Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Poor Man's Wallpaper

Stencils used to make me think of grapevines on grubby kitchen walls. But when I wanted to dress up my entryway, wallpaper was out of the question (out of the budget and out of the rules). So I went hunting. And I began to realize that stencils are one of God's greatest gifts to anyone with big taste and a little budget. Here is what I came up with using a $30 stencil and some leftover paint:


There is an updated world of beautiful stencils for all of us who love the drama of crisp contrasts and cool patterns. One of my favorite sources is Sunny's Goodtime Paints:



Another great one is Royal Design Studios:


And then there is always the good old masking tape and ruler for an unbeatable stripe.


Photo credits: 1.Anne-Marie Maginnis 2-3. Sunny's Goodtime Paint 4. via Design Sponge 5. Domino Magazine 6. Miles Redd

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Paint Paradox Resolved

Everyone decorating on a budget knows that paint is your best friend. It's touted as the single most dramatic way to change the feel of a room, and all for the cost of a can of paint. Or two cans of paint.....or three.... depending on how many colors you have to go through to finally hit the right shade. Picking a paint color is one of the more stressful experiences in my life. I have repainted my bathroom four times trying to get it right, which is something I will never live down and vow I will never live over. The only alternatives seem to be spending more on samples than the actual paint - or living with a color that's not quite right.

Well, that job just got a lot easier. Last week at the Barnes & Noble I noticed a small book called House Beautiful Colors for Your Home - 300 Designer Favorites.

At that moment I felt like there was a light streaming down from heaven and angels singing Halleluiah. I know from working for a designer that there are some colors that just work. Once you find these winners you don't let them go. So to have 300 tried and true colors from top designers, with a sample swatch of every color, and pictures of rooms done in these colors is a gold mine. And the book is the same price as one sample can of paint:)

Here are some rooms I've long loved and now know the secret paint ingredients:

Ruthie Sommers Sitting Room
Walls in Benjamin Moore Iceberg 2122-50

Tom Scheerer Dining room
Walls in Benjamin Moore Chocolate Candy Brown 2107-10
Trim in Benjamin Moore Atrium White

Thomas Jayne Loft
Benjamin Moore Blue Belle 782
Benjamin Moore Smashing Pink 1303

And that devil of a color to get right - white!

Barbara Westbrook Bathroom
Donald Kaufman Color Collection DKC-5

Picture credits: All House Beautiful

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Discovering Your Design Style - You May Be In For A Surprise

Have you ever stood in front of a unique flea market find, biting your nail in agonized indecision, wondering if this piece is just the fabulous touch your room needs - or if it will end up collecting dust in the attic? Knowing your design style simplifies your life. It's like deciding to build your wardrobe around black or navy - when you go shopping you know what to look for and what to ignore.

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Most of us have a vague idea of what we want for our homes, and we don't think twice about it. Some of us love red, some of us hate dark wood, some of us would die of boredom if we lived in an all white house. Or so we think.

Several years ago I began subscribing to a couple of interior design magazines. Every now and again I'd turn the page and be faced with an image of heaven. It was a room that took my breath away. We've all had that feeling, when we see a room that makes us want to step inside the picture and live there. I started keeping pictures of those rooms, so that when I had a house I could remember them. And then I started noticing something very strange.....all those rooms were cream and white. And I HATED white. Or so I thought.


That's when I realized that what I thought I liked and what I actually liked were totally unrelated. It was a terrifying realization.

I would have told you I liked very traditional aesthetic, and rooms saturated with color (preferably red and yellow). The look I actually like is French eclectic hits the seaside, lots of white with accents of color (black, pinks and reds).




The point of this story is not to undermine your confidence in your taste! You can pinpoint your own design style in a couple of minutes. My friend Leah who writes for Apartmenttherapy put me on to a great style quiz at Sproost. It's wonderful for a quick diagnostic. Even if you're very attuned to your likes and dislikes, you're bound for some fun surprises. And for a really fascinating experiment - if you're married, have your better half take the quiz too. It's intriguing to discover where your tastes overlap, and where they diverge. And it's a wonderful opportunity to start fashioning a house that you both feel at home in.

Photo credits: 1. The White House Daylesford 2. Country Living 3. Miles Redd 4. Coastal Living via Sproost 5. Jed Johnson 6. Tom Scheerer

Friday, June 5, 2009

Opening The Door

Interior design begins from the moment you open the front door. So I thought I'd write my inaugural post on doors.

To me, a house with a plain door seems like an outfit without jewelry. It doesn't offend, but a great door can give the whole house personality. It's an opportunity to add color, sparkle, even whimsy.

By far the easiest way to give your door distinction is by painting it. Ideally something really great like the one above. For a more traditional setting some good colors are pear green, canary yellow or sky blue. If you're willing to be daring you could try lime, orange, or even pink.


Good hardware will add polish to your door. Something with sparkle will take years off the facade of your home. On a practical note, the knocker and the knob should be in the same finish.


The door to your house can act like a teaser, it piques your guests' curiosity about what's inside. So ideally, the style and color of your door will transition smoothly into the colors and style inside your home.


And there's no need to stop there - you can paint the doors inside your home too! It's a great way to add color to a room when you don't want to go all out and paint the walls. It also gives you the freedom to use stronger paint colors since you're doing just a small patch of color.


Photographs: 1. Kelly Wearstler's Modern Glamour 2. Uppercase via Apartmenttherapy 3. via Foxgloves, Fabric & Folly 4. Domino Magazine 5. Kelly Wearstler's Modern Glamour 6. Domino Magazine