Design Tips

Designer Toby Sneider transformed a client’s little-used full bath into a vibrant powder room.
Designer Toby Sneider transformed a client’s little-used full bath into a vibrant powder room.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why Hire a Designer?

Some people shrug off the need for an interior designer by reasoning, “Why should I hire someone when I already know what I like?”

But a designer can do much more than choose fabrics and furniture that reflect your taste. He or she can look dispassionately at your home and suggest what’s out of proportion, which pieces can be upgraded, what colors aren’t harmonious, what should go and what should stay. In their mind’s eye, they can picture a more balanced, less cluttered room and then achieve that look.

Homeowners often are emotionally attached to their surroundings. They can’t see that a beloved sideboard is out of scale with a room’s size. They can’t recognize that the color scheme is too busy. And they don’t understand that countless framed family pictures atop the piano is overkill.

A designer has no such emotional investment and can look at rooms coolly and objectively. Their judgment isn’t clouded by sentiment or emotion.

Others think they can’t afford an interior designer. Although internationally known designers are indeed expensive, there are several fine designers within financial reach, and not all demand exclusively large projects. Many will take on a single room. Be frank with a designer about your budget, but also know that you should buy the best you can afford. There’s no substitute for quality.

Some people can’t afford not to hire a designer. A designer can save you from making costly mistakes. How many times have you (or someone you know) bought a sofa that was too long, a cabinet that’s taller than your ceilings, or a chandelier that hangs so low you bump your head on it?

Good designers don’t make those kinds of mistakes because they always measure before any fabric, furniture, or lighting is purchased.

Designers can save you money, but they can also save you time. They have a network of reliable painters, contractors, and electricians they trust because they’ve worked with them before. They know whom to contact so you don’t have to risk hiring incompetent people. They will also supervise those workers, leaving you to enjoy your vacation time with more pleasant activities.

Some homeowners are reluctant to hire a designer because they think they’ll lose control over their surroundings and have to submit to something they won’t like. However, designers think of the client relationship as a partnership. They want your input and they want you to be happy with the result.

Few designers desire carte blanche; they aim to reflect the client’s taste, but their job is also to guide, to edit, and to gently steer clients out of their comfort zone. Sometimes a designer will coax a hesitant client into trying a new style that they end up loving.

Remember that designers are professionals. Dealing with challenges and knowing how to overcome them is part and parcel of what they do. You wouldn’t hire an amateur to repair your car or fix an electrical problem, so why would you entrust anyone but an expert to take charge of your décor?

Gossamer curtains, pale colors and greenery whisper “spring.” Clarke + Clarke Natura Sheers, Duralee
Gossamer curtains, pale colors and greenery whisper “spring.” Clarke + Clarke Natura Sheers, Duralee

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Refresh & Rejuvenate for Spring

Seasons change outside, so there’s no reason that interiors can’t also change with the season – and it doesn’t require a major style overhaul or big expense. Like wardrobes, our décor can go into winter storage and brought out again when the weather turns cool. Here are some suggestions on how to spring into action with your décor:

Take down heavy curtains that seemed appropriate for winter and install draperies with a lightweight fabric, like muslin, sailcloth cotton, or a silk-linen blend.

Those plump velvet pillows that were so comfy during the colder months can be replaced by softer colors and fabrics. They’ll also give your sofa a fresh, invigorated look.

Bring the outdoors in by displaying fresh flowers or cutting branches from a forsythia bush. And don’t forget that the vase is part of the arrangement, too. Make sure that the scale of the vase mirrors the height of the flower arrangement.

Sure, tulips and daffodils shout spring, but experiment with something less predictable, such as ranunculus, a long-lasting cut flower with delicate, tightly clustered petals and lacy leaves.

Add a rippling, soothing fountain to the indoors. The sensation of hearing gently running water is often more comforting than calming music.

Don’t forget about the scent of a room. Spice-, maple-, and coffee-scented candles are terrific for the colder months, but spring and summer cry out for something light and fresh. Lemon-verbena or orange-vanilla are good choices, but steer away from those cloying floral scents that can have the same effect of being in the same room with a person doused with too much fragrance. Subtlety is the best policy.

A fine-quality Oriental rug in jewel tones may have been the perfect touch for autumn and winter, but roll it up for spring and display a cotton-wool blend rug in quiet pastels or neutrals. Or go bold and choose something with turquoise or sunshiny yellow accents.

Change the art arrangement in a room, or add a whimsical painting or print to brighten the space.

Painting a room in a lighter color can change the whole ambiance of a space. But if repainting the entire room isn’t an option, paint only the woodwork or mantel, or add some colorful accessories to the room. Sage green or celadon are good choices to reflect spring, but they’re also expected. Instead, try dove gray, a muddy soft blue, creamy pale lemon, or faint lavender.

Painting only the ceiling in a light color can “open” up a room so it feels larger and more airy.

Changing your décor for spring can also be applied to china, glassware, and other accessories. Put the heavier, more formal pieces away and usher in spring and summer with less fussy dishes and glasses.

Don’t neglect lighting. For a less glaring and more filtered atmosphere, try soft-pink bulbs, or line the inside of shades with cream or pale pink paper to make the light glowing, not glaring.

Let some fresh air in! Nothing refreshes a room more than open windows, with gauzy curtains gently billowing in the breeze.

spring, decorating, soft colors, fountain, redecorate, lightweight fabrics, lighting, curtains

Start with a concept and stick to it.
Start with a concept and stick to it.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Casual Conversation

Designer Jennifer Taylor’s vision when creating this unique space was one of a relaxed nature, using only materials of a casual tone. While the end result here was a laid-back meeting space sure to keep the conversation lasting for hours, these tips from Jennifer are sure to keep you on track when making any design decision, regardless of the project.

START WITH A CONCEPT AND STICK TO IT. If you want to make a strong statement, speak one language. It’s OK to mix colors, textures, and materials, but be clear about what you want your room to say. If you’re trying to create a casual atmosphere, know your materials and leave the cut crystal in the cupboard.

SELECT THE NICEST QUALITY TEXTILES YOUR BUDGET WILL ALLOW. Beautiful area rugs, fabrics, and decorative trims are a feast for the senses. Dramatic colors and textures can delight and excite us. Luxurious silks and soft velvets can soothe and entice us. Patterns create movement; solids and stripes create a sense of order. The sense of touch is also gratified. Money spent on quality textiles is never wasted. 

CLASSIC DOES NOT HAVE TO MEAN BORING. Hang a modern painting over the Louis XV console. Add a punch of color in a neutral room. Purchase your larger pieces in classic shapes, then add some unexpected pillows and accessories, or a graphic piece of art. Add a dramatic chandelier to almost any space and watch it come alive. Play with scale. Have a little fun!

SELECT WHAT YOU LOVE. Be true to your own taste and fearlessly select what makes your heart skip a beat. Don't worry about current trends if they don’t really appeal to you.

IT’S YOUR HOME. After all the effort you put into feathering your nest, don't forget to kick back and enjoy it! 

The following showrooms shared their products in this vignette: Henredon Interior Design Showroom, Baker Furniture, The Ghiordes Knot, and Duralee.

- Jennifer Taylor, Jennifer Taylor Studio

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