gloss paint, and white glass are great examples of shiny white. The key is to compliment shiny (cold) pieces with textural (warm) accents.
For many people who rent, painting walls is simply not an option. In my situation, where the walls are highly textured, it would simply be too difficult. If you have the ability to paint your walls, but are too afraid of experimenting with color, try this:
Using a stencil, stripe pattern, or ombre effect, take the same shade of white, but apply different gloss levels. Start with flat white paint, then do stripes or stencil pattern in a higher-gloss finish of that same shade of white. Painting stripes is easy if you follow this guide.
But, which shade of white paint, you ask? Stay away from cream. Blah. Go as bright as possible; it keeps the energy lively instead of dull.
For a crisp, cooler white, try Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace (OC-65) or Distant Gray (OC-68). For something a tad on the warmer side, try Benjamin Moore White Opulence (OC-69) or Mountain Peak White (OC-121). Just don't do anything resembling cream or, worse, beige.
Experiment with texture! Put a white fluffy pillow on a lucite chair on a cow hide rug. Place some ceramic vases on a grasscloth table runner on a white kitchen table. Put a finely-embroidered pillow on a tough, leather sofa. Flank it with breezy white curtains (presumably framing a window!). Then add some beautiful hydrangeas, peonies, or lilies.
And, lastly, top it all off with a white dog or cat. It'll add a certain je ne sais quoi.
Thanks to the American Pop Art Movement, textual, literal items have entered the realm of acceptable decor. Humor is chic; campiness is no longer anything to scoff at. I strongly believe the purpose of decor is to make one smile when entering the home.
A few months ago, I came across a needlepoint pillow at the Jonathan Adler store. It wasn't the most typically aesthetically pleasing item, per se. It was a quote popularized by Kate Moss, who said, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." In my opinion, showcasing such a ridiculous (/true) statement in a home is a great idea. The pillow is funny; but it serves a utilitarian purpose, reminding oneself to cool it on the ice cream. The colors in this pillow match the general color scheme in my home, so I wrote off the $116 as an investment in aesthetics. Yes, for my budget, the pillow is totally overpriced. But it makes me happy, so that's all that matters. ...Right?
The trick to making humor fit into your design aesthetic is balancing it with actual, serious pieces in a cohesive way. If you have a statement painting on the wall, place a plant, lamp, or end table in the vicinity. This way, the statement isn't awkwardly trying to hold it's own. With a pillow, try to surround it with similar or complementary colors, showcasing it in an aesthetically purposeful way. The key is to take text, which is visually neutral, and put pretty stuff around it. It's kind of like surrounding yourself with pretty friends. It does't matter if you're good looking, because the people around you lend your looks credibility. Superficial? Yes. That's what design is.
Did you just bring home a kitty? First, take a moment of silence to honor the pristine furniture that once was. Now, face reality: cats have a biological need to sink their claws into things. Upholstered furniture, rugs, bedding, pillows, curtains, and human casualties stand no chance. You can be like grandma, circa 1972 and cover your stuff with vinyl. Or, you can cover your cat's claws with "Kitty Caps." They are a set of vinyl-resin caps that glue onto each of your cat's claws. Schedule in a "pedicure" and have a professional put them on; you'll be stress-free for at least a couple months. Approximate total cost: $30.00. Well worth it.
Buying furniture can be daunting. Stick to my formula, and it can be less overwhelming.
When out in a store, start with what pleases your eyes. "That gray couch has nice lines." Go to the couch, and check the price. If you can afford it, take a seat. Put your arms up, tilt your head back, and curl up as you would at home. How does your tush feel? Your back? Can you fall asleep on this thing? So far, so good? Then, examine the material. If you eat or drink in your living room, evaluate the clean-up factor. I tend to eat on my couch, so, even though I love the look of a sleek, white sofa, I went with a chocolate brown to mask possible stains.
These are some factors to consider in couch material:
Foods--pastas, noodles, anything that can slip off a fork. Tomato sauce will land on the couch. Soy sauce. Oil. Sugar.
Liquids--red wine isn't the only thing to be afraid of. Basically any drink can affect your couch's surface.
Foot traffic--Is this the place you'll always sit when you get home? What about guests? Not everyone is squeaky-clean. If you walk in after a day on a hike or in the rain, you might be bringing some gross stuff in.
Window factor--If the couch will be in front of a window that you keep open, street dust can settle on it. Or, sunlight can fade the fabric.
Pets--This is one of the most obvious factors in buying furniture. If your pet sheds, try to get a couch in a similar color to its fur. You can only clean so much. With dogs, keep in mind the fact that they inevitably track in dirt from the yard or street. Because of that, I wouldn't recommend getting anything in a light color. Cats are a whole other story. They tend to love upholstered furniture. My cat, Sushi, claimed my couch with her claws. I tried everything short of declawing, but nothing stopped her tearing up the tweed fabric. According to many, cats don't like microsuede. If you have a cat, that would be your best bet.
Slipcover--A great option for thorough cleaning is to buy a slipcovered sofa. Many on the market are atrocious; but there are some acceptable ones! I recommend Ikea's Karlstad for the budget shopper. Be warned, however, it isn't comfy enough for cuddling!