Here are 4 tips on what to know before hiring an Interior Designer or how to avoid costly mistakes when working as your own Designer. Tips to make the process super easy and get the best out of your design experience.
As more and more people work remotely and spend large amounts of time inside their homes, certain things begin to take on more importance. Things such as the layout of their interior spaces, creating a balance and harmony through the proper and optimum use of color, patterns, textures, and lighting is becoming more important in everyday lives. To that end, the functionality of design elements is just as essential as aesthetics.
Interior Architecture Vs Interior Design
Interior design focuses on the hard and soft furnishings for the home – Fittings, Fixtures, and Equipment. Elements such as wall colors, flooring, tiles, cabinets, window treatments, furniture accessories are added by the homeowner and are easy to change – some more than others.
Interior architecture, on the other hand, usually pertains to structural aspects of the home. It defines what each space is for and how the different spaces work together. Interior architecture may or may not be permanent. For an existing home, this tends to involve remodels or structural alterations, such as walls, door and window openings, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure, etc., etc.
Architecture and Interior Design are two disciplines that are complementary to each other. The best design projects result from the successful collaboration of Designer and Architect – each super-specialized in their own field.
TIP #1 – Floor Plans
One of the key things to know before hiring an Interior Designer is that a set of Floor Plans are essential. Architectural plans and prints are what builders use as a roadmap on how to build. However, they are not always built 100% exact. Architectural prints are a conceptual drawing of a space. Most of the time, the dimensions on the print differ from physical job site measurements.
The prints are a great guide, but If they are the drawings that the GC (General Contractor) built off and not the revised plans of what was actually built there may be discrepancies from the plans vs what was built on site. There is no way of knowing if there are any discrepancies until the designer takes actual measurements of the room.
As-built drawings, on the other hand, are actual measurements of the space. When designing a space, Designers prefer to be provided with as-builts, or take their own measurements. Otherwise it becomes difficult to design an accurate furniture layout or guarantee a fit with respect to the furniture and traffic pathways in a room.
TIP #2 – When it comes to color
Wall color is the easiest and quickest fix when refreshing or redesigning a room. However, the thing to keep in mind is that wall paint usually ends up a shade or two darker on the wall than what you see on the paint chip when looking at the fan deck in your home improvement store.
A good designer will choose the color you love – then go down the paint deck to the next shade lighter. That is your correct wall color. Wall colors have the ability to make us feel calm and relaxed OR anxious ad stressed out. Choosing a color that is easier to live with is a wiser decision than opting for a trendy “it” shade.
TIP #3 – When it comes to Lighting
Lighting can make or break a room’s design. Walking in the room at different times of the day and noting where the light comes in will help you or your designer decide where the sofa – the largest design element in a living room – or the bed – the largest element in a bedroom – is placed.
For nighttime lighting – each room must have ambient, mood, and task lighting – scattered throughout the room. Rooms with inadequate lighting tend to be low on functionality. Poorly lit rooms are not suitable gathering places for family and friends.
TIP #4 – The trick to shopping for furniture
Shopping for furniture online is tricky. Similar to shopping in a furniture showroom. Items look very different in a furniture store or designer showroom than they would look after bringing them home. The lighting in a furniture showroom is commercial-grade lighting.
Similarly, photos of furniture and accessories, such as pillows throws and window treatments seen online are usually lit differently than they would be at home. Hence they tend to look different when they are delivered.
What to know before hiring an Interior Designer is that designers are great at visualizing an “after” look for your space. If you are working as your own designer, it helps to be able to visualize the particular shopping item in your home alongside your existing furniture and fittings. Does the piece work with the style of what you currently own?
There are times when it is ok to mix different styles and periods but it is crucial to know the rules first, in order to break them. Next, visualize the level of light in the room. The furniture sales representative is there to help answer questions about the item and offer suggestions. However they do not know your choices or your room as well as you or your designer does, so order only when you are absolutely sure that you have made the right choice.
Designer as Guide
Whether you decide to hire an Interior Designer or decide to go DIY – to transform your home to fit your and your family’s needs and preferences, whether you are a maximalist at heart or a minimalist, keep in mind your home is about you.
Let your designer guide you – because he/she is the professional with the training and experience. Having said that, your home is not about your designer’s favorite style. Neither is it about trends that are here today, gone tomorrow. Insist on the best value for the time and resources that you spend.
Last but not least – make 2 crucial decisions before you pick up the phone to make that call to the designer –
Know your budget before hiring a Designer.
Set a timeline for your project.
Pics Credit – Art Deco Living Room pic courtesy Villa Tika Marrakesh -Orange and white wall color Image courtesy Elle Decor – Mood Lighting image courtesy Tori Black Homes and Home Designing – Modern Dining Room in Traditional home pic image courtesy Ikoab – Designer inspired Kitchen pic courtesy HGTV
Before we get started on how to steal a Paris Apartment look for your own home, one thing to keep in mind is that most Parisian apartments start with more than we can hope for in a standard American apartment building – quite a bit more. Most American apartments start with a white box, whereas Parisian apartments already have great bones. Herringbone parquet floors and double windows down to the floor – with French doors – that let in lots of light. Some apartments also have what is know as Trumeau. These are old original mirrors above the fireplace which are found in French châteaux as well as apartments.
So that means we need to pay attention not only to what you put into your room but also what the frame of your room looks like.
….In a Paris apartment – or home – are never plain. If you are in an apartment where you are allowed to re-paint, go for a layered look with a subtle tonal textured paint on the walls. However, avoid the sponge-painted look of the seventies as that may end up looking inauthentic and not Parisian. If you are an expert – try rag glazing. On the other hand, if you are like most of my clients who are not – read on.
For this, you will need:
Two 1/2 gallon cans of paint in two colors
A one-gallon paint can – empty
Step ladder if needed
Buy water-based or latex paint – not oil-based – in two very similar – as in next to each other on the paint deck – shades. Get half a gallon of each – most standard-sized rooms need 1 gallon of paint. I like the look of a flat finish so I would use flat finish for this. Open the can of paint that is a slightly darker color – darker than the other. Using a roller – paint your walls covering them well. Allow to dry. Next, open the can of paint in a lighter color. Thin this down with paint thinner in a half and half ratio – half paint and half thinner. Using a brush, paint over the wall using vertical and horizontal strokes. Do not worry about total coverage and do not worry about brush strokes. Let dry. Cover the entire wall with a top coat of clear acrylic – to make the walls somewhat consistent making it more resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Especially if there are young ones around. This particular paint treatment will give you a bold layered look. That is one way to steal a Paris Apartment style for your own home
Milk Paint or Chalk paint produces a more subtly textured wall. Both paints give amazing rich and complex paint finishes. It comes in powder form and only needs to be mixed in with water so you can monitor how thick or thin you want the mix to be. Thinner coats produce the best results. Chalk paint finishes are thicker and more consistent, whereas milk paint is often less predictable. Milk paint ages beautifully, looking more polished with different levels of sheen.
I like Milk Paint because there are no fumes during use, and is safe enough to go down the kitchen sink. If you want to learn more about using Milk Paint and all it’s advantages – I am going to do a tutorial on it soon, so stay tuned. For now, just know that mixed milk paint goes bad quickly so use it on the day it is mixed, or leave it overnight in the refrigerator and use it the following day. Milk paint soaks into the surface instead of forming a coat as regular latex wall paint does. If you have trouble with the paint not adhering to your previously painted walls, get a bonding agent like Milk Paint Ultra Bond for non-porous surfaces.
Hemp oil is a great top coat for milk paint. The oil gives your walls a darker, rich color and luster. Top coats are optional but they protect paint from moisture and wear and are best for bathroom and kitchens.
Chalk paint can also be mixed to create custom colors. You can uses Annie Sloan, or Websters Chalk Paint. Similar to Milk Paint you can apply this paint with a brush or roller. Brush strokes crate interest and add texture. Chalk paint distresses well.
If you are doing a large room, the price of store-bought chalk paint like Annie Sloan may be prohibitive. However, you can follow my recipe below to create our own home-made substitute for great results.
Home-made Chalk Paint Recipe:
One Cup Latex Paint (flat)
A 1/4 Cup Calcium Carbonate
An eight of a Cup Water
Depending on the size of your room, a gallon of paint could be more than enough. Do not worry about getting every lump out of your mixture, because that is what will give you the streaky look of a Haussman interior – that is my tip number one on how to steal a Paris Apartment style. Annie Sloan has tutorials on Chalk Paint but you do not need them for what we are trying to get done.
If you’re really in the mood for that one-of-a-kind dreamy finish for the walls in your home (time and budget permitting), opt for a lime wash. That is the real thing, but that is a story for another day.
If glazing or lime washing your walls like a Parisian is a no-no – you can think about adding statement-making wainscoting. For a modern take on the wainscoting concept, you can paint one wall of the room in a contrasting color from the rest of the room. Then install a grid pattern batten molding from baseboard to ceiling. It should be painted the same color as the wall where it is going. This is a nice way to create a feature wall – and one of my top tips on how to steal a Paris Apartment. Alternately, you can have batten or wainscoting only half-way up the walls from the baseboard to a chair rail going all around the room. Batten must be the color of the wall. Wainscoting looks best painted white.
However, avoid shiplap – as that will not give you a Parisian or European look. If you are in a home of your own and time and budget allow a remodel, spring for a wider baseboard. Most spec home builders go for the skinniest stock baseboards to avoid ramping up the cost of your home. So if and when you have a chance to add value to your home – as a Designer, one would suggest, go for it,
….Of original herringbone Parquet floors found in most Parisian apartments – cannot be found in most American homes and never in American apartments. However, the look can be substituted with wide plank engineered wood floors, to achieve a similar result. Having said that, if you bought a home and have the time and resources for a new floor, that is awesome. If not, most American landlords will perhaps not give permission to re-do their apartment floor. Nevertheless, we have a fix.
The next thing would be to find out from the landlord if he might allow us to put down stick-on adhesive decorative tiles. Tiles that appropriate the look of French Limestone and slate tiled rooms. Octagon white tiles with smaller corner “cabochon” black tiles in between. That is what all the best Parisian foyers are wearing. Add a black border all around the edge of the room and viola…you’re there….!
Lowes has a peel and stick parquet-look floor as well as Peel and stick versions of tiled limestone and marble floors. You can either go crazy, or restrained, according to your taste and sale. And that is one more way to steal a Paris Apartment. Peel and stick tiles adhere to most vinyl concrete and wood floors. Check the retailer/manufacturer’s instructions.
3) Crown molding
…is a decorative element used for capping cabinets, columns, and, most often, interior walls at the point where the wall meets the ceiling. Often, crown molding is created of wood, but in recent years, plastic and foam options have become more readily available. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) versions are popular as well. The latter are more flexible, they paint nicer and they react better to fluctuations in temperature.
Usually, apartments and some newer homes come with a standard 2 ¼-inch casing around windows and doors and a 3 ½-inch baseboard which runs along the bottom of walls and no crown molding.
A modern selection of crown moldings currently available to consumers make it easier than ever to take a room from blah to beautiful. There’s an immediate impact that crown molding brings to a room. For homeowners, it adds value to the home – which is a selling feature. If there are two identical houses next to each other and one has crown molding and the other one doesn’t, the home with the crown molding will be worth more.
Crown molding in both traditional and modern styles are available. Prices for moldings are reasonable and installation time is minimal. A seasoned DIYer should not have a problem installing their own crown moldings using a miter saw. If not, you can always go to Angie’s List and get a guy.
….in Parisian apartments are opulent – both the material and yardage. To get the same look in your home, make sure you measure the windows. When ordering fabric yardage make sure it covers two and a half to three times the width of the window. Also make sure the curtain rod is wider than the window opening. There needs to be space to the left and right of the window opening to stack the curtains when they are open so as to let in light. This is the right way to get that true Parisian feel.
In a room with regular height ceilings, the curtains must hang close to the ceiling – 2-4 inches from crown molding if you have it. Measure to the floor then deduct 1 inch to make sure your curtains wont drag each time you open and close them. If you want your curtains to puddle on the floor in true Parisian style, add 3 to 4 inches to the length. Make a simple diagram of your window and write down inches right and inches left. Measure the window – with trim – and note this number. Next, measure the inches above the window and inches below your window – skip the latter when measuring for French doors or patio doors. Now you are ready to order a window covering that shows off your sense of style – and establishes you as the new master on the subject of how to steal a Paris Apartment…!
5) All that glitters
….isn’t always gold but it does always spell Parisian glamour ….and a little je ne sais quoi. A touch of gold makes the room glisten in the evening light when entertaining with friends and lifts your spirits on quiet nights while enjoying a glass of Prosecco as you mull your next move on how to steal a Paris Apartment.
…especially one or two carefully chosen ones are a Parisian apartment must haves. Traditional antiques in the form of vintage accessory items or place settings, in a modern interior. Alternately have modern antiques such as a pair of chairs, an iconic sofa or a single case-good item or an accessory piece in an otherwise traditional setting. The trick is to mix in the old with the new or vice versa. A few vintage pieces add another layer to your re-created Paris flat.
The trick is to make your antiques look as though they were in the family for centuries instead of being staged. The most important lesson on how to steal a Paris Apartment would be to shop for antique items that are functional and then use them everyday.
….is an important part of the Paris apartment decor. Parisians tend not to shy away from color. Think big bold pops – especially if your walls are neutral tones. Plan out color, size and theme. When it comes to size – here’s where you won’t go wrong with up-sizing.
As for theme – this is where you get to infuse your own personality. Choose art that aligns with your hobbies, your travels your favorite color. Trust your gut and trust your taste. Avoid family portraits or your wedding photos on the walls of your living room or family room – those do have a valuable place in your home – elsewhere.
Avoid generic prints that are this season’s favorites on Pinterest. When choosing a color – remember to mix but you do not necessarily have to match. Shop for unique pieces with personality in eye-catching frames.
….are a homeowner’s – or renter’s – best friend. Statement chandeliers are a great idea when you feel you only have the strength to go for a big impact piece and call it a day. Shop for chandeliers that work with your style – whether it’s a traditional French number dripping with crystal,
…..or a modern chandelier – unique and distinctive. Sometimes a single stylish ceiling pendant can spell the difference between a half- finished room and a well-designed one. If you chose the right one it can say a lot about your style by not saying too much. And that is how to steal a Paris Apartment. You can also check out some of my favorite recipes here. Let me know how they turn out. I love hearing from you guys. As always, if you have any questions about my E-design packages (the basic e-design package is currently 40% OFF during the pandemic) or want to chat about anything else design, you can always contact me at toriblackhomes.com
More is more…and MORE is in…!! If the words Maximalist Design conjures up visions of over-the-top, stuffy rooms cluttered with tchotchkes and keepsakes gathered over the years, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. This is not your grandmother’s maximalism….!
I have put together 10 easy tips on how to create a joyous oasis of maximalist luxury in your home, without it looking cluttered or busy. Maximalism is not so much a style as it is an escape from a world and culture that at times seems bleak and boring since it was born out of a reaction to the minimalist movement.
A Maximalist space can be in any period, style, or trend. It can be applied to a small room, making it look like a luxurious little jewel box or a large room where it makes a statement. The basic elements of a maximalist home are pretty much the polar opposite of a minimalist interior. The minimalist preference for white walls and quiet color palettes are a no-no for maximalism. The bolder, brighter, and more color-splashed it is, the better.
In the words of Jonathan Adler, “minimalism is a bummer. When you’re about to kick the bucket, you don’t want to look back and see an endless haze of beige.” I have worshipped at the altar of both. I have lived through my minimalist period and celebrated my unabashedly maximalist phase and reveled in the joy of each, at different phases of my life. Here are some quick tips on how to create a maximalist oasis. Let your soul spread its wings and have its own maximalist moment.
COLORS – Take a look in your wardrobe for cues on what colors make you happy. Painting your walls the same color as your favourite skirt or summer jacket or pantsuit will make you feel empowered and confident working in this Home Office and walking through that stylish Indigo hued Art Deco style Hallway, every day. Against this rich backdrop, the white and occasional black of the furniture in the foreground is what makes the walls pop but yet does not overpower the room.
LAYERS – This is a little tricky to pull off – but not if you follow the simple rule that I have followed a hundred times with clients and am sharing with you now. Select an item of clothing in a bold color from your closet. At the paint shop, match the color of the wardrobe item to a shade on the paint deck (or what’s closes to it) and note down the name. Now, on the same paint chip go to a shade that is 1 or 2 or 3 steps up or down from your original selection to start building your color scheme. Note down the names of each shade. These will be the colors for your wall paint and the dominant color for wallpaper, rug, sofa, and curtains but, remember not to stick to solids. For instance, layer a solid color sofa on a self-patterned rug and curtains in bold patterns against the backdrop of small-patterned wallpaper on one wall or two. This will give you a wonderfully layered look that is luxurious and comforting at the same time, like this Traditional style green-on-green Drawing Room, steeped in eye-catching opulence.
DRAMA – Add red in measured doses and you can never go wrong. However, an entire bedroom with red-painted walls may not be the ultimate relaxing space. In the bedroom below, the bold red Art Deco style headboard against the dark blue walls are softened by a lavender lamp shade. Clever blending of all the different colors together stirs in excitement into the space without making one feel anxious or irritating. Bear in mind, lavender is red and blue mixed together but in inequal ratios. As I always say, it’s all in the details.
BOLD CONTRASTS – To create this effect, pull colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel in a split-complementary or tetradic color scheme. The blue, watermelon, orange, green, pale yellow, and brown contrast with as well as complement each other well in the living room below. As do the patterns (stripes with large scale prints) and textures (plush with shiny finishes), to create a sophisticated, eclectic interior space that you will not easily tire of, no matter how long the stay-at-home lockdown lasts.
LARGE SCALE – The oversized scale of the artwork, the floor to ceiling bookshelves and the plush overstuffed sofas against the floor to ceiling window coverings in the room below, joyfully plays up the maximalism in this Eclectic style home.
PATTERN PLAY – The prints on the wallpaper, the fabric canopy, the bedspread complement each other and work well in this pattern-on-pattern blush themed English Country style bedroom below. By varying the scale of the prints on the furnishings, as well as by contrasting dark and light wood finishes, It feels calming and serene despite the use of multiple patterns.
GLAMMED UP – Walls clad in luxe wallpaper and velvet-upholstered chairs with brushed nickel finish detail gathered around the burnished wood dining table with a rich, dark sheen topped with a stylish chandelier, ups the glam factor of this Modern style maximalist dining room below.
BLACK IS A BEAUTIFUL BACKDROP – A rich glossy black finish instantly dresses up this jewel-like kitched with mirrored backsplash – like wearing a string of black pearls paired with a white silk blouse to a posh but fun gala.
ANIMAL PRINTS IN SMALL DOSES – Animal prints are a great way to add pattern and instant glamour to a space – but in small doses, such as an ottoman, a pillow cushion or…. if you dare…an area rug.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN IT’S PLACE – Maximalism is not about rooms packed wall to wall with furniture and accessories. Rather, it is about curated collections carefully edited with a keen eye and a disciplined approach. The Transitional style Family Room showcases the homeowners’ collected treasures from travels around the world separately on the built-in bookshelves and in an antique chinoiserie armoire so it still manages to look neat and orderly by following the rule of – a place for everything and everything in its place.
Photo credits – Maximalist Interior photo courtesy Daunenspiel. Jonathan Adler flagship store NYC photo courtesy Jonathan Adler. COLORS – Electric Blue Home Office and Art Deco style Hallway photo courtesy 1st Dibs, design by Sasha Bikoff. LAYERS – Green-on-green layered Traditional style Drawing Room photo courtesy One Kings Lane. DRAMA – Hollywood Regency style Red headboard in bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. BOLD CONTRAST – Blue, orange, brown and pale yellow Mid-Century Living Room photo courtesy Architectural Digest. LARGE SCALE – Eclectic Living room with oversized artwork photo courtesy Architectural Digest. PATTERN PLAY – English Country Cottage style blush bedroom photo courtesy Country Life magazine. GLAMMED UP – Dining Room photo courtesy Ellie Koleen photography, Design by Erin Melkonian Designs, Light fixture courtesy Corbett Lighting. BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL – Bathroom photo courtesy The Tile Shop blog. ANIMAL PRINTS – Leopard Print rug in Mid-Century style bedroom photo courtesy Chairish. A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING – Transitional Style Family room photo courtesy Tori Black Homes Interior Design.