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Design Secrets Everyone Should Know

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

As an interior designer, there are common mistakes and misconceptions I see repeatedly with clients -and consumers in general. Since I am here to make the world a more beautiful place, I would like to share some tips that are easy to implement.

1) Yes you can MIX FINISHES within a room or home! Metal finishes on furniture, hardware or faucets such as copper, chrome, stainless steel, bronze, rose gold, matte black, burnished bronze, brass, etc. do not have to match. Also wood finishes and species can be mixed. Don't get so caught up with matching every single item as it can become redundant and boring. With that said, I would say certain finishes just look wrong together like rose gold and antique bronze. Think of the finishes as actual colors. Ask yourself, do these colors look nice together? Is this confusing to the eye? Instead of asking "Am I allowed to do this'? Yes you are. The simple answer: If it looks good, do it. If it looks bad, don't. As with any successful design, some repetition is needed, but you need variety too. Mix tips: Use both matte and shiny finishes. Limit your mixing to three finishes per room.

2) Try to include something UNIQUE AND UNPREDICTABLE from another style or era into your decor so your home does not end up looking like a showroom. After spending many years working as a visual merchandiser and selling furniture out of a gallery, I can really appreciate mixing it up more. To get that 'curated' look, as many designers have mastered, try purchasing an interesting accessory or artwork while traveling overseas. As long as it has something in common with your current style or color scheme, buy it. Choose one really special item over a bunch of mediocre items. Think quality, not quantity. Alternately, you can go to 1st dibs, eBay, etsy, etc and find unique items from every style and era.

3) Buy ORIGINAL ART! As tempting as the low prices are at blockbuster furniture stores for framed reproduction art, try and limit these to your non-featured rooms. Even if your budget does not allow for bidding on an original Picasso, there are many art galleries featuring local, undiscovered artists that are budget friendly. Often, they will allow you to take a piece on approval, or will even create a custom version with the colors you like in the size you need. This will also ensure that the artist gets most of the profit from the sale and can survive and evolve in their craft. Whether your budget is $500 or $5 million, just make sure you love it. If you live in LA, SF or NY there is an abundance of art options for you.

4) MIX SHAPES within a room. Sometimes people think they have to keep repeating an idea forever, such as everything being square or round because there is a curved wall or something. More often than not, it looks best to mix round, square and organic shaped items within a room. Just like music, some repetition is good, but too much repetition does sound like a broken record after awhile. Repetition with a few well timed variations is the key.

5) SMALL ROOMS need not have white walls. Often, the opposite is true. You can create a very cozy vibe by going ultra dark or using lush colors like emerald green, magenta or deep blue. People often are drawn to and feel comforted by the rich colors because you notice the color instead of the size of the room. It's about distracting the eye from the room's flaws and highlighting something beautiful. Remember, it's only paint. Also, try wallpaper for fun!

6) BOOKS AND MAGAZINES ARE ACCESSORIES TOO! Remember, you can use attractive art or travel books as coffee table accessories. Make sure they have the same color/style you are trying to achieve in the room.

Always vary your magazine and book stacks on bookcases to create a more interesting effect. Small vertical stacks mixed with some horizontal works well. Keep similar size books and topics together. Only use attractive books and magazines that look good from every angle. (I always hide damaged, personal or unattractive books behind closed doors). Tip: If you cannot find the right color books that go with your theme, use black and white, it always looks classy.

7) TAKE WHAT YOU LIKE AND LEAVE THE REST! You don't have to save everything you have ever bought or received as a gift. Just like getting rid of old clothes every so often, it's good to part with things that are not working anymore. It's very easy to keep collecting and hoarding items until you have too many things in each room. Ask yourself 'Do I still love this?' 'Does it inspire or make me feel good ?' 'Would this look better somewhere else?' 'Do I know anyone who would appreciate this more than I am?' Then KEEP it, GIVE it, MOVE it or LOSE it, accordingly. Sometimes relocating an item can change the whole dynamic of a room. A tip for deciding if something belongs in a room or not, take photos of each room and review them on your computer. It is easier to judge by looking at a photo because you are more objective and critical of photos than in person.

If you still need help turning your creative vision into reality, feel free to contact me.

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