A few weeks ago, I trekked from my temporary home in New York City to Florida for an event at Epcot. After several attempts to inquire as to all that Orlando had to offer, I was quickly corrected by the locals that Disney parks are part of a city called Lake Buena Vista. Hours later, I found myself on a stage presenting one of my HGTV.com projects on creating a mobile container garden.
As a TV producer, my job is to have three backup plans for every great idea should it fall flat. Overall, my job is to ensure content keeps viewers/readers/audiences both informed and engaged. For the sake of not losing the audience to their iPhones, I turned the focus onto the crowd thinking to myself “I wonder if I ask them their likes and dislikes about design and decorating whether they’ll actually tell me.” And did they ever.
Oh, Did They Ever
As I sit on my sofa feeding my eyes toxic reality TV content, it’s a sure-fire bet I’m simultaneously googling the ages of the people I’m watching. Once I realize the person I’m vetting has achieved success at a younger age than myself, it makes me wanna set the TV on fire or punch myself in the face—well, most of the time, that is. If said person is insanely talented or skilled and seems deserving of success, I give them my blessing and become a perma-fan. Two perfect examples: Niki Papadopoulos and Nick Olsen.
Recently, another twenty-something, force-to-be-reckoned-with made the list: LA-based interior designer Kyle Schuneman. I was first introduced the up-and-coming gentleman’s work through House Beautiful’s Next Wave List. A googlefest just moments later resulted in some serious retina therapy as my eyes absolutely fell in love, image after image, of Kyle’s brilliant body of work.
From his use of color and meticulous editing to his layering of pattern and fresh prop-styling, take a look at someone I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the years to come. If he’s churning out spaces this jaw-dropping at 25, can you imagine what we’ll see from him at 35? Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the stunning work of Kyle Schuneman as photographed by Joe Schmelzer.
Kyle Does Mid-Century & More
Recently, I became aware of something magical and amazing I’d previously labeled as tacky or silly—online art. I guess it’s due to the fact that the term makes me think that the art was actually created online; however, it simply means you can purchase it online. Well, who the hell cares where you bought it, if it’s gorg, right? Since I’ve officially purchased and installed pieces from the Web for my clients and for TV makeovers, it seems appropriate to share with you fine people two successful sources. Take a gander at the pretties I’ve either used or had my eye on, then fill us in on any art sites you’ve happily discovered or spent some serious time—or cold hard cash—on. Oh, did I mention that online art is often uber-affordable? Well, it is. And while I am a huge fan of art, I’m an even larger fan of money—specifically not spending it.
First up, ArtThatFits.com (aka “Artaissance”).
Mother Child, Butch, Birds by Jonathan Adler
Artaholics Read On
Ah, spray paint: The easiest and quickest way to customize just about anything, right? No, spray painting is kinda tough! About 8 years ago when I started working behind the scenes on home makeover shows in Miami, I was mesmerized at exactly what it took to get a good looking finish out of a can of high gloss. Art department and design assistants made it look so easy. For any of you who’ve tried your own hand with canned magic only to end up with a sticky, gloppy, over-sprayed mess, this post’s for you. Now step 8 inches back from the surface of your object and let’s get down to business.
To get that perfect sprayed finish, you’ve gotta do some hard time. Not behind bars but behind the paint—with the proper prep. Invest in an orbital sander, medium-grit sanding block, spray primer and a spray paint handle. These things will come in handy time and again. While the orbital sander is ideal for removing heavier finishes from larger, more expansive surfaces, a sanding block will get into tight nooks the orbital cannot. A can of spray primer is essential to getting your first finish coat to adhere properly. The spray handle? We’ll get to that later.
Spray Paint Tips & Tricks
As a decorator, I admit to being a major fabric snob, and when I say snob, I mean addict. For years, I’ve enabled my high-end fabric addiction by shopping solely at to-the-trade-only showrooms which non-professional decorators or designers can’t get into. Since this is all part of how I make my living, there’s no need for a 12 Step Program even though my reasoning is somewhat out of whack. I’d rather spend $12 on a chair, then use a $50 per yard fabric to recover its seat cushion than the other way around.
My to-the-trade-only situation recently changed—thanks to my amazing project manager, Dayka. She brought me to a magical place where everyone is welcome to purchase designer fabrics without enormous designer price tags, Calico Corners. Of all their offerings, I fell in love mostly with those from Thom Filicia and Iman. While I go pick up custom pillows and tableskirts made from them, you go scroll down and take a look-sie.
Iman’s “Punjab Peacock” is $39.19 per yard shown in Radicchio.
Check Out More Budget-Chic Fabrics
Do me a favor, and look up at your ceiling—thanks. Now let me politely ask “WHY THE HELL DID YOU JUST LEAVE YOUR DRYWALL CEILING BLANK BUT PAINT YOUR DRYWALLED WALLS A COLOR?” No, I’m not yelling, I just don’t really understand. White drywall ceilings are fantastic when (a) they’re part of an all-white-aesthetic (b) the ceilings are coffered or (c) they’re clad with beadboard or tongue-and-groove wood painted out white or (d) you’re broke and can’t afford another gallon of $26 paint.
Easy DIY Ceiling Medallion by Layla Palmer of The Lettered Cottage
Sure, this is totally subjective; however, as someone who gets paid to improve people’s homes, I can attest firsthand that it’s an easy way to give a room new identity, play up its assets or tone down its shortcomings. Here’s a few ceiling design ideas for different levels of DIY. Hey, you spend hours picking paint colors, taping off trim, then rolling eggshell enamel on your walls; it’s only fair you pay some attention to their upstairs neighbor. Right?
Armstrong Residential Ceilings offers a huge assortment of ceiling tiles for spaces with unfortunate but necessary drop-ceilings. In basements, or as I like to call them, “terrace levels,” drop-ceilings allow instant access to leaky pipes or damaged wiring. Sure, the grids can be torn out, then drywall can go up; however, that’s a major headache and if you can’t do it yourself, it’s also major cost. Simply swap out unsightly foam tiles for “Raised Panel” tiles which can be left in their matte white finish to help bounce light around or they can be customized with paint. In this basement’s bedroom, my team updated the ceiling in about four hours; the only tool needed was a utility knife to cut the end pieces to size. Once installed, we sprayed the ceiling and the walls the same shade of dove grey. This is a great project for people with beginner DIY skills.
Easy, Medium & Hard Ceiling Projects
About a year ago, I was hired to give an entirely new look to the set of a long-running TV series. The objective? “Fresh color scheme. It can be bold or even dark. Just make sure it’s nothing we’ve seen over and over again.” Um okay! The broad direction had me salivating Pavlovianly; however, the realistic side of me couldn’t help but obsess over too many options being a very, very bad thing. Why? Because we’re so used to palettes we’ve seen and used many times. Trying a color not many people would run out to use is like scary, uncharted territory.
I kept my little notebook of color swatches from that project, all from Benjamin Moore, and decided to list them below. One of these colors actually won although it was nowhere near the top of my shortlist. Take a look-see over these colors and let us know which you’d consider using and which make you want to cut your hair off with a dull butter knife.
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1329)
Sweet Basil (455)
See Something You Like?
Unless you’ve spent the past decade on the U.S. space station orbiting Mars, you’ve probably heard of something called Craigslist. Much like outer space or, perhaps, the fictional Land of Oz, it’s a wondrous, dubious place we’re still trying to figure out. Whether you’re hocking hand-me-downs or picking up mid-century sofas for less than a tank of gas, the site can be overwhelming.
For the ins and outs of conquering Craigslist, I turned to Atlanta-based interior designer, blogger and Craigslist enthusiast, A Curated Lifestyle’s own Capella Kincheloe. From when to search and what to search for, here’s what she had to say.
Best Days to Shop Craigslist and More
After 6 months designing the perfect Danish modern-ish, L-shaped sectional for my mid-century ranch, I’d decided on the right fabric—a black-brown velvet from Kravet. Oh, my friends, you can betcha it was sure to be the most tantalizing textile in all of my 1,560 square feet. My upholsterer’s team walked it through the back door, I took a dive onto the 11-foot long masterpiece and basked in its brilliance—until I brought a shed-happy white rescue Terrier home days later.
My point, and I do have one, is that velvet is a very complex fabric to deal with. Take it from me, I’ve had to work like crazy to keep my beloved sofa from entering the gates of furniture heaven. From durability and stitching to colors and placement, there’s so much to take into consideration. And, believe it or not, much like that ridiculous “no white after Labor Day rule,” there’s some times of the year to put the velvet away. Let’s discuss—after I cover my own velvet sofa with bedsheets, of course.
Velvet Sofa as Seen on Wallpaper Collective
First up, what is velvet and why does it feel so darn luxurious? Well, it’s usually made from silk, which means a very high cost per yard, or cotton, which is closer to a medium price point. Those two evoke the true, sensuous feeling we often associate with such a romantic textile. Synthetic velvets (silk mixed with viscose, polyester or nylon) are often the most affordable and the most durable. The latter is the best route to go if you’re a dog-allowed-on-furniture type like I am. Its range in color pretty much spans the entire rainbow; Knoll has some of the punchiest hues. Azure (blue-grey) and Lipstick (fire engine red) are unlike anything else out there.
Not a Velvet Elvis in Site
Two years ago, I bought my first house just a few months after re-designing my downtown loft. Kinda stupid, huh? Especially considering all the effort and money that goes into fully executing a design properly. Whatever…at least I avoided the shoemaker’s-kids-have-no shoes cliche, not to mention what it did to my confidence for pulling off high-end looks without high-end price tags.
Of all my design projects, my loft is probably at the top of the list; it was so personal, so outside-the-box and done on an extremely tight budget. It also landed a spread in the very last issue of O at Home. My objective was to mix up my favorite design styles: space age, pop and 1970’s masculine. One magazine editor labeled it “Loft in Space” which I kinda love.
To make a bold entrance, I had a $30 Craigslist credenza professionally sprayed with urethane paint in a color called “Red Gumball” by Pittsburgh Paints. The wall was hit with the ugly stick (as in awful faux painting) so I updated it with luan painted with flat “Bitter Chocolate” paint from Behr, then hid the seams with 1X3 MDF painted the same color but in a high-gloss finish.
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa
Growing up, I recall many borderline-offensive kitchens and/or dining rooms covered in cheap, nausea-inducing wallpaper. Perhaps that’s why my generation, kids who went to high school in the mid-1990’s, consider decorating with wallcovering so despicable. Well, it’s time to SNAP OUT OF IT [Cher slaps Nicolas]! There’s only so much one can do with eggshell enamel until the need for texture, sheen and pattern come into play.
For interior designers, wallcovering hasn’t really ever gone out of style. Sure, to the general public, it may have disappeared for 15 years; however, any high-end designer home created in the past decade is certain to have a few rooms sporting a variety of options from grasscloth to toile. If you’re borderline-interested in the possibility of wallpaper for your own home, here’s a few options sure to get your design mojo flowing. Now, as far as wallpaper BORDERS are concerned, let’s just go ahead and completely erase those from history. The world will be a better place.
Graham & Brown www.grahambrown.com
Hands down, the best source for wallpaper online. The UK-based company offers collections from huge designers such as Kelly Hoppen, Amy Butler and Barbara Hulanicki. Sure, their products are amazing; however, their prices will leave your jaw on the floor too.
“Fountain” by Amy Butler
Wallpaper is Cool Again
For me, watching sports is like seeing ducks in a pond quack at one another. Why are fans always screaming, flapping 4-foot foam hands and sporting high-energy face paint? It makes me wanna give everyone a permanent time out. (And while I can barely remember who’s playing, I do know that Genevieve Morton and the Black Eyed Peas left me off their Super Bowl Bash guest list.)
So as Super Bowl Sunday approaches, I’ve become obsessed with trying to conceptualize a football-centric space that doesn’t suck. What could be manly enough for a rugged fullback yet possess enough panache for a polished, proper prince? Hell if I know, but if they are going to co-exist, here are the items certain to help.
The Kensington sofa from Restoration Hardware. It’s got the aged leather look any dude will dig and diamond tufting befitting of the most dashing of Dukes.
Man Up With More Super Bowl Decor Pics
Sometimes I impulsively buy this-is-so-amazing-I-can’t-pass-it-up furniture and accessories (a) even though there is no place in my house for them, (b) because I do not want other people to have them and/or (c) I think to myself, “This will be great for my client…once I meet and actually GET that client.”
Before heading to America’s Mart in downtown Atlanta for the January 2011 Gift & Home Furnishings Market (see part 1 of my post about the market), I had a pep talk with myself all about the art of not buying anything, instead simply going to look and photograph amazing finds for the Interwebs.
$475 later, I gave in; however, I actually have clients who needed things and therefore my trip was a major success. The money was, of course, spent but it wasn’t mine so it doesn’t count, so stop judging me, okay?
Take a stroll through a few awe-inspiring temporary exhibits packed with items sure to spark new trends within the design community, from poodle lamps to tables pairing polished glamor with woodsy rustic. Yes, I said poodle lamps. No, I didn’t purchase any….yet.
Natural textures were abundant in almost every design scheme. Upon entry, I was pleasantly surprised to see Curb Appeal: The Block’s Chip Wade had created an uber-gorgeous living room vignette. The transitional room sported tons of coastal modern flair with some Swedish influence. Oh, and the color scheme? While I’m a big fan, I also can’t help wanting to call Chip up myself and shout “Hey man, that’s the color scheme of my house! I did it first….so there.”
Poodle Lamps, Black Swan and More
When I was in sixth grade, I wanted more than anything to experience pizza day at Danny Hernandez’s lunch table. Danny, leader of the popular kids, sat with other A-listers chatting about super-secretive, exclusively-cool stuff. D-listers like me could only dream of what they were noshing over. Who was the most awesome last week? Where is that uber-popular Maria gonna have her 13th birthday party? Twenty years later, I now know what it’s like to be in on a members-only happening.
What the hell does this have to do with decorating, you ask?
Well, just this week, I spent a full day at the Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market held at America’s Mart. Also referred to simply as “Market”, the multi-building complex is only open to industry professionals ranging from interior designers and decorators to retailers and wholesalers. For approximately one week, they swarm in, eager to lay their eyes on the latest and greatest assortment of furniture, accessories, fabrics, wallcoverings and rugs. It’s also a chance to get a first-hand look at what trends are about to hit showrooms worldwide. Inside, you’ll find a mix of temporary exhibits and permanent showrooms. This year’s Big Momma of trends? Handmade craftsmanship and Old World finishes. From rustic stools to hand-stitched bedding, hammered bathtubs to artisan lighting, here’s my scoop on where the latest wave of interior design is likely headed. They had me at hand-stitched.
First up, guests register and grab badges which are essential to getting in since, after all, this is a members-only event. The badges aren’t fashion suicide like those awful peel-and-stick tags at mixers; I even wore mine—and wore it proud.
Get the VIP Treatment
Before becoming a professional decorator, I’d bury my head in great design catalogs weekly; afterward, notsomuch. A few months into my career, I realized my job was to ensure that clients’ homes were NOT filled with things everyone had easy access to. Magically, my studio became catalog-free.
Sometimes there’s a stigma attached to catalog decorating—one that oftentimes is rather true. For some odd reason, many people tend to buy EVERYTHING they see in a single image. Instead of ending up with a beautifully coordinated room, they end up with Page 7. The key to designing with catalogs is simple—just don’t buy everything from the same one. You know how your Mom told you to share your toys with friends? Well, share your money and your square footage with different mail-order retailers, darnit!
Nowadays, I’m a huge fan of designing with catalogs. In fact, some are so well prop-styled and art-directed, that I enjoy flipping through them just as much as my favorite shelter magazines. Here’s the rundown on eight great catalogs every designer or design lover truly should be subscribing to. They’re free, they show up in your mailbox and you don’t have to leave to house to purchase stuff. What’s not to like?
Check Out My Go-To Shopping Guides
Sometimes when I see an A-List celebrity on the cover of a magazine, I think to myself, “I wonder who does their draperies?” Unhealthy? Yes. Justified? Kinda—since I assume glamorous stars who pocket $20M per movie must be living in designer homes. And if they’re not—shame on them. Not to mention, whether it’s decorating or grocery shopping, stars doing stuff in their personal time is, for some odd reason, FASCINATING!
This leads me to another curiosity: What blogs are designers and design bloggers reading and why? This new-found need-to-know started when I noticed that the Editor in Chief of Traditional Home (which I considered to be The Bible) recently became a fan of Decor Demon on Facebook. Some of the most influential people in the design and shelter magazine world are reading our words and loving our images—that’s HUGE!
For real, use this blog post as a forum to tell us all about where you spend the most time on the blogosphere and why.
See What I’m Reading
When it comes to decorating, what are the three safest and most obvious neutrals? Mmm hmm…beige, taupe and cream — BORING! Believe it or not, there’s another kinda-sorta-neutral most people are super scared of — red. Have you ever noticed that this scarlet showstopper pretty much goes with every other color? In fact, the bold, beautiful hue is so versatile and gender neutral, it’s made cameos in many of my own clients’ homes.
After four years of working as a self-proclaimed professional decorator, I’ve discovered that this super color works highly successfully in small doses. Sure, I’ve splashed walls floor-to-ceiling with red pigment and/or wallpaper, but I prefer just a few high-energy bursts of crimson to add instant drama. To show that I somewhat know what I’m talking about (or not), here’s a few examples of spaces caught red-handed.
When it comes to gifts, I’m a firm believer in going big or going home. This can often super-suck each holiday season when trying to one-up the previous year’s mega-present. A self-proclaimed procrastinator when it comes to shopping, last year was an exception as I was able to order my that’s-so-clever-I-must-have-it showstopper online weeks, even months before the big day. So just what did I get for both that top drawer individual and myself? Custom Muppets from the Muppet Whatnot Workshop. Whatchutawkinbowtwillis?
Yep, I said Muppet. This brilliant concept is housed on FAO Schwarz. With a few clicks, you can create your very own Jim Henson style doppelganger through an assortment of characteristic categories; they even arrive in vinyl drawstring bags, which eliminate the need for gift-wrapping.
Make Your Own Muppet
Writing about holiday decor often puts me to sleep. There’s only so much one can say about red, green, silver and gold decor until the desire to punch Rudolph in his crimson sniffer kicks in. Known as somewhat of a Scrooge from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, I wanted this year to be hollier and jollier.
KAZAM! In two shake’s of a non-existent reindeers’ tails, I suddenly found my design side getting into the Christmas spirit.
This is the part where you hypothetically ask yourself, “Well, how did he do that?”
Brian’s Yuletide Challenge
When it comes to choosing holiday gifts for others, sometimes I’m the WORST and sometimes I’m the BEST. Being a creative type, I only get into the gift-giving spirit once inspired by something — or someone. Unfortunately, this usually leads to procrastination, which leads to added stress, which leads to…GIFT CARDS.
Although I always try my hardest to avoid the G-word, some people are just too hard to read; rocking the pocket plastic is both safe and practical. Perhaps that vintage Bionic Woman lunchbox your TV-obsessed boss stalks on ebay is too personal a choice from an employee. Or maybe that jelly/crackers/cheese basket you picked up for the in-laws suddenly seems more fit for the gal that does your nails than the people who watch your kids.
To keep us all from resorting to the G-word, my friend and Casa Sugar editor, Julia Walsh, put together a list of 12 last-minute gifts for design lovers. From the notoriously late party guest to that special lady who loves to entertain, Ms. Walsh has gotcha covered. Unless you’re shopping for someone who prefers gift cards. And if that’s the case, maybe you should just buy them a gift card to the gift card store.