Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thinking Ahead

As you put the finishing touches on your holiday decorating, it is never too early to think of next year. I know, this sounds crazy, but you will thank me for this advice in the end.

Do you drive past homes where you admire their outdoor holiday decorations? Have you been invited to a friend's or neighbor's home for a holiday get together and love what they have done on their dinner table, buffet, centerpiece or in the family room? Have you always yearned for a tree in every room with a different themed collection?

Now is the time to think about what you feel is missing in your home as all the lights, ornaments, and holiday decor will be marked down to extremely low prices! In this market retailers will be looking to clear out their stock to make their numbers for fourth quarter, so get in on the deals!

Special tips: think ahead, it will save you time and money in the long run!

• Look for the outdoor decorations that you dreamed of having - changing from colorful lighting to all white will give you an elegant and sophisticated look! Colorful lights lend themselves to a more whimsical appearance and can be fun and engaging!

• Think about your holiday table settings - do you wish you had wine markers or serving dishes with a holiday theme? Now is the time to get it!

• Don't wait for next year to first think about it, after all, you have to pack up all this years decorations, might as well add to the mix now, and be ready for next year!

• Add a second or third tree to your home - decorate it in a new style - maybe your family room tree is traditional; add a fun whimsical theme in the living room, a French Country or Victorian theme to the kitchen!

For all who celebrate Chanukah, there are great deals for you as well! Great paper goods, beautiful jacquard tablecloths and more. Even though the decorations for this holiday might now be as grand, you can find a bargain on a new menorah, manual and electric, and those unusual candles that are way over priced earlier in the season are probably half priced now!

Let's not forget holiday greeting cards, they are all available now at half the price!

Have fun! Enjoy the Holiday Season and have a Wonderful New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday decorating the easy way!

This time of year we are all so busy shopping and running around to get ready for the holidays. There is a sense of urgency to get the best deal, to be "done" and ready for the season. People feel this need to update their rooms with a fresh look, so their family will oohh and aaahh over how nice everything looks when they gather together. We all want an updated look in our homes, as we spend more time indoors.
Special Tip: give yourself a break! Adding a bouquet of fresh flowers or plant to a room will give it new life!

It is not important to spend a lot of money or time to renovate your home just because company is coming. Rearranging the furniture will give a room a new look and might even lend itself to a better layout for entertaining. I would not take on any large projects, even if they seem easy and small at the time. Painting a room can be the best way to add new life to a room any other time of the year, but for now, it is too much pressure and stress to add onto yourself at a time of year when these emotions run high anyway.

Here are a few ideas:

• Add a new centerpiece to your dinner table, or foyer.

• Make name placards for your guests that follow the theme of your holiday.

• Use silk flowers to make new napkin rings for each setting. This is much easier than you would imagine! Or buy ribbons and tie them around your cloth or paper napkins to follow the holiday color story.

Anything you do to add to the holiday cheer will lighten up your surroundings and give friends and family the sense of warm, inviting atmosphere.

After all, your guests are there to see and celebrate with you....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Beauty of Photoshop

As a designer I have come to love all the tools that are available to me, tools that make designing easier.  The tool I am referring to today is Adobe Photoshop.  This is a computer program that allows you to retouch photographs and images.  It allows me to take a photo of an existing room and retouch ideas. This new image can give the client a visual preview of how their new room could look.  I also use this program when creating catalogs for my company to create unique sell sheets, or to just take reflections out of items we shoot for an ad.  The changes you make and the images you create, can be saved in files to open at a later date and edit or use for print ads, or reference when shopping to finalize a room.  Photoshop allows you to save and reopen your ideas.

Today, as I was preparing for work, putting on my makeup, applying concealer, foundation, shadow, going through my typical morning routine, I felt like I was "photoshopping" my face.  How I go through this same routine every morning.  I then thought how nice it would be if I could "reopen and apply" an already created file titled "Morning Makeup" and it would be done - a saved image.    Then I thought about if you work so hard on a room you love in your home, then move, and want to recreate the same look and feeling in your new home, how nice it would be to open the file and reapply - 

Design; just a click away ....  the ease of application!  Wouldn't that be nice?
Your very own easy button; as quoted by Staples  " that was easy ".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The excitement of new projects!

I recently had the pleasure of receiving a call to inquire about design. A past client shared my name with a realtor whom in turn passed it to her client. I was very excited at the idea of a new project. This family just moved into their dream home and it is a blank canvas, a clean palette for them to do with as they want. The best part is that they have a vision, and I was asked to help validate their ideas and add knowledge to the design questions that came up; color, placement of furniture, removal of existing built in units, flooring, etc.

I have a hard time deciding the best part of working on interior design, the fun and challenge of the project, or the wonderful people I meet!

This day led me to call and reconnect to the original client to thank them for sharing my name and to go back and look again at the work we accomplished together in their home. One thing that I am really lax in, is that once I finish a project, I am so glad that the clients are happy, and so happy myself with how it all came out, I forget to take the after shots! So here I will share with you some shots from this project that I love, and feel added to the flow and feel of this home.

We worked in the kitchen, all the cabinets are new - glazed white cabinets, with a beautiful granite in a rich rust palette. The clients wanted a Tuscany feel to the room. They had purchased brightly colored hanging glass lighting they loved, a little more contemporary than rustic. To tie in the look of old world and the newness of the bright colors I designed a motif for over the stove and back splash incorporating tumbled marble and glass tile. The tumbled marble added texture and interest in a monotone palette without taking away from the granite or the glass tile design.

Here I have shots that show from a distance the cabinets with the tile, center design over the stove, under the hooded range. You can see the smaller motif of the glass tiles in diamond clusters strategically placed around the tile for accents. The next image is a closer shot and the last the close up of the primary design, the 'piece de resistance'. I mixed the glass in a bright rust, to highlight the coloring of the granite and tie into the colors of the bright glass fixtures. The metal tile in the center and frame go back to the hardware on the cabinets and add that rustic feel... a real eclectic mix!

Another fun design detail we used in her home was in putting in a marble foyer, we added a great point of interest; a large marble motif. This is a pre-made tile and is available in many designs. The biggest question for the home owner was placement. The foyer is large, but the entry door is not in the center of the room. This same question arose when addressing the lighting fixture. We carefully chose a chandelier that worked well with the colors and curlicue/swirl design in the marble tile. The placement came naturally - center of the doorway - this is the first thing people would see when they entered the room. We had the contractor place the tile on a diagonal to create flow into the house. The fixture we chose had a dark metal finish, was about the same diameter of the tile on the floor and the size, the height of the fixture filled the window above the doorway, so it could be seem from outside as a real centerpiece.

Just a note for all who love this color... you know I love the Benjamin Moore colors. This one is Waterbury Cream HC-31 - a soft buttercup color. The trim is Atrium White. This combination is great for a soft, elegant atmosphere. It is a great combination and carried nicely into the kitchen, creating a consistent look throughout the downstairs, working with all the colors in in each room.

I love design - it is all in the details, as they come together so perfectly, you can take such pleasure in the little things in life - and in the smiles on the faces of the people in whose homes I have made a difference. Thanks!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What you need to paint your room, yourself!

When writing the last entry, I felt there was so much more to say about the supplies you need before you start to paint a room yourself. So many little tricks I have learned about being "ready". I wanted to share these with you. Some may seem like common sense to most, especially if you have painted before. To others, I think these notes, these TIPS, can save you a lot of heartache.

Sometimes reading is a better way of learning than from experiencing it yourself, learning the hard way is over-rated! What I mean is just knowing to have paper towels and a damp rag in the room can save a lot of trouble. Imagine you are painting a room, you have taken all the steps to tape the ceiling seam and base moldings. You have painted the trim, the area at the corner where the wall meets the ceiling. You are ready to get the roller and do the wall. As you roll, you are humming along to the music you put on (another tip) and the roller touches the ceiling beyond the tape. Now there is a mark of the wall color on your nice white (or whatever color) ceiling. If you didn't have that damp rag, you would be running around, looking frantically for something to use, and by the time you get it, that small amount of paint is dry. Now you will have to re-paint the ceiling! With a damp rag right there, there is no issue! Get off your ladder, take the rag, wipe the paint and viola, it comes off. No one is the wiser.

So, take a look at this list of tools/ supplies that I recommend you have when you start painting a room - who knows, it may save you more time than you think, and make the process more enjoyable!

Blue tape - as I have said before, blue tape is your friend. You should use this on all moldings, around windows and door frames, and base or ceiling moldings. You will need to press down the edge so that paint will not seep underneath the tape.

Trim brush - there are many sold in the paint and large hardware stores. I like to use a 1" or 2" angled brush for trim - it allows me to get into the corner without a mess and allows me a nice clean edge when I dare to cut in with color and not use tape ( you should not try this if you haven't done it before, or you do not have a steady hand.... it is very difficult!) You do not need the most expensive brush on the wall - but the least expensive is not good either, as the cheapest brushes tend to shed bristles and not last very long. Be sure to clean up your brush as soon as you have completed the painting. If you take a break for an hour or less, you can wrap the brush in plastic, but I would recommend cleaning the brush if the break is longer. When using latex, simple soap and water will do. Be sure to get all the paint out of the brush, squeezing it until the water runs clear. This will add to the longevity of the brush.

Drop cloths - most people cannot completely empty a room of furniture to paint - like they do on those great shows on HGTV and TLC - (I love those shows!) It is best to try to get all you can out of the room. The rest, try to get into the center, and be sure to cover with a drop cloth, just for protection of spattering paint. Better safe than sorry here! For the floor, you will want to use a drop cloth that has a plastic side, or thick canvas, so that any drips or spills will not soak thru the cloth to the flooring below. Many people do not think of this until it is too late, and use a simple sheet. This may be ok for the furniture, for spatters from a roller, but not for spills. And don't think they can't happen to you, that would be your first mistake.

Paper towels and damp rag - these are great to have, hopefully not needed, but if you need them, you will be soooo happy you had them handy! These are great to wipe up errors (as dramatized above) or to wipe the paint can after pouring into the roller tray, or to place the brush down in case you need a place, or for wiping each others faces when the paint gets on you!

Brush holder/cup - this is a great tool for when you are painting the trim. It is best to have a handled cup to put paint in for your brush so that you do not have to keep getting up and down the step ladder to re-load your brush. It is also great so that when working with a partner, one can do the trim, and the other can follow behind with the roller - this always makes for a quicker painting experience! This tool can be a used plastic container you once got from the Chinese take-out food, or you can purchase this tool, made especially for this purpose that has a place for the brush built in right next to the cup with a handle.

Step ladder - one with two steps works best for one story rooms - if you are painting a vaulted ceiling or a room with higher than 8' ceilings, you will need a regular ladder. It is best to use a ladder and be right at the area you are painting, than trying to reach. Most times the reaching will be a sure way to make a mistake or get hurt ( by falling off the ladder). Safety is most important when painting or doing any home projects.

Roller handle - when painting walls in the room, the easiest tool to use is the roller. Longer poles are available to attach ( screw into the end of the handle) to the roller handle and many people prefer to use this than get on a ladder. Beware of the end of the long pole when re-loading the roller with paint, as it may knock over some things in the room, or knock into your partner! This is tool you will have, to be able to use again and again, if taken care of.

Roller pads - these are the pads that cover the metal roller on the handle, that hold the paint. There are many types to use. Be sure to buy the one that best matches your circumstances. For example, if you are painting a stucco wall or popcorn ceiling, you need a thick padded roller. The roller pads are identified by the thickness of the pile. If you are unsure, ask the salesperson, whom in most stores is very well educated in the supplies you will need. This is a tool that you will most likely want to replace each time you paint. Cleaning a roller pad is a messy job, and for the cost, I always feel it is best to start new for each job and paint color. Like with the paint brush, you can cover the roller AND tray with the paint if you need to take a break. I would not however, ever take a break in the middle of a wall- get to a corner! When doing 2 or more coats of the same color, you can cover the tray and roller in plastic bags, and return to them later in the day, when the first coat of paint has dried. You can even come back to it the next day, IF it is well covered with plastic to keep the air out.

Roller tray - this is the metal or heavy duty plastic tray that holds the paint. There are different sizes and depths available. Be sure to match up the tray with the roller handle you have purchased. This is tool you will have, to be able to use again and again, if taken care of.

Roller tray liner - you can use these inexpensive liners to eliminate messy clean up. They are not the 'greenest' idea, as you toss them out when you are done, but can save you the mess. Be sure when purchasing the liner the size is the same as the roller tray your purchased.

Paint - this is a given - you have learned all about how to choose your color palette, the types of paint available - now you need to figure out the square footage of the room to determine the amount of paint you need to purchase. The easy way to do this is measure the room - multiply each wall width by it's height, then add all walls together - subtract out the measurements of the doors and windows ( I don't do this step, as I do not think it amount to much for a basic room, and do not want to be caught short on paint, so I leave those numbers in)- this will give you the square footage of the room. Most gallons of paint cover approximately 400 square feet. Be sure to check the labels, they will advise what each brand will cover. Also keep in mind that you may need more than once coat of paint - this was reviewed in an earlier post. The darker the color, the more likely you will need two or more coats; or if you are going over a difficult color with a lighter color... you will definitely need 2 or more coats - keep this in mind when figuring out the amount of paint to purchase.

and last but not least...
Music! You may want to have music to listen to - it can make it a much more enjoyable project!

If you have gotten this far, the rewards are just around the corner - you have invested a lot of time in choosing the color palette, purchased the supplies you need, the music to play and in no time you will have a new and rejuvenated room!

Paint Finishes and Types

OK, so you have decided the look you want, whether you are going to do it yourself or hire a painter - now you have to consider the look you want and the type of paint you want to use. If you decided to hire a professional, they will help you make this decision based on what finish you expressed you want. If you are a do-it- yourself person, then this guide may help you.

The choices have grown in the past few years - not only do you have the basic flat, eggshell or semi gloss; you are now offered a variety of types of paints along with additional finishes of satin, matte, and now you can choose low VOC paints. These are paints that are more environmentally friendly, with lower VOC than "regular" paint.
VOC = Volatile Organic Compounds.

I am going to give you a general list of the paint finishes that are most popular. Most people use flat or eggshell paint, as it is the best known. Take a look to at the brief descriptions to help you decide the best option for your space.

Types of base coat paints

flat- no shine - you can re-touch this paint in the spot that gets dirty without painting the entire wall - so many people like to use flat in high traffic areas. Great for example on a stairway where little hands ( dirty hands) may hold onto the wall on their way up and down. A place that would need touching up on a regular basis. Flat paint finish has come a long way, at one point it was not as scrubbable as eggshell finish and therefore people shy-ed away from using is where it might get dirty, as you could not scrub off the dirt without taking the paint with it. Now most companies offer a scrubbable flat paint.

eggshell- this offers a slight shine, and is the most used finish among my clients. A bit of shine, but not too much. I like to use this paint for most faux finishes.

satin- slightly more shine than eggshell - still used on walls, but also a good choice for furniture or re-finishing cabinets

semi gloss- I always use this on moldings, door frames and doors - easily cleaned, and gives a great look, shiny and polished looking.

gloss- used many times on moldings indoors, and outdoors it is great on entry doors - this is also a great look when doing faux finish striping, as you can use this finish in the same color as an alternate stripe for a classic contemporary look. Great too for painting older bathroom or kitchen cabinets. If taking on a project like that, be sure to clean up the cabinets with TSP and then prime prior to painting.

glaze - used alone or mixed in with paint to extend the working time of latex paint. Glaze adds dimension to specialty faux finishes, will not change the color of the paint when added and, the best benefit is that like latex paint, cleans up with soap and water.

oil based paints - often used by some faux finishing artists as it has a longer working time, allowing the artist to work with the paint, blending for a longer period of time. I find it is the most annoying to clean up, as you need to use mineral spirits ( turpentine) which smells bad and is messy. I prefer glaze over oil anytime!

Whichever finish you choose, be sure to have all the right materials prior to starting any painting job yourself. This would include drop cloths, paint brushes for trim areas and rollers and roller pads for the large wall areas.

Have fun and happy painting!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tricks of the Trade

When I think about designing, it is not always about painting. I have written many entries with reference to color, paint, faux finishes and the like. I feel I have left out a big area, that is DESIGN in general. All the questions I have raised in my earlier posts can be answered using this trick.

What colors should I choose?
How do I choose the right colors for my room?
Where do I start?

SPECIAL TIP: Some of the most experienced designers and decorators do it.... cut out photos! From magazines, old and new or from your family photo albums. Take pictures from anywhere you might find an image that speaks to you, gives you good feelings!

I have saved just about every Architectural Digest, Better Homes and Gardens and many other magazines that I had subscribed to over the years, or just bought on a whim in an airport while traveling. I tear out the pages that I love, the rooms and colors that speak to me, that give me good feelings. I keep them in a file, for reference, or pin them to my bulletin board so I can glance at them and dream. Another great source is to search through the photos you have taken on vacations, places you have traveled that have special meaning.

Think about the deep rich blues of the Caribbean waters, how calming and soothing they made you feel. Or the deep terra-cotta clays of Mexican villages and reds of the floral bushes leading down to the shoreline. How about the great contrast of the white plaster homes to the deep Mediterranean sea in Greece.

You can use these images as a jumping off point!

I worked with clients who did a lot of traveling in Italy and wanted their home to reflect that Tuscany feeling. We used rich colors and re-created a look of a small home, where the plaster had peeled away to expose the brick below. There was a window box of vines and flowers that draped down over this. We painted the walls with a fresco finish and I used plaster to re-create the bricks in a way that looked as though they were under the wall, exposed, as in the photo. Using a silk floral arrangement we were able to complete the look.

Sometimes taking images from your past, or photos from a room you love in a magazine is the best place to start. The colors can inspire you to create a wonderful room that you will enjoy for many years!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tools of the Trade

With every job you do, having the proper tools can make an otherwise difficult job seem easy, or easier than if you don't. Many of the faux finishes have the type of the tool to use right in their name, sponging for example. This can be deceiving.... there are sponges and then there are sponges. I once witnessed a do-it-yourself faux sponging go bad. After making a color choice and choosing the sponging finish technique, a client decided to try the finish on their own. The problem came when interpreting the finish, they used a rectangular kitchen sponge. Now this can be a good tool if you want a geometric hand. Being precise in the placement, keeping the lines even can give you a great look. Using different shades of the same color or analogous colors would be terrific. However, this client wanted a soft touch, monochromatic look. You cannot get this with a rectangular sponge - the edges are too severe. Having the right tool would have created the desired effect.

I am going to give you a list of the tools I suggest for specific faux finishes, some of which you have in your home. You do not need to go out and purchase expensive tool for most faux finishes. Cotton rags for example are great for ragging on/off or for fresco washes. Most of us have old t-shirts, towels and sheets we can cut up that are great for these finishes.

sea sponges - sea sponges are exactly what they are called, sponges from the sea. A great benefit to using a sea sponge is that it has lots of texture, I call them 'stipples'. You can cut them to fit into small spaces and corners. This tool is used in a variety of techniques, sponging being the most popular and well known. I also like to use a sea sponge to add texture at the end of a projcet when doing a wash or marble finish. You can purchase sea sponges in many locations such as most local hardware stores, arts & crafts stores such as Michael's or online.

rags - cotton works best- this can be old t-shirts, towels, old fabrics and sheets. You can buy a bag of rags at Home Depot or Lowe's if you do not have any of the above items. It is best when using cotton rags that you wash and dry them before using to faux. This will get all the pieces of loose threads and lint that may exist off the fabric. You do not want to start a finish and have small deposits of cotton on the walls, this will drive you crazy! Rags are good for ragging paint onto the walls or ragging off. These techniques are exactly as they sound.
Ragging on - applying paint to a rag, lightly, and dabbing it on the wall until the desired amount of color is applied to the wall.
Ragging off - applying paint to the walls, and using a clean rag to dab the walls until the desired amount of paint is left on the wall.
Believe it or not, these finishes look very different from each other.

cellophane- any brand will do, but you need a lot, as this can be a very messy process. I would suggest a garbage pail lined with a garbage bag kept nearby so that as you are done with a sheet, as it is loaded with too much paint, you have a place that is convenient to toss it out, without fussing trying to get it into a garbage bag. This can create a nightmare of a clean up if you try to get the paint covered cellophane into a loose garbage bag. Cellophane creates a texture that can look like the walls are covered in the product itself. You can apply the paint to the walls and then place a long sheet of cellophane on top of the paint, mush it up, ( I know that is not a real word, but I think you know what I mean) create wrinkles in the plastic and then take it off the wall. It will remove some of the paint and leave a unique finish.

paper bags - this is a tool many use like cellophane, but it is not as messy of a finish. You can use supermarket brown shopping bags for this process. Again, you can apply the paint to the walls and with crumpled up bags, press the bag onto the wet painted wall and remove it for a wrinkled look. You can also apply the paint to the wrinkled and folded bag and using the bag, apply the paint to the wall. Make sure the cut the bags into manageable sizes. Another unique finish is to use the bags ripped into smaller pieces, depending on the look you want and using wallpaper glue, put up the ripped pieces, overlapping them on the wall. Then use a glaze, either tinted with color or as is, and apply over the papered wall. This gives you a completely different look than faux finishing using a bag. It is not exactly a faux finish, more like a homemade wallpaper treatment. Unique nonetheless!

woolie- here is a tool that as a professional you should not be without, and as an amateur it will be the best investment you can make! The Woolie is a tool that is available in some stores, or online, as you can see from the link. It has a faux sheepskin texture fabric that is on an easy to use handle. It is easy to clean and comes in two sizes. The smaller tool is great for corners and hard to reach small spaces. Well worth the investment! The Woolie will give you a soft touch finish and can change any flat finish painted room to a muted finish in no time at all. The only tip I have to offer here is to be sure not to load the Woolie with too much paint. You can use the tray supplied in the kit and dip the Woolie in, or, as I prefer, use the tray as a holder for the Woolie and apply the paint to the tool with a brush. This will allow you to control the amount of paint on the tool, and subsequently on the wall.

blue steel blades -a must for venetian plaster finishing. The plaster is applied using these blades and then burnished using the same blades. Be sure to keep the blades clean as the plaster can dry and cause problems by getting into the wet plaster on your walls. Venetian plaster is a very difficult and labor intensive process which can be overwhelming after only thirty minutes of starting, if you are not prepared. I would suggest reading up on this one, searching on YouTube for hints and how-to video before you attempt this process on your own. You can buy the blades at your local big box hardware store, paint store or online at a number of sites. Here are two I have found - doityourself.com OR Plastering Tools- Venetian Plaster and Faux Finish Supplies, Tools and workshops.
I own the symphony blade kit and love it! Three sizes for all spaces!

spackle knife- A basic tool, mainly used for fixing the cracks, pin and nail holes and divets in the walls prior to painting. They can also be used in an artistic way to apply paint to the walls for a different look. Spackle knives come in a variety of sizes and are available at your local hardware stores. It is important to keep the spackle knife clean while working to alleviate the problem of the dry plaster ending up mixed into the wet spackle being applied to the wall. This can cause a problem when the time comes to sand the area, as the dried up piece that got mixed in can crack out and create another divet that will need repair.

artists paint brushes - These come in all different sizes and shapes. Using an artist's brush will allow you to correct problems easily and act as a great tool for finishes like marbleizing and veining. Most arts & craft stores carry a variety of brushes. You do not have to buy the most expensive brush to get the effect you want. I find that Michael's has a great selection of brushes.

paper plates - I know, this is a crazy tool! I feel this is one of the most important tools to have when starting ANY faux finish technique. I use paper plates in many ways, they make great palettes for your paint! They are terrific when you want to dab off the excess paint from the tool you are using, be it a ragg, sponge, or any of the items mentioned above. The best part is that this is an affordable tool and most people have this in their home!

So, there you have it - my list of my favorite tools. Before trying any finish yourself, make test boards using foam core, actual sheet rock or poster board. Test the tools and the finish on a sample board before applying it to your walls to perfect the technique. Place the finished board in the room and look at it in all different lighting to be sure you like the finished product.
The most important tip... have fun with it - after all, it is only paint!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Faux Finishing : "Do-it-yourself" or "let someone do it for you"... that is the question

You need to ask yourself, am I the 'do-it -yourself-er ' or the 'I love it, but want someone else to do it' kind of person -

Whichever type of person you are, faux finishes can add a great customized look to your home and make it unique, a real expression of your style.
Whether you choose to do flat paint or faux the walls, the idea of painting still stands.... it is the easiest, quickest and most of the time, the least expensive way to update a room!

SPECIAL TIPS for the Do-it- Yourself-er:
  • blue tape is your best friend with faux finishing. Always tape the ceiling when doing the walls, right at the corner where the ceiling meets the wall. This will allow you to get into the corners at the ceiling so that there is no white or missed spots - When you see missed spots in a line at the ceiling, it is a sure sign that the faux finish was done by an amateur. Blue tape can also be used to create a unique look, like artwork on the walls.
  • have the right tools, and the right size tools ( this is most important with sponging and ragging, to get into the hard to reach corners for a consistent look!)
  • cut the sponge or rags to different sizes to allow for those hard to reach, smaller spaces, like next to the door frame when it is in the corner.
  • have different styles of paint brushes, those used in fine painting come in very handy for veining, when doing a marble finish and for just touching up color into corners that are difficult to get to. If the paint peels off the wall when you are taking down the blue tape a small paint brush can be used to touch in the original color. ( I am sorry to say that this sometimes happens!)
When considering doing the work yourself, the question to ask is how much time do I have, am I willing to take the risk of trying something new, am I willing to get my hands ( and clothes) dirty?

SPECIAL TIPS to consider when hiring a faux finish artist:
  • talk to your friends, whose home have you seen a finish you love. Get recommendations of painters they have used. Collect a few names. Local paint stores may also be a great source in finding a painter.
  • set up a consultation with the artist, review their portfolio, ask for references, and understand how they conduct their practice.
  • understand how the artist will charge you. many faux finishers charge differently for their work. Some may charge a consultation fee to help you choose the color palette and then a fee for the actual painting; others may give you a flat rate for a room. Some charge for the paint, others include it in the flat rate. It is best to have this understanding up front.
  • ask if they will provide 'sample boards' of the finishes they are recommending, in the colors you have chosen. This is important, as they may have a sample board of what a wash or ragged off finish looks like, but once you determine the "style" of finish, (the technique that you like) and the colors you want to use, you should receive a sample of that finish, in your colors. Remember to place the sample board in the room and look at it during all different times of the day and night to see how it reacts to your lighting. You can always ask your painter to lighten or darken up the finish depending on how your want the room to feel.

Hiring a professional is definitely the easier way to get the finish you want, and to have total control. Be prepared, it can cost you - faux finishers are artists after all, and the finish they create is a work of art that will make your home unique!

Whatever you decide about just who does the work, be careful with faux finishes, you can overdo it! You want the flow of your home to work. When each room complements the other it creates a harmonious feeling. You do not want to create an atmosphere where every room is faux painted because it can become too busy. The colors and techniques of the adjacent and visible rooms (rooms within eye shot) must be considered when making these choices. Whether you are redecorating your entire home or just one room, the best way to decide if the colors you are choosing for each room work together is to make a color scheme for your home on paper using paint chips on one palette. This will give you the visual picture of each room and how the colors all look together.

These are great tips to consider when determining if you want to take on the project yourself, or hire a faux finish artist. Faux finishing adds a unique appearance, one that is exclusive to you and your home. As the colors and technique used are as different as snowflakes!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Faux Painting and it's Benefits

I love faux painting on so many levels!

Faux painting is one of my acquired skills - I have done so many rooms and finishes that I can comfortably explain each technique. Some are easier than others, some are more expensive processes and more time consuming. If hiring a professional to faux paint for you, understanding the time involved in each process will help you understand the costs and charges involved. In addition, there are some great books I can recommend for the do-it-yourselfer to purchase and web sites that can help as well. I hope to be able to describe the finishes so you can have an idea of what the finish can look like and what room it may best compliment in your home. This topic in itself is so massive, it deserves it's own entry- actually,more than one! Each finish has it's own look, style and time constraints that as I move deeper into this log that I blog, I will try to address them all. For now, let me just tell you the benefits of faux painting as I see it.

The Benefits of Faux Painting

1. it covers a multitude of sins on your walls
2. it adds depth and dimension to a smaller room, allowing the walls to act as your artwork
3. there are so many different techniques that you can use, which helps make each room look different, giving the room it's own personality or feeling.

There is a multitude of faux finishes available. I will share a few of my favorites in each entry - I will also make available a list of books and web sites I would recommend if you are interested in learning to faux paint yourself. I am going to try to give you some of my insights about the finishes, as well as tips I found helpful.

The most important lesson to learn as a do-it-yourselfer, is that blue tape is your best friend!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Changing the Color of Your Room with Paint

Let's address flat finish painting - I call this flat painting - not to be confused with the use of the flat finish, the base of paint - you can use a flat finish base paint (which is matte- no shine), but there are many types of base coats available in paint - I will address this as another topic - there is just so much to write about, and lots of entries to look forward to!

Flat painting is where you choose a color and repaint the room- basically changing the color of a room. It is a finish where you use one color on a wall - in most cases the entire room is painted the same color, but you can get fancy and choose an accent wall to paint a coordinating color or faux finish to spice things up a bit.

For straight flat painting, here is a list of things to consider on how, where and whether to best use this technique -

• Flat painting will give you a clean new look- I would suggest priming first so the true color you choose is what you get. See my suggested experiment to better understand how working with a clean white surface helps bring the true color out.
• The most important thing about painting the room in one color, with no faux finish, is that the walls look best when they are prepped properly.
• Properly prepping the walls entails spackling and sanding - many people like to hire a painter to address this as it is time consuming and messy! If your walls are in bad shape, lots of pock marks, divets or clearly uneven, you may want to consider a faux finish, as it can hide a lot of imperfections.
• This is the time to fix the cracks that have appeared above the door frames or any damage that has been done to the walls over the course of time.

Steps for painting:

1. first take everything out of the room; pictures off the walls, nails out, etc.

2. then take a clean spackle knife and go over every hole, ding or chip in the walls - be sure to smooth over the spackle with the knife to make it flat

3. when it is completely dry - really dry,( or it will come up - trust me, I learned from trying to rush this part)... use fine grit sandpaper and sand the areas spackled and the wall surrounding it to make it even.

4. now you should prime the walls, as the areas with spackle will take the color paint differently than the base wall - so prime the walls.

5. after the walls are dry, you can paint with the chosen color. Be sure to stir the paint thoroughly!

• you can have the local paint store tint your primer with a color close to the one you want to use, this will make painting with your final color easier and give you better coverage.

When you chose to use the tinted primer, then you may only need one coat of your new color, if it is a lighter shade. If you are using a dark color, you will need two coats for a pure color, and possibly three ( reds, browns and deep blues usually take 3 coats to get it to look even). I know this sounds like a pain, but trust me, the color will be even and pure.

• if a room will need more than one gallon, and less than 5 gallons (the two sizes most brands are available) buy a larger bucket with a lid and mix the paint to avoid any dye lot issues ( color differences)- you do not want to get to the fourth wall, open a new can of paint and realize that the color is off by a hair -

• if you get tired of painting and have not finished the room, be sure to end in a corner. You should cover the paint tray in plastic - a white garbage bag will work - push the plastic down into the tray, over the roller, so that it touches and cannot dry out. Be sure to wrap the plastic bag around the tray so that no air can get in. It is best to use this when you plan to return to work within a few hours. If you will not get back to it for days, then it is best to clean up the tray and roller to use fresh another day. Be sure to close the paint can tightly so no air can get in and oxidize the paint, this will result in a slight change of color. A paint brush used for trimming out the room should be cleaned when you are done, unless it will be a short time (an hour or less) that you will return to paint with that brush again.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful!

Flat finish painting is a typical look used for classic and traditional decor. When paired with white moldings, this can be a very upscale and elegant finish. Great for Georgian homes, country classic, and colonial styles. Straight painting, or flat painting can also be used in a contemporary genre and many other styles of furnishing.

It is all about the colors you choose and the furnishings in the room!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Open Canvas - Painting styles

There are so many ways to paint a room. Some people like to use rollers, which come in different sizes, professional painters have the tools to spray the walls with color - I am not really talking about the tools you would use, but the styles of painting.

When I think about painting a room there are two basic ideas or styles:
1. flat finish paint - (not to be confused with the base of paint; flat, eggshell, semi gloss, etc) I am talking about flat painting; applying paint in a single color to the wall. You can use a different color on an accent wall, but pretty much this is the use of one color on a wall.

2. faux finish painting- applying paint in more than one color to the wall. You can use two or more colors, sometimes mixed with glaze, to give a dimensional appearance. This is where understanding tints and shades will really come in handy.

Within the category of faux finishing there are so many finishes or decorative ways to apply paint to your walls.

Here are few faux finishes that you may be familiar with:

• sponging
• ragging on
• ragging off
• cellophane
• tissue finish
• venetian plaster ( one of my favorites, but the hardest and most time consuming to do)
• glazing
• stippling
• striping
• marbleizing

...the list goes on and on.

Within all these techniques, there are the various tools you can use and styles each painter has that can make each type of finish look so different. Tools, as mentioned above, can be extreme and expensive like the "professional" tools sold in stores, OR the make shift tools that you find in your home. Sometimes the best tools are the ones you have in your house. You do not need to spend a lot of money on tools to get a professional faux finished look, only to learn a few shortcuts and rules to apply when doing it yourself. I will cover tools I have found helpful for finishes in another entry, as this could be a tangent that would be hard to return from!

How do I know what colors look best in my house? What color should I put in the dining room, or the living room? Should I use flat painting or faux finish?

Each style of painting whether you choose to give your room a flat finish or a faux finish, can work in many different environments, with many different decors. Some work better than others - for example, when using a chair rail, you can mix the two styles; flat finish painting on the top section with faux finish on the bottom portion of the wall is a great compromise when you can't decide what to do. This is a good look for a French Country decor in particular. It can also work with other styles of decorating. With the right color combinations, this can be applied to almost any style.

The questions that seem to come up most often are how do I know which I will like, what would look best in the room?

SPECIAL TIP: I suggest you use the experiments ( one for learning about tints and one for understanding pure colors) that I have posted in past entries for color choices. By painting a board in the colors you like and placing them in the room, you will get a better feel for what looks best. Look at these sample boards at all different times of the day, so you can see how the colors will look with the different lighting in the room; morning light, daylight or at night when the lamps are on.

Which you choose to use is all about the feeling you want to get in the room you are decorating.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dawn's Favorite Dozen

I have been asked to choose my favorite paint colors, and as I pondered the answer, I found myself going thru my fan deck of paint colors. As I picked one of my favorites, there was another right behind it, and another - how can you pick only a few and leave the rest out? Well, here is a list of my all time favorites - some colors that I find I use time and time again, have recommended for clients and just love! Some speak to their ability to go with anything, as a neutral. Others make me feel warm and add a touch of color without being too dark or light.

One of the many things to remember is that it is important when choosing a color for your room that you consider the lighting in the room, the adjacent room colors, the furnishings in the room and most importantly, how that color makes you feel!

Here is the list I came up with ( all chosen from my Benjamin Moore Color Preview fan deck):

Roxbury Caramel - HC-42 - a warm caramel color, just as it sounds - with the right lighting, this color can be just great - I used this in a Home Textiles showroom, and even with all the various colors of the bedding, it works with all of them!

Abbington Putty - HC-99- a soft green, with an olive cast. Dark enough to make a difference, but not too dark for those faint of heart when it comes to adding color to the room.

Desert Tan - 2153-50 - a true gold - great with burgundy, greens, navy - if you have dark furnishings ( carpets, sofa, decorative accessories) this color will act as a neutral and warm up the space without taking away from the existing colors

Putnam Ivory - HC-39 - this is the color I think of when someone says they want their walls to be "khaki" like the color of the menswear pants that most every man in America owns!

Carrington Beige- HC-93 - this too can be called khaki, or light tan - this is good when Putnam is a touch too yellow- Carrington has a touch of green in it.

Beacon Grey - 2128-60 - this is a blue, with grey undertones - a cool color without being too strong

Mellowed Ivory - 2149-50 - not an ivory or cream color at all! This is a soft mellow shade of green, with hints of lime - a mellow green with a touch of yellow - soft and easy on the eyes.

Muslin - OC-5 - a soft , soft tan. This is a great color for someone who is used to white, but ready to make the commitment to color, but not too much color.

Newburyport Blue - HC- 155 - I love this color, it is deep, dark and makes a statement - a great accent wall - love it mixed with any of the khaki colors mentioned above, or with the next color...

Huntington Beige - HC-21 - a medium toned tan - warm yet neutral - this is also a great color for the main room with an accent wall as mentioned above or with a deep burgundy...

New London Burgundy - HC -61 - a deep, rich burgundy, like your favorite Merlot. Not a color I have used often, as many people are afraid of going this dark - I can tell you, most of the time, this will take three coats to get the color perfect.

Hot Apple Spice - 2005-20 - another rich red, more of a brick tone. A good alternative to a burgundy if you like deep rich colors that lean on the side of nature.

Simply White - OC-117 - a great trim color for doors, door frames, crown, chair-rail and base moldings. A true white without being a hospital white - but then again;
white is a state of mind!

So that is it, my favorite dozen - I apologize to all of the colors that did not make this list - after all, it took me forever to narrow it down, so many colors to choose from! So to the reader who asks "how do I choose the right color?" I would say take a paint fan deck, and sit in the room you are considering, spread the deck out, with all the items from the room right there in front of you and choose the one that best compliments them, the one that feels right!
After all, it is only paint!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A New Coat for your Room - Paint!

I feel painting a room is the best way to give a room a new look, a facelift, or "room lift" . It is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and spend some time doing it yourself. You do not even need to change the furniture, accessories or items in a room to make it look new - just choose an accent color and paint it on the walls!
Many people are usually afraid of using colors when painting walls... my brother is one of those people - afraid of the commitment to a color, that it won't look as good in their home as it did in the store or at a friend's home (or maybe just afraid that he'd have to repaint it again). Most people like to play it 'safe' with some form of white or a color that is "hardly a color"... but then they go to a family member's or a neighbor's house, where a 'real color' was used, and they think "wow! that looks great!".

I like to make comparisons with home decorating and how your dress. Think about apparel and use your experiences with how you might spruce up an outfit for a special occasion when thinking about adding color to a room. A bright scarf, (or tie if you are a man) or an outstanding piece of jewelry would accent your outfit - a pop of gold, red or green. The same goes for a room - if you love a color that does not exist in your home accessories, but always wanted it in your room, determine the right shade for your walls and buy a home accessory, like a picture frame, or silk flower arrangement to pop the color - Like buying a new coat; bright red or yellow, when you always have owned black!

Don't be afraid, it's only paint, take the time to try it!

SPECIAL TIP: when re-doing a room by changing the color of the walls, It is best to start fresh, and that would bring us back to WHITE. No matter what color the walls are when you are making this change, you will get the most pure color when you base coat your walls with white.

Here is an experiment you can try:

1. take a foam core board (you can buy this at a local art or craft store) , or a piece of white sheet rock (available in your home construction or hardware store)
2. paint it the existing color in the room, say it is gold, or blue
3. paint a second piece with white.
4. when both are dry, paint the new room color you have chosen on both boards

– the one painted on the white board will be truer to the color on the paint chip from the store than the one painted over the existing room color.

If you are one of those people that need to visually see the color on the wall, take a trip over to Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen or Restoration Hardware. These retailers use paint colors in each section or room display of their store and have labels that identify the color on the walls. This can be very helpful when looking at small chips seems too tedious and difficult to picture in your home. If this still doesn't work for you, purchase the sample paints ( Benjamin Moore's samples cover a 2' x 2' area) or a quart of the color you like and try it in your room.

The important thing is to have fun and find a color that speaks to you, to the feeling you want when you spend time in that room.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Technical Aspect of Color

Technical people are well aware of these terms, as are graphics and industry print houses. Many of us are not exposed to this information, but may know all this without realizing we know it, just from owning everyday items such as ink jet color printers, or digital cameras. It is always nice to learn that you know more than you thought!

A tid-bit of more information than you need, but interesting none-the- less:

In photography they call the main colors on the color wheel RGB; red, green and blue. When you take a digital photo and bring it in to be printed, this may be the format that the camera used to digitize the image. There is another format called CMYK which in essence is the same thing, only different. A lesson for another day, but in summary, it is Cyan ( which is blue) Magenta ( which is a form of red) Yellow and Black. Many desktop ink jet printers we own in our homes have this type of color ink cartridge, so you may be familiar with the terminology.

Not terribly important information, but I wanted to give you an idea of how this is information you know, but in different terms.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Temperature of Colors

As you can tell from my entries, I feel strongly about colors evoking emotions. All colors can be rated, or looked at as temperatures.

Cool colors have a calming affect on us. You often see these colors used in spas and medical offices. I know when I go into a spa and the rooms are painted in a soft "spa" blue and aqua (in the palest of tints), I feel relaxed, and feel I can take a deep breath. This reminds me of vacationing in the islands, when the water is so blue and clear and the sand is so soft!
Warm colors are passionate, and can make a powerful statement in a room. Warm colors are often seen in restaurants and coffee houses. Many restaurants want you to feel cozy in their facility, so they do this by adding warm colors to heat up the atmosphere. I think of great Italian restaurants with homemade tastes, and smells of fresh tomato sauces. This gives me a welcoming feeling. Warm colors can be very inviting.

This will help understand the value of colors ( look back at the color wheel graphic for an easy view) :
- Reds - warm color
- Oranges - warm color
- Yellows - warm color
- Browns - warm color
- Blues - cool color
- Violets ( also called Purple) - cool color
- Greens - cool color

Look at this information in another way, how colors are in your life; as a woman with makeup or clothing, or a man with a tie, or a sport shirt. Many industries are reliant on color. Here is an everyday item that is a good example; cosmetic companies want you to feel good about yourself. Red lipstick or nailpolish makes you feel sexy. Cosmetics make use of so many colors; in eye shadows, blushes, liners, nail polishes, and lipsticks to name a few. People identify with color to make them feel warm, to lighten or brighten, or to soothe or cool them.

Color engages you – in your wardrobe, in the colors you choose to wear as your makeup, your hair, even the color of your car, the flowers you plant inside or outside your home.
- color surrounds us!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Choosing the right color scheme for you!

Color schemes are applied when picking paints,fabrics, and furnishings for your home, and in so many everyday things. For example, how you choose to coordinate your clothing, ( a shirt with a tie, a skirt with a blouse) your eye shadow colors, even when cooking, adding that touch of green or orange to the plate for a more palatable entreƩ. Then in your home, coordinating carpet, fabrics and wall colors! You are all scheming when doing these everyday things.

When I work with clients on a one room project, I like to set a color scheme for the room, placing the colors of the existing furniture and rugs from that room on a palette. You can do this by taping or glueing paint chips (from the paint store) on a paper. Then add colors that accent what is existing in that room, until you find the right combination. When looking at trying to give the entire house a fresh look, paint is the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this. This same exercise works; take colors from each room on one palette and look at how they work together to be sure they have a harmonious feeling; no clashing colors. This is one way to come up with a feeling of continuity in your home, where one room can flow into the other.

As you know, I like Ben Moore paints, and they as a company have taken a step to making it easier to choose paint colors for your home. Their web site is a great source, plus they partnered with Pottery Barn to create a palette that works best with the fabrics and lifestyle themes that are offered in their collection. Pottery Barn makes note of these colors in their catalog and you can even order a mini paint deck for color reference. Ethan Allen showrooms also make reference in their vignettes to the Benjanim Moore color that their designer chose to best coordinate with the fabrics and furniture selection in each display. It is usually posted on the wall at the entrance to the display room. The nice thing about this is when you are browsing these locations, you can see how paint colors look on a wall, in a large scale ( as opposed to the tiny paint chips that you get at the store), and it helps you 'picture' how it can look in your home.

There are many thoughts on color – what color to use? Will a dark color make a room warmer? Will it make the room look smaller? There are no wrong answers here (ok, maybe there are some wrong answers... ) , but there are so many schools of thought – don't be afraid to try a color on a wall. If you fear it will be too strong, pick one accent wall to use the 'scary color', and use a softer tone ( as you learned from an earlier post, a tint of that color - for a monochromatic effect) of that same color on the other walls, to coordinate with it. You may just surprise yourself!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Understanding Monochromatic Colors

- one color, so many possibilities!

There is a fun experiment to try to get a better understanding of monochromatic colors - this will come in handy when trying a do-it-yourself project such as faux painting.
When choosing colors for a faux finish, I often like to use monochromatic colors as they give you great depth and definition.

Here is an experiment you can try:

First you need some supplies and tools;
• plastic containers ( the ones from take out Chinese work the best)- you will need two
• a few plastic spoons (one for the base color, one for white, one for black and two for mixing - so a total of four would be advised)
• acrylic paints from the craft store work best for this experiment - not the kind in the tubes, they are quite expensive - buy the kind that are used for stenciling, in the plastic containers.
• Pick one base color ( let's say blue)
• also buy a white and a black container of paint

** you can use the latex paints, like the sample colors you are thinking about for the room, if you have them picked out already - but this is just an experiment to give you some experience with tints and shades. Benjamin Moore offers some of their paint collection in sample size containers, which is very helpful when choosing colors for your room.

Now time for the fun!

• Take the two empty containers - be sure they are clean
• Put a few plastic spoonfuls of your base color into each of the two containers
• Add one spoonful white in one container to the original for the lighter version. As you add more white (by the spoonful), you will stir the paint, and see that the color gets lighter -If working with a blue base, the color will start to look like a sky blue, the more white you add.
• In the second container add black to the base color for a darker shade of this color, stir the colors so they are well mixed and you will get a darker shade of the original base - again if working with blue as the base, it will turn to more of a navy blue.
** be careful when adding black as the colors get darker much faster than they got lighter with the addition of white.

When using this experiment for a room where you already picked the color, you should keep track of the formula you have created.
For example: if 3 spoonfuls of your base and 1 spoonful of white bring you to the color you like for the monochromatic palette, then when mixing the larger quantities of paint, you can use this as your formula - 3 to 1 - apply this to quarts - one quart of white to 3 quarts of the base, or on a larger scale in gallons
- it is important to read the labels of the paint to see what kind of coverage you are expected to get, to know how much paint is needed in a room.

Now you have created your monochromatic palette for painting the room. Mixing paints like this is a great exercise in understanding how to create a palette, especially if you are planning to attempt faux painting in the future. Look for more about faux painting in future entries.

Color Schemes

Colors can be combined in many different ways. That's what a color scheme is - any combination of colors. There are four different types of color schemes that you can take advantage of, whether choosing paints or fabrics for your home (or any colors that affect your everyday, such as clothing or make-up).

Let me give you a summary of each color scheme:

Monochromatic- one color along with the tints ( lighter versions) and shades (darker versions) of this one color
Complementary- colors that are opposite on the color wheel - like blue and orange - they work well with each other, whether in the pure state or using tints or shades of each color. Using a complimetary color scheme offers great contrast.
Split complimentary- This is similar to complementary colors in that you use colors that are in contrast with eachother - but here you use two opposites. So for example, if you choose to use blue as your main color in the room, then compliment it with orange/red and orange/ yellow ( or tints or shades of these colors).
Analogous - using colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel; like orange and yellow or blue with green - and all the shades and tints in between the two. This creates a soft palette, a very peaceful color story.

The most popular in my experience are the first two; Monochromatic and Complementary. These are the easiest to understand and from what I have seen, shown the most in decorative home magazines.
When trying to create a monochromatic color story in your room you can choose shades and tints of one color. Take a look back at the color wheel illustration from my earlier post to help you visualize the different schemes. Choose the colors that you like, and see what combinations best suit you.

This is the point in time that most will then ask... where do I start? paint colors? fabrics? furniture?
I say it all depends on what project you are working on, an existing room that needs a "room lift" ? or a brand new space. Obviously if it is a renovation, you need to look at what exists in the room that is not leaving... that you will not replace. Sometimes this makes it easier to pick your paint color palette as you have items that you need to match. For the case that you are starting from scratch, you have the luxury of a clean palette!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Colors make the world go round, like a wheel; a color wheel

As you learned from my earlier post I think it is important that a room speak to you, speak of your mood, and how you want to feel in that room. Colors can make you feel many different emotions; blue as many know is a cool color, one that can soothe you and depending on the shade, can give a room a refreshing feel. Red, a primary color, is a warm, passionate color. I am going to try to help explain all the terms you hear; primary colors, hues, tints, shades, monochromatic schemes and more. Understanding these terms can effect the colors you choose in your home.

Here is a quick lesson in color;
There are three primary colors on the color wheel that make up all other colors;
Red, Blue and Yellow, all are located evenly around a circle, a color wheel.

We all learned this in kindergarten, they do say we learned all we need to know there, so why not this. Remember finger painting? and mixing red with blue to get purple, or yellow with red to produce orange? The main concept is that these three primary colors, when mixed with each other, form secondary colors, when mixed further they make up tertiary colors; all of these colors make up the wonderful spectrum in a coloring box, or now as grown-ups, we more likely think of them as the colors in the paint store.

Quick Color Guide:
Primary colors; red, yellow and blue
Secondary colors; orange, green and purple
Tertiary colors; red/orange, yellow/orange, blue/ green, yellow/ green, blue/violet, red/violet

The primary and secondary colors are hues; pure colors.
• Adding white to any of these colors creates a tint, making the color lighter. For example adding white to red, makes pink.
• Adding black creates a shade, a darker version of the color. For example adding black to green can make it hunter green.
Here is an example using blue as the pure color

There is so much to know about color technically, but don't get blogged down with the details. For you, in your home, you need to decide what colors you like, and then once you have an idea of how you want to feel in a room and the colors you like, you have a jumping off point!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

White is a State of Mind

It all starts with color - colors can affect how you feel, and after all, your home and surroundings should make you feel good, it should be your sanctuary. I believe that when we talk about color, we need to start with light, which would bring us to WHITE. I have a theory, I believe that “white is a state of mind”.

Take a look in any paint fan deck, no matter what brand; there are over 10 whites alone! Let's look at one of my favorite brands, Benjamin Moore- they offer "subtle nuances of white" in their white dove, super white, decorators white, atrium white, white, antique white, linen white, china white and that is just to name a few. They have an entire White and Off-White collection of 140 soft hues with a wide range of whites and off whites. Some are pure white, some have a touch of grey ( Jerry Garcia would love that!), some have peach undertones, or blue. I remember when taking a photography class, one of the assignments was to shoot white eggs on a white background. This meant understanding light, and how to use it - depending on the shadows you would have shades of peach, grey and blue. Now I understand that white is light. It adds a lift and can reflect all the other colors in a room.

Another favorite paint brand for your home is the Donald Kaufman Color Collection. I have found that not many people outside of the design trade know of him. He uses over 12 pigments when mixing his colors. To me he qualifies as designer paint. "The Donald Kaufman Color Collection is known in the decorating trade as the ultimate in designer paint" quoted from The Washington Post, on the Donald Kaufman web site. He offers a beautiful palette, with illuminous colors, ones that add light to your walls. Donald Kaufman's white collection contains 18 different values of white, and they "never add oxides because they diminish the ability of paint to reflect light".

Adding white to a color, any color, cannot only make it lighter, it can make it brighter. White is a wonderful accent for any room. I love to use it on moldings, doors and door frames. When you put it next to a chosen color for the walls, it pops! White gives freshness to a room. White moldings define the parameters of a room – the same white molding throughout a home can be the one color that ties the home together. You can use dark colors in some rooms and light colors in another, but when all the moldings and doors are the same white, it creates continuity throughout the house.

Next time you are in a paint store, browse thru the fan deck to see the possibilities offered in what we call 'white' . I think it will bring a smile to your face after reading this.
The best way to choose which one to use is to determine the feeling you want to have in your home and the colors you may want to surround yourself with. Do you want a pure white or a touch of color? Then choose a white that is most reflective of that!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Welcome to my blog

Who am I? I often wonder myself...
My career has spanned so many different areas, but all had to do with design, in one form or another - being able to see what to do next - in an organizational way as well as trend setting/ forecasting for my positions. I have been able to apply my 'eye' and my knack for color and design to all of the different positions I have had.

For as long as I can remember I have loved design – even when I didn’t know that’s what it was….. I loved coloring, painting and just creating. Throughout school I tried all different forms of art from the basic classes required, to the more technical like photography. I loved to play with light, color to see how different combinations made me feel.On a dreary day bright colors can make you feel happy, brighten your day. Color can be illuminating! As on a cold day, warm colors like reds and browns can make you feel cozy. In college my favorite classes were the three hour art labs, where you would just sit and work, create and learn about art; what it was about, how you can manipulate shapes, light and color to look differently, to create a harmony. Now in my career I am most happy when I am creating; a room for a family, a bedding set design, packaging or showroom design for my employer, or yet another room design in my home. My daughters know that I live to design, so they always want their room renovated, repainted and redone. I will be posting many images of our re-dos for you to see - from little girl to teen, to college adult.

I have always had an eye for design. It seems to come easy to me, at least that is what my family, friends, employers and clients have said. When working on an interior design, I like to understand the person whose home it is, and what they love before I suggest colors or ideas, so that it fits who they are. I do not feel design should define who you are, rather, it is you and your feelings that should define how you design a room; your home. It is important to identify what a room is going to be used for, what your lifestyle is and try to address the needs of each room individually as well as a part of a whole. What are you going to be doing in this room? Who will be using this room? Will it be used to entertain, to relax, to read or to get away from the everyday stresses that life can bring.

To me, although a large budget (and the funds to back it) is always a plus, I have always believed that it is not about what you spend on room, but how you arrange it, what goes into it… from what you own, and what you add to it – you do not always need to spend a lot of money to make a room what you want, or to give you the feeling you want when you spend time in that room.

During my career I have always been involved in design; apparel, interiors, home textiles and gift ware. I believe a person is influenced by their feelings. People reflect their feelings about themselves and their mood at times with how they dress, the colors they choose to wear. Although for many years the apparel business led the fashion world and determined the colors that we would then see months or a year later for our homes, I feel that these two worlds work more simultaneously now than they ever did before. People will fall in love with a scarf, or a leather shoe, and now they want these colors to surround them in their home as well.

There are so many options for your home, many people ask where do I start? I'm going to try on this site to help you with that.... where to start... how to achieve your goals... where to buy great items... how to buy... what to buy... what to look for... how to experiment... questions to ask when hiring a contractor, painter or designer. I hope to shed a little light and some color into your day!