The week is over, and so is this wildly unpopular series of posts titled Design 101. At least I can head into the weekend without feeling like a quitter. Silver Lining, I guess, but choosing the proper shade of silver is soooooo hard.
Are the right undertones for a total blog failure blue or green? Potato, potato. Nope. That would be White Wheat with Totally Tan trim, accompanied by Cheddar and Bacon accents. What? No one has named a paint color after cheese or pork? I’m on it, like White Umber on Rice Paper.
Let’s slap some Daredevil lipstick on this Smoky Salmon pig and put us both out of our misery!
In her defense, blue can be difficult to get right and testing it in the room it will be used in is essential. A grayed down version probably would’ve worked out fine. Paint companies have made it so easy for you to find the right color before you make a mess that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of what they have to offer. I’m sure you’ve heard about the availability of small quantities of paint, but did you know you can get 8 1/2″ x 11″ samples through your designer or architect? You can. Tape them up and live with them for a few days. No muss, no fuss, and no chalky Smurf poop.
There are many occasions when some shade of white is the right answer for trim. If you have elaborate, highly detailed trim molding don’t you want to show it off? I would. On the flip side, there are rooms that can handle colorful trim work beautifully, so feel free to paint to your hearts content.
The advice I offer you here is a note of practicality: It’s very easy and relatively inexpensive to change up the color of your walls. Trim is much more detailed and labor intensive, so therefore more expensive. If you like to play with color and mix things up on a regular basis, keep your trim a neutral shade of white with no obvious undertones.
Whoops! Did I not mention that most whites have undertones of other colors? They do. Be sure to do test runs on trim paint too. Keep in mind that a high gloss is going to read differently than a semi- gloss or lower sheen finish.
If you have any doubts at all, take a spin around any designer’s portfolio or Pinterest boards. Painted trim, doors, and casework are everywhere. If done properly, black can really make a fresh, clean, bold statement. Personally, I love to mix dark hardwood floors with black baseboards. It pushes the visual boundaries of the room out a little further and adds a touch of drama, without being dramatic.
Unlike me. I’ve been very dramatic in this final installment of Design 101, haven’t I? Maybe a little bit of painted drama would spruce the old blog up, too. I’m thinking of adding an all male production of Steel Magnolias. It might be fun. Heaven knows the set design would be to die for!
I know it’s easy to sit back and offer up critique from the cheap seats. There is a reason House Beautiful sought out these designers for their secrets, while my phone didn’t sound out a ring or a ding. They are good at what they do. Some of them are divas; some are dirtbags, but most are quite delightful. In my opinion, the best designers don’t force their will on clients, they work with them.
I heard a famous and very talented fellow openly describe his business practices and fee structures to a room full of eager young things recently. The big dogs don’t usually share that kind of information. During the Q&A, one lovely asked how he would adjust a design plan if he and his clients didn’t see every element eye-to-eye. He said he wouldn’t. They do it his way, or he’s out. Mind you, he walks away with his full retainer. I know what it is now. My jaw hit the floor when I found out.
Your house should look and feel like you. If you come across a designer’s work that speaks to you, hire them. They don’t need to live where you do in order to be effective, you just need to be able to communicate your needs and wants. They need to listen. Whether you prefer a hands off, turn-key approach or want be heavily involved in the minutiae of the plan, if someone’s secrets, suggestions or rules don’t feel right to you, know that it’s okay to call a timeout.
Catch your breath. Call bull$h!t. Reboot. Repaint. Reupholster. Rejoice! Design 101 is over!