Find Your Design Inspiration!

It’s easy to say that inspiration is all around us, and of course it is. But often we may find it hard to translate that into our living environment. We look at our home and don’t know where to start. It’s important to find that something special that speaks to us and our vision and complete the interior we desire.

Everything in your home can be a source of inspiration. The idea for a room often begins with a single object: a family heirloom, a framed photo, a piece of fabric, that Merlot in your glass. Start from that single element that you love and watch the space take shape.

Even beyond that, inspiration can often be more obvious than you realize. That vacation you took last year to the beach or a visit to your local museum. The color of the sky or the leaves on a tree. Smell and sound can bring an idea to your mind. Music can inspire you visually. A song can bring the power to energize your space or be soothing and peaceful, and your home will reflect this.

I have helped clients create children’s rooms inspired by fairy tales or sports teams. We have painted stars and moons on ceilings of nurseries. A master suite enveloped in fabric can be a Moroccan fantasy and a South Seas paradise can be achieved by finding that right shade of blue you saw in Tahiti.  Anything is possible and the possibilities are endless.

AvenueMosaictilefireplace

Once you have landed on your inspiration, don’t feel pressured to move quickly. Let a room take shape naturally. It may take time for the elements to fuse together. Don’t be disillusioned or frustrated just because you have the perfect blue pillow but aren’t finding the sofa fabric to go with it. Keep an open mind, let the inspiration flow and allow the space to speak to you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. It’s OK to take risks. Keep an open mind about your room and what it may be saying to you. Discover the hidden texture or spot of brilliance in your personal inspiration. Don’t be boxed in my convention!

I always try to help clients move just a bit further from their comfort zone. A home should be a personal statement.  Your finished space, if you let it, will spring from your inspiration and may just be the impetus for someone else’s imagination.

Man Up To Interior Design

For most men, looking at or even thinking about home furnishings ranks somewhere between a visit to the dentist and getting a letter from the IRS. We’d rather do anything else but be dragged to a furniture store and asked such questions as “What do you think of this one, honey?” As a designer working with couples, I have seen that deer in the headlights look on men’s faces too many times.

Guys may think they don’t know much about interior design and wouldn’t know their settee from their settle, but we sell ourselves short. With just a few simple lessons, any man can become not only good but downright talented when it comes to decorating.

Surprised young man, against grey

Men have a real knack for space and proportion and understand spatial relations and how balance makes for a good room layout. Many of the great architects down the centuries have been men. Men excel at cooking and at designing automobiles. How is designing your living room any differentLesson One – Color is not out to get you. Believe it or not, there is something beyond Navajo white and blue. While your wife may bring home swatches of pinks and lavenders, you can one up her big time by impressing her with your knowledge of such manly colors as Sedona Rock or Wilderness Cabin. I’ve found most men are open to color more so than their mates. In the animal kingdom, males flash bright colors and strut their stuff to get attention. Somehow, human males have become drab and this just goes against nature. Whenever I show clients color options, it’s always the man who goes for the saturated reds and greens. But then he somehow retreats to his comfort zone and ends up with beige.  Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. You can do it.Lesson Two – Get out of that Dad Chair. Face it, our fathers and probably their fathers had the one chair in the house that was just theirs. Usually a recliner or at least something in brown leather, it became a man’s one and only refuge in a room he probably had no input in designing. Men aren’t like dogs who need just a bed and a bone to be happy. We need to escape the Dad Chair and join the rest of the family. Leather is great; it’s comfortable and forms to your body like an old pair of jeans. But look at lighter colors, neutral and vanilla shades that are more modern, hipper and look like part of the room plan, not an afterthought. Next time you are in a furniture store, tell your wife you want to look at tufted chairs and textural fabrics. By the time she comes to, you’ll be far away from the recliner section.

Lesson Three – It’s not like matching your shoes to your belt. Don’t let our good looks fool you, we have an imagination. If you can figure out how to sneak in that weekend in Vegas, you can select furniture without breaking into a sweat. One thing that really makes me crazy is when people say they want a bedroom “set”. We are not in the days of Ozzie and Harriet anymore. You don’t need to match the bed with the night stands and the dresser. Open up your parameters and see that mix and match makes a room more user friendly and not so staid. Recently I told a young father to go home and throw around words like “coordinate” and “complimentary” in describing his vision of the bedroom. I think I may have personally saved their marriage!

Puzzled Man 2

Lesson Four –  Up your game. I don’t know what it is about men holding on to everything.  Don’t let your house become full of unnecessary items. We all like our “stuff”, but there is a limit. Go back to the basics. Keep accessories to a minimum. The idea of the man cave probably started when someone’s girlfriend got sick and tired of looking at the trophies, framed team jerseys and collection of beer glasses that were filling up her dream house. The poor guy was banished to the den, the basement or even worse, a corner of the garage. Keep the peace in your home and be a part of the family room by learning that you can live with a lot less than you think. Not to say that your needs should be disregarded. But that poster of the cat clinging to the branch that says “Hang in there, Baby’ was probably better left at your college dorm room. You’re a grown man now. The time has come for adult art. Finally, think about how easy it will be to straighten up when you want to make a good impression on that first date.

 Lesson Five – Sofa and the Single Man. We need to stand proud and shout “I’m not going to take it any longer”. Men have needs, too, and one of these is comfort. Work with your designer to find sofas and chairs that fit you. Today one size does not fit all. You can buy furniture that’s scaled to your frame. Sofas come in different depths. Cushions can be anything from pure down to solid core foam. We don’t have to sit on tiny dining room chairs and feel that we are attending a tea party. It’s up to you, gentleman, to make your voice heard. The biggest lesson you need to learn here is not to be a passive participant in your own home and its design. Have a say in what’s comfortable for you. Sit in many options; don’t be talked into something just because it’s pretty or on sale. In this business, you get what you pay for and it’s not the time to be frugal. A recent study showed that men spend more time using their home furnishings than women do. Flex your designer muscle. Your house can look good and be a restful respite from the world.

I’ll keep this short, as most of us suffer from ADHD and have the attention span of a tsetse fly. If you think you have successfully completed this course, then it’s time to consider Interior Design for Men Graduate School. Classes start soon. If decorating your home still scares you, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hire an interior designer to lead you in the right direction. It’s bad enough someone has to pick out your clothes. Don’t let your wife or mother make the decisions you will have to live with for years.

Now, let’s talk the biggest screen TV we can find….

Loving a Mid Century Home

Californians have accepted and grown to love the single level ranch style. In fact, we are embracing this more than ever as Mid Century Modern continues its resurgence. What was once considered a an ugly house is now seen for the great design and lifestyle it provides. Yet, there are ways to make your rancher special. First of all, be realistic. Your home is never going to be an Italian villa or an English Tudor. You have to be true to the bones and architectural style that makes it what it is. But don’t fall into the cliché and follow the pack. Mid Century Modern homes embraced many eras and decades. You can mix the comforts and trends of today with the cool factor of the ’50s and ’60s without losing character. When you think of the history of your home, remember that in the days before “house flipping” was a thing, families lived in these houses for 20 or 30 years. The space evolved and contained the furnishings and accessories of a lifetime, not just a decade frozen in time.

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Classic MCM home featuring walls of glass and beams  and furnishings.

Use colors and tones that evoke a rich and warm palette with accents of colors like lime green, orange and pink. Give the rooms an identity by texturing the walls with striated patterns or glazing. Replace carpet with hardwood, rough stone or large porcelain tile, even breaking up the standard living/dining room area with a curved hard surface walkway.

When it comes to furnishings, use a few large pieces that make the rooms look bigger and more important. Off white sofas with industrial chic is a hip look right now. Throw in an antique chair covered in rich velvet and you’ll end up with a room that looks sophisticated, modern and very architectural. Discard heavy draperies for roller shades and wood blinds.

Keep kitchens and bathrooms minimal and functional. Less is really more when renovating your classic MCM house. It’s all about the materials – think glass tiles and slick, low counters. Polished surfaces shine and reflect light.

Embrace the mid-century aura of your home and be proud of what it represents – a time and place that can never be replaced but can be your take on a classic architectural residence.

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Awesome original 1961 home. Notice how the floor becomes the focal point.

To learn more check out the vast inventory of homes in Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills …  houses built between 1945 and 1975. There are still some great bargains out there and even a few untouched by time, time capsules that you can learn so much from!

Design Challenge Of The Month

We need to furnish our first home, but have a limited budget. Any advice?

Everyone has a budget and these days it’s more important than ever to stick to it. The rule to remember here is: you get what you pay for! Don’t be lured into buying “packaged” rooms, where lower end furniture stores put together a sofa/chairs/end tables/ lamps grouping for one flat price. A well designed room is made up of diverse elements and takes time to create properly. Invest in a few good, well made pieces and they will last for years. Add as your budget allows. I’ve always believed it’s better to have one classic, timeless sofa alone in a room, than a space filled with furniture that won’t last, just to fill the emptiness.

If you are starting out, you will need the basics, of course, but choose well. Trends are fun to follow, but be careful you don’t make a big ticket purchase that will look dated quickly. Talk to a designer and educate yourself about furniture construction, fabrics and styles. Explore every options: flea markets, consignment stores, showroom closeouts, even garage sales. You may find that hidden treasure that everyone else has passed by.

If you plan to move in a few years, think about what will travel with you and be usable in new rooms or configurations. Above all, enjoy the process, love what you buy and have fun with it!

Here a few good basic pieces to start you out:

sofa

A tight back, single cushion roll arm sofa is a great beginning that will always be a classic style and grow with your family.

coffee table

Washed wood coffee tables with smaller pull out tables really come in handy in a small space. Use them in so many ways yet keep them together. Clean and modern, you can’t go wrong with this combination!

bedupholstered

Another classic design that can work in so many styles. Tufted upholstered beds add style to any room – it’s all about the linens you use to make it formal or casual!

Are You Ready For Spring?

Although for many on the East Coast and the Midwest, spring seems a long way off, here in California we are already experiencing warmer days, more sunshine and “spring fever”. I know I’m ready to pull up the blinds and open the windows and let the light and fresh air in.

Your home may also feel that it’s tired of winter and wants to breath. Now is the time to look at ways to add freshness and vigor to your rooms and embrace the change of seasons.

Here are 3 great ideas that will chase away winter and get your home ready for spring:

spring-frames

Put away that old heavy comforter and invest in a brightly colored throw or coverlet for the bed. This season I’m seeing a whole new approach to prints and patterns. Stripes are always easy to mix and match with solid sheets and fun flower patterns reminiscent of the 1970’s are crazy fun and will add a smile to your face.

 Pull out glass containers, vases and bowls. Here again, color is what’s happening. Don’t be afraid to experiment. In a garden window mix canary yellow, apple green and melon orange glass objects in different sizes. Don’t worry yet about adding flowers or fruit to the bowls and vases, let their color and shape alone be the interest factor.

– Get Passionate for picture frames. So many of us put a photo from a holiday or vacation in a frame and there it sits, growing stale, for years and years. Take a good look at your frames, whether they are on a shelf or the piano. Discard dark colors and heavy woods and replace them with shell borders, glass on glass and brightly hued plastics. Not only will you see those photos in a new light, but the patterns and colors will brighten up the whole room.

It’s already March! Can you see and feel the smell in the air?  Spring is right around the corner. Are you ready?

My Personal Favorites for 2017

For the first post of 2017, I want  to share a few of my favorite design elements and inspirations.  Enjoy!

Favorite individual piece –The 54” Braziliance Commode is a two drawer cabinet designed by Dorothy Draper, one of the most iconic interior designers of the 20th century. Originally created in 1939 for the Quitandinha Resort in Sao Paulo,Brazil, the styling captures the South American craze that swept the USA in the 30’s and 40’s. With classic oversized acanthus leaves, carved serpentine moldings and a shell carving in the center, it exudes class and sophistication. Approximately $7000 through your design professional.

Favorite color – No doubt about it, there is nothing that can beat basic black. This one color goes with every design style and brings out the best in any fabric or finish. Use it in high gloss for the dining room with a funky crystal chandelier, in a soft gray tinted black for that sexy, sophisticated bedroom or an upholstered slick mid-century chair in plush black velvet. This is the hottest in color for an all around perfect accent in your home.

Favorite fabric – After more than a  few years of earth tones, I’m seeing the re-emergence of stripes, plaids and Paisley in vivid colors. And not a moment too soon. Mixing a bright, fun palette in unusual combinations, these patterns are bringing life and excitement back to interior design. Whether it’s a sign of our improved emotional state after the last couple of tough years, or just imagination gone wild, it’s great to see their return. Use these colorful, fresh fabrics everywhere, from dining room chairs, to throw pillows or even wallpaper your powder room for that wow factor.

  Favorite new look – Although the avocado green appliances of my childhood still haunt me to this day, I’m crazy about the new color options being shown on washers and dryers. Bright reds, navy blues and soft grays allow us to bring the utilitarian laundry room into the new century. Just like flat screens have taken the television out of armories and cabinets and put them on display, now you can be proud to show even this room to your friends and not have to hide it behind bi-fold doors. Now when friends tour your home, you won’t have to stand in front of the door and say “oh that’s just the laundry room”.

 Favorite comeback look – Michael Taylor single handedly turned the design community on its ear in the late 1970’s and 80’s with his organic, beachy southern California  look.Michael died of AIDS in 1987 but his signature style is back with a bang, starting with his famous basketball shaped sofa pillows. No other style from that era is more au courant than the Taylor aesthetic: interiors of textural fabrics, sexy curves and casual comfort. Other designers, such as Donghia that were big in the late 70’s and 80’s are also experiencing a resurgence of interest.

 Favorite design era – The 1930’s have always fascinated me. It was a time of incredible wealth as well as a time of belt-tightening. Simple living was balanced with opulent design. People gravitated to the movies to escape, and the movie sets were over the top.  You cannot watch a Busby Berkeley musical without being amazed at the creativity and fantasy. The extensive use of metallics, glass and mirrors into the home brought a new brilliance into design. Throw into the mix the most creative time of Frank Lloyd Wright, Corbusier and The Bauhaus. What more could you ask for?

Favorite place for inspiration –PARIS! What more can you say? Not only does the city of lights spark romance, it’s also the catalyst for design inspiration. The history, the architecture, the furniture shops and the famous flea markets all add up to the best place in the world to feel creative. Only the French can make design look so effortless. Whether you purchase a trinket or bring home a container of French antiques, anyone can feel special with a bit of Paris in their homes. There are numerous, beautiful coffee table books on French style. Check them out.

Embrace the things that are your personal favorites. Make your home fun, the place you love to come home to and most of all your inspiratio. Take the time to explore and learn the new concepts, ideas and trends. You’ll be glad you did.

Design For The Holidays!

The holidays are nearly upon us. As we pull old decorations from storage, it’s a good time to explore the latest design trends to liven up your space and add spice to that party!

3 creative ideas to make this holiday unlike any before:

Tweak your Christmas colors: We all know red and green as the colors of the season. This year explore the whole palette available to you.  Silver, aqua and white are very hot this season and always a sharp and sophisticated element to transition into New Years Eve.  Introduce chocolate into your holiday decor.  Not only does it add warmth and modernism to the room, it brings that organic feeling inside.  Keep to tones that suggest a culinary experience, like latte, cocoa or cinnamon.  Use ornaments with stripes, polka dots or abstract designs.

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Twist your tree: We all like to unwrap the ornaments and discovering the one that’s been in the family for generations, brought home from vacation or made in grade school.  This year, do something completely unexpected.  Decorate your tree in only one color or with just blue lights.  I’ve seen trees hung from the ceiling upside down, completely covered in high heels or with dog toys. Metallics are a huge trend this season. Revive the pink aluminum tree from the ’60s!  Consider purchasing a live tree in a pot and plant it outside after the holidays.  It’s renewable and enjoyable year around!

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Party like it’s 2017: The key word this season is innovation.  Mix things up and keep the energy high.  Throw a costume party and invite guests to come as their favorite holiday character.  Decorate the house in a fiesta theme but make it black tie.  Ask friends and family to bring the wackiest ornament they can find and have a prize for the most outlandish!  Mix and match your dishes and glasses or add tropical prints to the holiday decor.  Put palm fronds in a vase with pine cones and ban Poinsettia from the property.

champagne

Whatever you do, have fun!  Enjoy the love and laughter of friends and family and happy holidays to all.

Interior Design Hand in Hand With Realtors!

Interior Designers can be a very helpful partner for real estate professionals. When I work in Los Angeles, Orange County and Palm Springs, my connection with agents and brokers not only opens doors to me for new clients, but helps them in making quick sales, prepping a sellers home for showings and advising potential buyers on renovations costs.

Here is how it works:

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– Offering design consultation to your seller on how to utilize existing furnishings for their home to feature its best assets. Guiding them on minimizing clutter, rearrangement of furnishings, accessories and artwork and minor “facelifts” for a quick offer and sale.

– Meeting with you and your buyer at a prospective property to give realistic ideas on cost of potential renovations and upgrades. Visualization of how their furnishings may work in this home and helping to understand the price of a new bathroom or kitchen are considerations that lead to making an offer

– Working with your client at closing to help make their new house a home. At the start, a new purchase may look daunting. Interior design services provide ideas on renovations, space planning and arranging existing pieces in the new home as well as creating the perfect new interior.

– Advising clients considering a scale down. Recently there is a trend to downsizing, especially by baby boomers. There are currently thousands of new homes and condo units being built in at this time. A professional designer gives excellent advice on how to scale down from a larger home yet keep cherished items.

So whether you are a seller, a buyer or just someone who needs help with interior design, ask your realtor if an interior designer consultation might be what you need.

Contact me at stevenedwardwallace@gmail.com

Is Your Home Haunted?

This is an encore post from 2014. So many asked me to re-post it this Halloween, so here it is. Enjoy!

designstateofmind

Many of us live in a haunted house and don’t even realize it.  I don’t mean haunted in the traditional sense; like the kind you go to on Halloween or an abandoned mansion you may see in the movies.  But, our homes can be and often are haunted by the ghosts of our own furnishings.  We tend to keep possessions and stuff we don’t really need anymore.  Look around you…  do you still need to display that trinket you bought on your vacation in 1985?  How about the framed wall hanging that says “Have A Nice Day” your Aunt Ruth gave you for a housewarming gift when you moved in 20 years ago?  It’s time to go through and refresh your accessories.  Edit out what’s old and just a dust collector.  Arrange like things that are precious to you in a collection, not spread over every surface.image

Another way you…

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The Livin’ Is Easy.

Remember this song? “Summer time … and the livin’ is easy.” I always loved the slow swaying movement of that song. It fit the weather – hot, humid and heavy with the smells of summer: BBQ, tanning lotion, bug spray and campfires.

Growing up in the Midwest, summer was brief and we had to make the most of it. Boating on the lake, camping on the beach, laying out under the stars, hoping to catch a tan before school started up. It was a happier time, not because it was the “good old days” but because when you are young without much worry or stress, life is just simpler.

And that’s what’s so awesome about this time of year. We get outside, we enjoy the sunshine, the friendship, the laughs. We roast s’mores. We jump off docks into freezing lakes. We rock on the front porch. Our stress levels drop and for a brief time our life is simple again.

Here are just a few design ideas to incorporate into your home this season.. Take time to make your livin’ easy and embrace life outdoors!

summertimeadirondacks

Adirondack chairs are an American classic and fit into any outdoor decor. I love these green painted ones. They are inviting down a flagstone walkway to the fire pit. Place them in the middle of the  garden or the end of the dock or just simply out on the lawn.

summertimeopenwindow

Make your outdoor dining fun and easy. Poolside … this inventive swing up window is great for a walk up bar. By day, it’s ice cream and lemonade, at night, it’s cocktails and finger food. 

summertimestringlights

Modern, simple and elegant – a glass of wine, string lights and a hot August night. What more could you want? Candles set the mood for romance or just star-gazing. As the evenings cool, grab a blanket and stay out til dawn!

summertimepots

Have a boring patio or porch? Colorful container pots let you make your own statement. Group assorted sizes for a real designer look. Great for small spaces, apartment living or celebrating a summer holiday.