Helpful Tips

How to Hang a Picture

Westmoreland Drive PaintingDon’t hang pictures too high.  Pictures are supposed to be anchored to the furniture to give them some relationship to the other items in the room.  The rule of thumb is no higher than 6” above a chest or sofa.  The center of a picture that is not hanging over a piece of furniture should be at an average person’s eye level, which is considered to be 5’-4”.  Use 2 hooks in order to keep your pictures level, especially when hanging groupings of prints.  Consider a collage effect of several pieces grouped together- this will give your wall a more cohesive look than the same number of pieces scattered around a room.

Photo Courtesy Bob Narod, Photographer, LLC

How to Pick the Perfect Paint Color

Rock Hill Great RoomUse quality paint.  The most expensive part of any paint job whether doing it yourself or hiring a professional painter is the labor, NOT the paint.  Most designers recommend Benjamin Moore, Pratt and Lambert, Farrow and Ball, or C2 paint as they cover in fewer coats (especially when using darker colors) and look better longer.  Even though these paints are more expensive, the cost is due to a higher ratio of pigment and titanium dioxide which is used as a binder and allows the paint to cover more easily.  Consider Benjamin Moore “Regal Matte finish” which is a completely flat paint that is scrubbable.  This is a great paint for high traffic areas, as it hides imperfections in the sheetrock due to the flat finish, but is very washable.  For Kitchens and Bathrooms, consider Benjamin Moore’s new Aura Bath and Spa paint which has a matte finish, is washable and mildew resistant.  For children’s rooms or nurseries, try the Benjamin Moore Natura line which does not emit any odors or fumes.  If using darker colors, request a primer tinted to match the wall color- this will allow the paint to cover more easily.

Always do test swatches and look at them at different times of the day in the actual lighting conditions of the room to see if you still like the color.  Most of the paint companies now offer sample pots which allow you to paint a 2 x 2 swatch.  It’s always more expensive to do something twice. Once your job begins, check your color chips against the swatches and the first coat to make sure your paint has been mixed properly.

When picking colors, I recommend going one shade lighter than you think you want to end up with.  Walls reflect off each other and make it seem like the color is more intense than what you see in the small samples.  Yellows, pinks and blues all intensify dramatically- you might consider even two steps lighter when using yellow due to its intensity.

Here are some of my favorite colors:

Benjamin Moore 1065, 1066, 1067.  This range offers warm camel shades.

Benjamin Moore #303- pale yellow

Benjamin Moore 1079- pale neutral taupe

Benjamin Moore 997- a darker, sophisticated taupe

Benjamin Moore HC-163- sage green

Trim Paint– Benjamin Moore Decorators White is a ready mix color that is great for trim- it is not too “blue white” and looks great with most wall colors.  White Dove, Orange Peel and Linen White are also good choices for trim.  In most cases, trim should be painted semi-gloss, walls should be flat because sheet rock is rarely perfectly smooth and a flat finish conceals problem wall surfaces.

It’s hard to go wrong with the Historical Colors from Benjamin Moore.  These shades are taken from historical properties and have been used for generations.  Look for colors with warm undertones- even cool colors like blues and grays can have a hint of warmth to them, this prevents the room from feeling cold.

Ceilings– Most designers recommend painting ceilings a color instead of “ceiling white”.  Typically I use a 50/50 mix of the wall color and white for a warm and cohesive look.

Photo Courtesy Bob Narod, Photographer, LLC

How to mix Patterns like a Pro

D14117-6480 sq_01Ever go to a show house and see a really charming mix of patterns and textures and think you would never have the nerve to do that?  It is easier than it looks.  The key is the SCALE of the patterns you select.  Start with one large scale pattern, a floral, paisley, geomtric or tapestry.  Next, using the same colors, add a plaid, stripe or other geometric pattern.  Fill in with small scale prints, tone on tone geometric patterns or fabrics with lots of texture.  (Designers call these filler fabrics)  Try to repeat each fabric at least once in the room.  Sometimes you will use the same fabric on all of the upholstered pieces in a room for a monochromatic look.  Remember that every fabric doesn’t have to be a show-stopper, there is a place for solids and textures in every scheme.  If you find too many fabrics you like for the number of opportunities you to have to use them in the room, carry them into adjacent rooms.

When designing an entire home, I am often asked if the entire house must be done in the same colors.  My personal preference is to take a certain color palette and vary the VALUES and INTENSITIES of the same colors throughout the house.  For example, a scheme of red, gold and green could become soft celadon, pale buttercream yellow and coral in the more formal areas of the house, becoming more intense green, red and camel in the family room or den, and brighter spring green, cranberry and yellow in the kitchen.

If you like many different colors for different rooms, try to carry one unifying accent color throughout the spaces.  Green, red and black are great to use for accents.  Neutral monochromatic schemes with a single accent color can be very sophisticated and appealing.  A lot of the old rules have gone out the window about mixing colors and styles; most people desire an eclectic look that appears to be a collection of items acquired over time.  I personally think that if you put things together that you love, they will work well together.

Try to keep your background neutral.  Items in your home that can’t be easily replaced (countertops, plumbing fixtures, etc) should be neutral.  Even large pieces like sofas and bedding can be neutral back drops for colorful accents that you can change with the seasons.  Many of my clients like to change their rugs or pillows with the seasons.

Photo Courtesy Bob Narod, Photographer, LLC

How to Select and Work with an Interior Designer

Watkins-2939Ask friends for recommendations.  Visit for referrals to designers who work in your area.  Go to show houses or look at local magazines to find designers whose style you like.  Selecting a designer is similar to finding a doctor, attorney or accountant- it is important to find someone that you share a rapport with.  Above all, you should have fun!

Once you have found someone that you would like to work with, how does the process start?  Typically with a discussion of your budget, the scope of the project (is this a whole house or one room) and what you are trying to achieve.  You may wonder how to convey your likes and dislikes.  I ask my clients to do homework.  Tear out magazine pictures, keep swatches of paint colors you love, collect any clues that will help your designer figure out what appeals to you and why.  Maybe it is a color, a feeling of casualness, formality, the style of a furniture piece or a window treatment.  This step will save you both a lot of time.  Be realistic about your lifestyle.  Kids, pets, “stuff”, your tolerance for clutter, how much time you want to spend cleaning, how you entertain, and your lifestyle should all be taken into account when planning your home.

From here you can formulate a master plan and work from that.  Many clients budgets do not allow them to decorate their entire homes at once, but try not to suffer from incremental thinking- have a plan.  Most designers are happy to help you come up with a plan that you can implement as you have the funds.  Many designers do consultations, where they work with existing furnishings and accessories, arranging them in new ways, and adding a few new pieces to create a new look with minimal expenditures.

Hiring a designer can save you thousands of dollars by helping to avoid mistakes, as well as save you lots of time.  Don’t be afraid that you’ll end up with someone else’s vision for your home.  The designer’s job is to help you interpret your ideas, budget, lifestyle and dreams into reality.

Photo courtesy Julie Whipkey Richards Photography

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