POSTS BY Brian Patrick Flynn

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Most interior designers have that one project that started it all. Some have glamorous stories such as: decorating a rich neighbor’s pool house, remodeling a jet-setter’s pied-a-terre in Paris, and/or scouring the globe for a rich collector’s much-desired rare finds. Mine involved stealing cat-pee-covered country-style side tables from curbs in Tallahassee. Of course, by the time I sanded them with the roughest grit possible, hand-painted them canary yellow, then gave them a glossy finish with spray lacquer, they looked amazing. Am I bitter? No. In fact, I look forward to the hype of back to school this-and-that to see what I can find that’s affordable for champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget students. As the back-to-school season is in full effect, I scoured the interwebbies to find some excellent pieces to make humdrum study spaces a bit more fun. From a designer pen to a do-it-yourself organizer, here are five great pieces for your own study space which won’t break the bank but possibly look like they did. And you won’t even have to deal with cat pee, such a deal!
Russel and Hazel FoldersWhat’s exciting about opening a 3″ ring binder packed with reports and homework assignments? Absolutely nothing. Enter Russell + Hazel. Their translucent Yummy Folder Set sports graphic delectables sure to distract students from the grueling academic tasks at hand, at least for a moment, before hitting the books.

Jonathan Adler Chevron Ink Pens - HGTV design blog

Leave it to Jonathan Adler to make something as uninteresting as a basic pen insanely fun. His Chevron ink pens are as chic as any of his furniture pieces, art or lighting. Considering you can’t scribble notes or write a thank you letter with a chair or a chandelier, these writing utensils are the perfect justification for those who cannot afford big ticket Jonathan Adler items to splurge on his desktop products.

White Student Desk

Quite a few major retail chains have made a killing selling their versions of the basic parsons desk. Well, since the look is super basic and they all pretty much look the same, what’s the sense in shelling out $300 to $500 bucks when Overstock has something just as great for only $135.99? Well, of course, if you’re the type that enjoys throwing money away for absolutely no reason, I’m sure that’s fine. But since 99% of students are two bags of Ramen noodles away from starvation, I’m sure saving an extra $164.01 is rather helpful.
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A few months ago when I was strolling through design centers in New York and in Atlanta, I was blown away by the selection of high-end looking indoor/outdoor fabrics and rugs which sacrifice neither style nor substance. While many had price tags that rival the cost of my own home’s kitchen renovation, some were quite reasonable. Fast forward four months, and I now own many of them and actually sneak outside (albeit only for a short 13 minutes) to use them. You see, summertime makes me wanna punch the sun in the face. Being from Florida, all this sweaty season makes me think of is intense humidity, puffy hair and daily 3:00pm splash-’n-dash thunderstorms. Fortunately, I’ve found that some summertastic indoor/outdoor decor that has the power to de-Scrooge me and make me more like a temporary outdoorsy Tiny Tim. So before you run outside and see your follicles start mushroom-clouding, take a look at some of these awesome indoor/outdoor, mildew-resistant products which will make the intense summer a little more bearable. Well, aesthetically-speaking, that is. Come to think of it, maybe the sun needs a makeover. Can large masses of solar-system sustaining energy be on HGTV or does that propose a conflict? Ha!

Sunbrella Velveteen

Velvet you can use outside. Um, like, thank you Sunbrella! Velveteen comes in an assortment of colors and feels amazing to lounge on. Also an excellent idea to use it indoors if you want a glamorous look but have not-so-glamorous, tantrum-throwing little ones who often spill sippy cups on your upholstery.

Outdoor Cabana Trim

Donghia has taken indoor/outdoor upholstery detail to the next level. Their cabana line includes tassles and trim to add that extra layer of designer touch to your outdoor draperies or furniture.

Trina Turk Outdoor Fabric

Sure, all us designers have known about Trina Turk’s line of indoor/outdoor fabric for Schumacher for a few years now, but the new color ways including vivid pinks and greens introduce a fresh palette with that classic Palm Springs touch she brings to everything she designs.
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A few days ago, while rafting down the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, I thought to myself, “Wow, pool and beach stuff is damn ugly.” I guess I’d never really thought about it before, since I’m usually focused on having something called fun while enjoying the summer sun. Plus, there’s really no space plan for me to critique or fine tune when the space I’m staring at is a large blue body of water and infinite sky. “Shooting the Hooch” isn’t as fast paced and rowdy a journey as the Alan Jackson song makes it out to be, so after roughly three hours staring at ugly blue rubber tubes, towels sporting slogans like “Life’s A Beach” and primary colored beach balls, I figured I’d search for fun poolside stuff that’s as pleasant to look at as it is to use.

As it turns out, there are some purdy upgrades out there to give your pool (or lakeside) sun soaking that designer touch without breaking the bank. From towels to tables, beach balls to beach blankets, here’s an assortment of good lookin’ summer fun accessories available online. So the next time you are floating in the pool on a styrofoam lounge blazoned with a beer logo or eating summery snacks on a jagged rock, just remember that I tried to help, and you didn’t listen. Speaking of not listening, you know what I wish I would have listened to? The weather report before deciding to go rafting. Two words: Afternoon thunderstorms.

Lacoste‘s cotton “Court” towels from Macy’s sport the graphic lines of a tennis court and come in bold colors such as kelly green, red and orange. Once folded up, they look just as good with that timeless alligator emblem. Or is it a crocodile? Dammit, I always mix those up.

Nautical Striped Beach Ball

Ditch the juvenile red, blue or yellow beach ball for this doozie, the Bud Beach Ball Nautical Stripe Inflatable from CSN Stores. It’s got a sophisticated navy/white color scheme with a bold graphic anchor front and center. The swim ring is sweet, too.
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You know that I-apologize-if-I-fall-asleep-mid-sentence feeling you get from having pushed yourself too hard, then hit a wall? Well, how about hopping into a van with 11 other people at 4:45am in NYC to oversee four full room remodels 50 miles away in New Jersey, dealing with exhausted carpenters who are working out in the freezing rain until the sun goes down, then not stepping foot off the property until 9:15pm only to drive an hour back to Manhattan to do it all again the next day? Needless to say, episode three of HGTV Design Star was a tough one; however, since the owners of both homes loved their new spaces so much, it was totally worth it.

During the filming, my co-producer who is also one of my favorite human beings on earth, Alyssa Hastrich, and I stuck to the Callegaris house with Doug Hines, Mark Diaz, Leslie Ezelle, Kevin Grace and Kellie Clements. Between the full basement downstairs and wall cladding upstairs, it felt like a full house renovation. Luckily, we were able to stroll up the street to Christina Scano’s place to check on progress at the end of the day. With so much going on, we decided I’d take iPhone shots during the process to remember just exactly how much labor went into the enormous overhaul of all four spaces. Take a look at some of the in-process stuff you didn’t see on TV, then contemplate how small your one-wall paint project this weekend seems in comparison. Ha!

Leslie, Kevin and Kellie's Basement Before

BEFORE: Once Leslie, Kevin and Kellie got started painting the walls, all I could focus on was how much longer it would take them to do everything with the huge obstacles they’d have to work around: boxes of books and toys, the enormous treadmill, and then ripping up the 1980′s mauve carpet.

Kellie Leslie and Kevin

AFTER: If you’re planning to replace the floor in your own space and paint the walls, knocking out the paint first while the old floor is down is a wise idea. It allows you to spill and drip as needed with no worry since the floor will soon be ripped out completely. The trio got rather lucky with their lime green wall choice. Colors this saturated pretty much always require a tinted primer. Somehow, the puddy color of their walls kinda stepped it up and worked as one. Happy accident? I think so.

Mark and Doug's Living Room Before

BEFORE: Something I found super useful in episode three was the content of Doug’s camera challenge about removing wall-to-wall carpet. That was a fantastic tip. Did you know that cutting carpet into strips two-foot strips, then removing it piece-by-piece is the way to go? I sure as hell wish I would have known that four years ago when I, along with friends, carried a 12X14 roll of beige nastiness down a stairwell.

Mark and Doug

AFTER: Something not discussed on the show was how well Doug and Mark’s choice of flooring coordinated with the tones of the fireplace stone. Those same reddish-brown tones seen in the rustic masonry are picked up beautifully in the tones of the wood.

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Have you ever thought about what it’s like to actually build eleven 12X15 spaces, furnish them with transformable pieces which can be further enhanced decoratively with raw food and/or restaurant supply items, then break them all down in just a few days? I hadn’t before working the shoot for episode 2 of HGTV Design Star — the infamous White Box Challenge. But from the looks of anticipated exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm on my co-design producers, Sam and Shannon’s, faces, it was obviously not the most fun task.

Roughly two weeks before filming episode 2, the three of us had to conceptualize exactly how big each white box should be, choose pieces that could be repurposed for different room functions, assemble those pieces and paint them all white to ensure the designers all had level playing fields. When I say the three of us assembled all the furniture, I really mean Shannon and Sam, since I hopped on a plane for an HGTV event in Orlando only two hours into assembly. Saved by the bell? I’d say so.

White Box  Challenge Floorplan

White Box Challenge Elevated Floorplan

In addition to the white box build-outs, we also did a mock-shopping day where we thought of all the possible things designers might consider using from a restaurant supply store as decoration, then ensured that there was enough stock for the eleven designers to choose from. Now take a look at what goes into creating the White Box Challenge, then take time next season to think about the tired souls behind the scenes who were kicked off before the challenge even started.

White Box Challeng Waterbottle Chase

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Graffiti. I like it. I like it a lot. When the location for the White Box Challenge was locked in for episode two of HGTV Design Star, I was happier than a snippy Pomeranian during a FedEx delivery. Why? 5 Pointz, that’s why. Located in Long Island City, it’s often referred to as a New York “Graffiti Mecca” where spray paint artists from all over the world come to create urban works of art on the premises of a 200,000 sq. ft building.

Contestants Outside Building - Running into White Room

Its conception was always for a good purpose; 5 Pointz was created as a formal place for aerosol artists to showcase their talents instead of vandalizing public spaces. As the official location for season six’s White Box Challenge, it was the perfect juxtaposition to the stark white drywall rectangles the designers would have to bring to life. In the show, this threw the contestants for a loop. Here, they show up at this gritty, colorful setting, only to learn this is, in fact, the dreaded White Box Challenge.

Five Pointz Graffiti Art

Nestled between industrial buildings and elevated train tracks, 5 Pointz could easily have been a producer’s worst nightmare. Why? Deliveries from trucks with loud beeps mixed with constant stops and starts from train cars which shake the buildings is insanely disruptive after the director yells, “quiet on the set!” Miraculously, these city sounds proved to be a non issue. (Guess who once shot an entire makeover in a neighborhood nestled between a field of cows and a busy international airport? Yep, me. But I tend not to go into detail about mistakes I made at age 28, okay?)
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So I briefly moved from Atlanta to New York City after being asked to join the production team as a design producer for season six of HGTV Design Star. Totally awesome opening sentence, right? I know! FYI, just in case this new job seems totally random, I’ve been producing home makeover TV shows for about eight years, sometimes also hosting them, while working on private homes for clients on nights and weekends. In other words, this wasn’t my first time at the TV decorating rodeo. Was it my first time taking a subway to said metaphorical rodeo? Yes. The B and the D Line to be exact.

Columbus Circle

After some time up-close-and-personal working on the challenges and location scouts of HGTV’s hit show, I can tell you first-hand that it’s one of the fastest-paced, most challenging design shows on TV. So much that sleep is pretty much a luxury for producers, crew members and contestant designers. I’m not complaining. The entire experience was awesome. Let’s talk about episode one.

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Aside from lying, cheating, being unkind, violence, excess noise and the color of egg yolks, there’s nothing I detest more than those bought-on-sale-out-in-front-of-the-supermarket, made-to-look-old-but-really-brand-new, matchy-matchy patio sets. In fact, I’ll tailgate on plastic coolers before I’ll pop a squat on those posers. NOTE: I don’t do sports. Where the hell am I going with this, and why all the ranting? Well, a few weeks ago, my team and I gave a summery makeover to a lackluster patio deckspace in Atlanta. The patio and deck were quite beautiful; the patio furniture was another story. Our mission? To de-matchy-matchy the run-of-the-mill patio set, then set it up for summer entertaining… all in a single afternoon.

In order to make this happen, we stuck with three locations: BJ’s Membership Club, a discount fabric store and a flea market. This unexpected combination works quite well, and let me tell you why: one-stop-shopping and bang-for-your-buck. Membership and wholesale clubs have just about every brand new, buy-it-in-bulk thing you could need under one roof times twenty; flea markets have uber-affordable, that’s-so-cool-where-did-you-find-it type stuff with a one-of-a-kind designer touch. By hitting up discount fabric stores, you’re certain to find excellent outdoor fabric on clearance. Wanna put a new, affordable spin on your own matchy-matchy patio set without an entire weekend of laborious do-it-yourselfing? Then check out my ideas. Perhaps some of them are right up your deck or patio’s alley. Wait, decks and patios can’t have alleys, can they? Oh well, you get the point.

Here’s what the deck looked like after my team whipped it into shape:

Brian Patrick Flynn - After Patio

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Decking out your first apartment or dorm room—albeit in college or after graduation—is one part thrilling and all parts stressballish. While making something totally your own is one of the biggest joys in life, trying to fill a space stylishly and functionally on a ramen-noodles-and-tap-water budget can quickly take all the fun out of it. Hell, I’m living proof; my first apartment sure was purdy but since I spent every penny on making it look cool, all I could afford to do is eat in it and stare at the walls. Saltines topped with free packets of mustard scored from Burger King to be exact.

Ramen NoodlesTurn Your Temporary Digs into A HomeThe same goes for a teency-weency dorm room; filling a space functionally and decoratively costs a pretty penny and tons of not-so-pretty sweat equity. If it’s your first time at the rodeo of MyFirstPlaces, you’ll quickly notice how quick a run for Windex, a lampshade and new pillowcases results in a receipt with a $230 total. With students shelling out $165 for a single textbook and recent graduates dropping $400 for a decent interview outfit, the money pit gets deeper and deeper; saving is a must. Sure, we all know about the magical wonders of flea markets in reference to keeping things original and on budget; however, there are some less-known tricks out there which may make putting that first place together a bit easier. For example: How do you dress up concrete walls? How do you use 100 square feet of living space as a bedroom, living room and media area? What alternatives are there for people who love wallpaper and paint but can’t change their walls? Lucky for you, I’m out of college eight years now and have some my-first-apartment-life-experience to share with you. Unfortunately, the ramen noodle eating still goes on for a few years—but hey—there’s no reason your place shouldn’t look great while you scarf those noodles down!

Brian Patrick Flynn - Decals Dorms

Vinyl decals, have they been done to death? Yes, oh heavens yes. (So have posters tacked to walls with balls of putty. Save yourself with my post on buying art online.) Vinyl decals are an absolutely brilliant solution to dressing up a temporary space, especially those where painting is prohibited and color choices are dictated by an establishment. The key is staying away from the ones everybody’s seen two-hundred times: chandeliers, the Keep Calm And Carry On thing, and last but not least, overscale damask. SNORE. Decals like this robot from blik are fun and graphic; certain styles made for kid’s rooms are still cool enough for young adults. No DIY skills? No problem. All you need to put these babies up is a burnisher and a steady hand.

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A few months ago, I walked into my local art store to buy a paint pen and some Gesso but instead bought a $16 purple coffee mug instead. Why? The power of Pantone, that’s why. Ever since I was first turned on to the world’s leading authority on color, I’ve been fascinated by their forecasting of soon-to-be-seen-everywhere palettes. When I found out that they were manufacturing coffee mugs in many of their most popular colors, complete with the color number, I instantly had to have one…and I don’t even drink coffee.

Pantone Coffee Cups

This situation was heightened upon learning that Pantone actually has its own seven-floor, 59-room Pantone Hotel in Brussels, a magical place referred to as “where the principles of design meet the principles of color.” Every floor is dedicated to a different color: blue, green, orange, brown, red, violet and yellow. Of the seven tones, I would feel most happy sleeping on the orange level. But enough about me, let’s get back to the hotel. Designed by the Belgian interior designer Michel Penneman along with architect Olivier Hannaert, the property is unmistakably branded from its folding chairs to its get-around-town bicycles; however, it’s incredibly tasteful, striking definite balances between color, concept, shape and scale.

Pantone Hotel - Color - HGTV Design Happens

Whether you’re into ultra-white or borderline-nuclear orange, take a look at some of Pantone Hotel’s color-tastic interiors as well as some toned-down ways the same principles can be applied to residential spaces. And hey, if you can’t make it to Brussels, at least you can buy the coffee mug, right?

Pantone Hotel lobby

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While I totally think the world of my father and his slightly-off sense of humor, I absolutely loathe buying gifts for the man. And as I creep into mid-thirtysomething territory at warp speed, I start to think of what exactly I’d want if/when I have rugrats of my own. Sure, I work in the design industry, so it’s pretty much a sure thing I’m gonna want something decorative, personal and meant for my home; however, there’s a fine line between classic masculine and cliche dude styles. Beer steins and pool tables? No. Pinstripes and Milo Baughman-esque finishes? Oh, why yes, yes indeed, that sounds remarkably wonderful. If you’re struggling, trying to think of timeless home-related gifts for Dad, check out some of these great finds available online or through showrooms. Then, after that, toss those beer can koozies in the trash or set them on fire. Happy Father’s Day!

Boxsal Boombox and Boxsal Briefcase

If you ever thought picnics and Big Daddy mixed together just sounded kinda wrong, think again. Boxsal creates eco-conscious, disposable picnic sets that rock, literally. One of them, Urban Picnic, is a cardboard replica of an old-school boombox. The other, Office Escape, is a cardboard version of a classic leather briefcase. Both open up to reveal components essential to enjoying delicious bites outdoors.

Scotland Throw

Buck the velvet artwork of dogs playing poker and instead consider wrapping Dad in something classic. The Scotland Forever Throw available through Amazon.com is something that will keep any father warm and snugly as well as timelessly cool at the same time. Made of lambswool, it’s available in several colors and retails for $105.

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Last week I received a text from my LA-tastic friend Casey while on a business trip to South Beach which read “Have you ever seen Viceroy Miami? This place has your name written all over it.” I flat out lied to Casey in my response by saying, “Yeah, it’s my fave.” No, truth is I had not been to Viceroy Miami; however, I’d gone to Kelly Wearstler’s site to many times that it felt as though I’d been there in person. Come to think of it, I spend way too much time on her site, so much that I may eventually be considered a stalkerator (get it? decorator + stalker = stalkerator?). Casey was totally right though; from its unexpected use of materials, play on scale and proportion, and love-it-or-hate-it-I-don’t-care use of color, everything about Viceroy Miami is just my style.

But I will tell you where I have been: The Tides South Beach, another uber-amazing hotel that design superstar Wearstler created that manages to actually make beige look interesting, edgy and totally fresh. While both of these hotels are groundbreaking on so many levels, there ain’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’m ever gonna have a budget that large to reinvent beige or hang a school-bus-sized crystal chandelier over an indoor pool. But I will tell you what I do have a chance at: taking some of Kelly the Great’s ideas and adapting them for mere mortal decorators working with budgets more fit for the Motel 6. Take a look at some Wearstler-tastic eye candy and some realistic ways to take that same concept home. PS – Ms. Wearstler, I love you. - Stalkerator

Tortoise Shell Wall

One look into the restaurant at The Tides South Beach and you’ll instantly be drawn to the graphic, textural collection of tortoise shells adorning the wall above the banquettes. Well, I would very much like to have this, too. However, this works well in a restaurant with expansive, open space. In a home with 12-foot by 8-foot walls, notsomuch. But…there is a way to get the same effect on a much smaller level.
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Ghost World Movie
There’s a line in my all-time favorite black comedy, Ghost World, where an 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson says to her best friend, Thora Birch, “This reminds me of your little old lady phase.” She was referring to an eccentric non-conformist’s brief stint wearing clothes meant for women four times her age. The character didn’t care that others considered her style of dress lame, silly or little-old-lady; she thought it was cool and rocked it out.

What the hell does this have to do with a decorating blog? Well, I often feel that items deemed little-old-man or little-old-lady-ish are often the most awesome pieces simply awaiting creativity for a fresh new look. In fact, it’s what I search for first as I sift through the inventory at flea markets and thrift stores. Luckily, it’s usually the last thing others pay attention to. Speaking of paying attention, take a look at these pieces once deemed old but show no signs of their secret past thanks to some clever reinvention. You know what else is in the past and I hope it stays that way forever? The mauve and brass combo circa 1986. Good riddance!

Bentwood Chairs - Before and After

Turn Old Spinsters Into Bold Stylistas

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I cannot tell you how many clients open my initial consultation with this line: “We want the look and feel of the W Hotel in our home.” Since when did hotels become the leading source of inspiration for residential interiors? Whenever it was, I like that time; I like it a lot. I’ve stayed at or visited three W Hotels. While I appreciated the efficiency and locale of the Times Square location, the buffalo-ish stampede of tourists charging the sidewalks just outside the front doors made me wanna pop a Xanax (and I detest pills). As for the West Hollywood location, the perfect weather and genetically blessed guests soaking up the sun by the pool were uber-dreamy; however, it made me feel horrible for being pale and wanting to scarf down a cheeseburger.

W Hotel Atlanta Bedroom - Lounge

And then there’s superdecorator Thom Filicia‘s designs at the W Hotel Atlanta Buckhead, located in the city’s premiere shopping district. Uh-may-zing. The hotel’s milieu for both for service and aesthetics has been referred to as having (a) urban style merged with the city’s deep history and culture and (b) traditions of Southern hospitality. Taking a stroll through one of Thom’s masterful spaces while on your way to enjoying a cocktail in the lounge or checking into the Wonderful Room for a night or two is a perfect way to experience his work up-close-and-personal, plus walk away with some ideas. Here’s a gander at some of Thom’s clean and classic work in the down-and-dirty South.
Prepare to be Thom Filicia’d, Contemporary Southern-Style

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When I was 23, I spent the night in a horrible, it-rubs-the-lotion-on-its-skin-or-else-it-gets-the-hose-again type motel after visiting a college friend. From the sandpaper-ish sheets and sinister guests to the foil-wrapped-TV and smell of mold, everything about it left me scared to sleep anywhere besides an actual home. But Silence of the Lambs flashbacks vanished when, in my late twenties, I encountered the glorious joy known as business travel — the kind that involves gorgeous hotels paid for by the same nice people who issue paychecks. From stunning, big-money chains in Los Angeles to ultra-modern boutiques in Manhattan, I’ve luxuriated in the best of hotel design. However, since I dig fun over fancy, I recently found the mothership of let’s-just-have-a-darn-good-time lodging…Disney’s Pop Century Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. As a huge fan of all things retro, this Disney resort is a dream come true, one packed with gigantic, colorful nostalgia and shiny, happy people everywhere. A larger than life time warp journeying from the 1950′s through the 1990′s that will have you saying phrases like ‘remember when’ and explaining to your children the concept of cassettes and mixed tapes.

Disney Pop Century Resort – Sony Walkman + Pacman - HGTV Design Happens

So, what happens if you fall in love with the overall idea of something over the top but want to adapt it into your own home in a less-is-more manner? How do you take away big ideas from hotels, retail stores or theme parks, then make them liveable? I’m glad you asked! Take a look at some of these jaw-dropping inspiration images, then check out toned-down Aha! ideas certain to add artistic nostalgia without swallowing spaces entirely. Hey, if your significant other won’t let you have a nine-foot Sony Walkman to workout to in the backyard, maybe there’s a next best thing that makes for a better use of space…and won’t scare away the neighbors.

Click Here for the Big Idea

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A while ago, I went to Epcot for an HGTV stage presentation assignment. While on stage, I decided to take a poll from the design-savvy guests on various topics including: color, professional lawn care, slipcovers, sofa pricing and wallpaper. At first, people were hesitant to speak up, especially since the crowds were un-small and my Alpha dog, chop-chop, let’s-get-to-the-point personality can be kinda intimidating. While certain topics such as slipcovers and lawn care warranted less interest from the crowd, color doubled both as a design enthusiast’s punching bag and designer MVP. After six presentations over three days, here are the three hues unanimously agreed on as the most beloved for interiors: gray, blue-gray and languid blues. Take a look through these House Beautiful images to see how these tones work in different rooms of the house. Thank the heavens they didn’t agree on beige. If that were the case, this entire post may never have existed.

HGTV Design Happens - Designer Albert Hadley - House Beautiful

Designer Albert Hadley - House Beautiful

The Big Three

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When I initially meet with new clients, I request they bring tear sheets of their favorite shelter magazine rooms with them. Nine times out of ten, either the spaces are celebrities in their own rights, or the interiors belong to actual celebrities. The usual suspects? Jenna Lyons’ black, white and yellow Brooklyn home from Domino, Thom Filicia’s lake house, or Sarah Jessica Parker’s house in The Hamptons. Over the past year, a whole new batch of famous — or famous people’s — homes have made their way into the mix. Albeit uber-feminine, gender-neutral or bachelor-chic, here’s four different celebrity homes certain to always be ready for their closeups.

John Mayer's Living Room

John Mayer's Dining Room

Which Rocker Calls This Home?

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Back in college, I was so broke that I didn’t even have a phone. Always a month or two behind on car payments, I’d park my shiny, red 2-door Honda Civic a few blocks away to avoid repossession. While being penniless sucked really bad, I made the most of it, even managing to fully design my apartment complete with a good-looking, comfy sofa. In fact, no matter what my financial position has been, I’ve always gone without certain things — some important and some not — to be able to afford great seating.

Sure, those two-paychecks-away-from-living-in-a-tent days are long behind me; however, I still have a financial threshold for how much I’ll spend on a sofa: $2500. Whether it’s recovering a vintage piece or buying something brand-spanking-new, I find this to be the magic number. To prove my point, here are five fantastic sofas all $2500 or less. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What’s the maximum amount of money you’d spend on a sofa and why? HGTV Design Happens - IKEA KIVIK Sofa Check Out Brian’s Fab Five

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So I have this friend who has a titanic design crush on a particular superdesigner on HGTV, Sarah Richardson. This super smart, super tall friend (whose name I shall not mention) has a lot in common with Ms. Richardson: both started behind the scenes as set decorators before transitioning on to the small screen as hosts, they both run production companies and produce their own content, and they both seem adamant about tailored draperies and upholstery in just about every space. Of all the interiors featured on the network, everything Sarah touches — whether it’s client’s homes on Design Inc. or her own properties on Sarah’s House — looks as though it’s an ElleDECOR cover shot come to life. If you’re unfamiliar with the stunning spaces of Sarah Richardson, allow my friend to serve you up a bowl of eye candy via Ms. Richardson’s HGTV portfolio. Although I’d like to also reveal the identity of my friend, I simply cannot; however, I will give you a hint: I am him.

Sarah Richardson Bedroom

Sarah’s mixing of prints is often like a master class in both pattern and scale.

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