Thursday, December 17, 2009

And the colour of the year for 2010 is...

According to those who determine the colour trends of the year, 2010's colour is turquoise. Not a simple colour to work with if you aren't either very brave or experienced with colour work.

Pantone's Turquoise: the "colour of the year" for 2010

Difficulties aside, turquoise makes a great accent colour for a black and white decor, and also for a dark brown and beige decor. It compliments well with various shades of dark blue and with soft yellows too. With some caution, it can be paired quite successfully with pink.

For inspiration to introduce turquoise into your decor, look at the Arts & Crafts movement, most notably motifs by William Morris; Moorish and Mediterranean decor, especially the tiles and inlaid work; and c. 1950's accessories to name a few.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Measure twice, cut once isn't always the solution

It's true that certain renovation or home-improvement tasks are not difficult to do without the help of a pro. Sometimes though, things don't go quite as we expected.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interior design vs. interior decor

It seems that the designer vs. decorator topic is one I have to confront daily. Most recently it was with a decorator; she approached me with two issues: 1) her client hired her to redo the kitchen and she can't do floor plans and other drawings and didn't know how to proceed (she was considering having a big-box hardware store do the kitchen drawings), and 2) she doesn't like the fact that we have to compete at a professional level. Whoa! Back up a minute!!

Maybe I was rude to her. Ok, maybe it was intentional. I asked her what her educational background is. None relevant - she worked in human resources for an automotive company for a few years. I asked her about her professional liability insurance. None; she didn't think she needs it and didn't think that decorators can get any. I asked her about licenses, memberships with professional orders or associations. Again, none. I answered the same questions I asked her then asked her if she really sees herself as my "professional" competition.

The truth is that I have nothing against decorators, and I have employed a couple of them over the years when I have been too involved with design work to be able to also properly handle the decor side of projects. Decorating, or achieving good decor anyway, requires a lot of patience; strong knowledge and understanding of materials, colour theory, and pattern use; a good rapport with local suppliers; respect of clients' budgets; and a good eye combined with common sense mixed with the ability to vary from one's own tastes.

So, no offense meant to decorators in general, but it's important that we all realize and recognize that there are different professionals to hire for different jobs. And yes, some decorators truly are decor professionals. For more on this topic, see my article "Who To Hire" on the Articles page of Idealspace Design's website.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Decoration not required

Sometimes it happens that we lose sight of what really matters, and it takes an usual situation to bring it back to our minds. As an interior designer, my world often feels cluttered with decor items - catalogs arrive routinely from manufacturers of everything from pillows and candles to artificial plants, decorative vases, wall decals, and more. When not in the form of direct mailings, it's in a commercial on television, a flyer included with my morning newspaper, and in every store - even the grocery store has a home decor section.

There's nothing wrong with decorative objects; not only do they serve the purpose of adding some pizazz to a space, but they make such easy gifts. (Don't we all need yet another chrome photo frame? Yes, that's sarcasm.) But there are times when decorating does not benefit a space more than the actual design already has.

Imagine a large L-shaped room with high ceilings, two generously sized windows with a gorgeous view, an en-suite washroom, a bed, a couple of chairs, and a double wardrobe. The decor was simple: off-white walls, and you leave the room not remembering the colour scheme or if there was one. But the room was beautiful in its simplicity. Oddly enough, this room that reminded me how little decorating a space needs if the design can speak for itself was a hospital room. Just goes to show that there's no telling where you'll be when you'll be reminded of what really matters.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Design for entertainment

Recently I had an interesting opportunity that relatively few interior designers can boast of: I was invited to audition for a design/decor show that will air on one of the lifestyle television channels. Being such a variation from my expertise, at first I dismissed the idea without further thought. Weeks later however, I ended up at the audition.

We were 15 at the audition that day. Although there were a couple of carpenters present, the focus was on the production company finding a designer and a design assistant. You would think that the designers would have had things in common. The truth is that from youngest to oldest there was an approximate age difference of 25 years; educational backgrounds ranged from none to Masters degrees; experience ranged from none to 20 years; interests, hobbies, design beliefs and more were as contrasting as black and white.

Seeing that I am not writing that Idealspace Design will be taking the back seat while I design on a television show for an indefinite time period, the position was obviously not given to me. Initially I felt odd because there was no sense of disappointment on my part. The truth is, there are two questions that I had to ask myself: 1) Would I do anything different at the audition if I were to have it to do over? and 2) Did I do my best? The answer to both questions is "no".

The question isn't whether I possess both the skills and charisma to have been able to not only succeed at such a role, but to thrive in it. So what happened? It became an issue of values and compromises that were too great. When the director emphasized that entertainment value was the number one priority and design only ranked at number four on the priority list, I knew that this was not the opportunity for me. As a professional designer, design itself has to be my top priority; I can be entertaining in the conception and execution of my designs, I can be entertaining in my interactions with others involved on any project, but I cannot be an entertainer first and a designer second.

Design almost exclusively for entertainment value can never be good design, can never be realistic, and can never live up to my standards of professionalism. My television is often on HGTV and this experience doesn't change my opinions of the shows and designers I respect, but it reinforces that not all design shows are created equal, and certainly not everyone has the same respect or understanding for the profession that is interior design.