Answering The Age Old Question: What Am I Missing?

During a recent workshop, I outlined one of my basic strategies for creating environments of interest. Sometimes advice like this is easier expressed than executed. But for those of you who feel your design may be missing something, maybe this will help.

In general, I tend to look at spaces more like an artist approaches the composition of a painting. I look for opportunities to create Interest -Color/Pattern/Texture, Balance -The appropriate percentage of colors throughout the interior, and Scale-The right size pieces that make the room function based on a desired design intention. But beyond the obvious, I also seek out areas in a room, where the client and I can make personal & authentic statements which may or may not include the well placed store-bought accessory. Here’s a quick overview:

1.) A visually tight color scheme starts with softer, more neutral colors on the walls. Paint manufacturers do a great job drubbing into our heads that room-color means wall paint. It may sell a lot of gallons, but it more often than not makes for simplistic and sophomoric spaces, where the wall color detracts from, or even worse, dominates the interior. I like to derive my color schemes from inspiration fabrics and flooring textiles. I then look to extract the accent colors in deliberate percentages to add interest and balance to a room. Textile design is a wonderful place to start because they seamlessly blend colors in interesting and beautiful percentages. So before you head to the paint store, find a great rug and coordinating inspiration fabrics.

2.) Most of the existing rooms that I design, even the ones presented to me by a builder or architect, are typically under lit. Usually to keep the cost down. However, since a poorly lit room can kill a good design, I like my lighting to be both functional and inspiring. So, if your light fixtures and lamps are visually underwhelming…you’ve missed a huge opportunity to add “functional personality” into your space. Think of lighting as performance art.

3.) I learned early in my career that not all walls are created equally. So I tend to look for the wall space within a room where I can launch a really big idea. The kind of design statement that not only makes the jaw drop, but one that also gives some personal insight into the lifestyle of the client. If your best wall space is littered with forgettable elements, chances are the room is too.


4.) The most impressive way to change an interior may be right over your head! Ceilings create big design opportunities. Not sure who thought “ceiling white” was inspiring, but the once chic and minimalist statement, has now morphed into an icon representing gutless/default design. You can do better. Paint a color, add molding, and find a way to treat the largest canvas in your room with the respect it deserves.


5.) And lastly, window treatments matter. Time to lose the swag of fabric over the window and invest in a look that is more tailored than toga. There is no better opportunity to finish the look of a room than with the right window treatment. It takes the color, texture and sophistication of an interior to a whole new level.