Paint is a big business. As one paint company's tag line says,..." We cover the world." And paint does just that with the most creative names for the thousands of colors just waiting to escape 1 gallon paint cans and be applied to walls, ceilings and floors.
Several days ago I was talking with a colleague about a certain brand of paint and wondered who establishes the fancy names and how do they come up with such. (After years as an interior designer, I must confess that my favorite color of all time is Benjamin Moore: Oklahoma Wheat. It's what I call a warm sunny neutral. Goes with anything,... followed by Kansas Grain. )
So we contemplated for at least 20 minutes that there must be some very creative word~smithy in the design departments of paint companies who do nothing all day but figure out what to call certain colors,.... like one that looks like a dark chocolate latte with extra cream and a hint of cinnamon. We wondered what would one call the warm red dirt around Sedona, AZ. just after a monsoon rain shower? Or even perhaps the color of a Brazilian tree frog? Well, coincidently....our questions have been answered in an article in the NYTimes. It's an interesting short read and quite insightful. CLICK HERE to read it.
Design Trends: Three Easy Pieces
Design trends come and go and many are interesting to read about. But so much about “design trends” is centered around manufacturers who are introducing new product designs for work and home environemnts. Trends in design for those of us in the interiors profession often find bits of inspiration come from industries such as fashion, the design of vacation retreats such as hotels and spas, even emerging technology - especially with flat panel TVs hanging on every wall in the house. Certainly the trend of “green design” has made an impact with new trendy products being introduced all the time that either reduce the carbon footprint or are made from recycled materials, materials such as plastics, paper and fibers.
But trends do come and do go. So the question is: “How can an interior be created that avoids the trends and yet stays current over a time period?” There are three easy components.
–> Keep it simple.
–> Keep it functional.
–> Keep it authentic.
Design trends of the last five years have showcased interiors that are overdone, overbuilt and feature faux-this and faux-that. But after three decades in the profession to call upon, I can tell you that the best interiors are those that are understated, created carefully over time, assembled with materials that are true to both their function and aesthetic appeal. In addition, design needs to combine and complement all the elements of the built environment.
Frank Lloyd Wright never created a project without considering the design and functional aspects of the structure, the interior and the exterior. Perhaps that is why it is always fascinating to see projects 60 and 80 years old that still seem au courant by today’s standards. He never followed a trend-du jour. He kept to a model that integrated both form and function into a single design statement.
Our design trends for this year are simple: Get back to basics of design. Choose natural fibers for fabric, wall, window and floor coverings like wool, cotton and linen that are not only practical but are ‘green’ by their very nature. Spend the time to define all the design criteria up front. Make a list of the things that are required of the spaces like storage and what activities are planned for the various rooms. Re-use and adapt pieces in new ways. Edit down the number of accessories to only those that have special meaning or have some special value and donate all the rest. And finally, stop with the faux-painting and the faux-finishing. Don’t try to make something look like something that its not.
Top Ten Design Tips: Number 10
#10 Does The Work Ever End?
With many people working from home, even if its just a place to pay the electric bill or check the emails, a home office is more than a luxury. For some its even a necessity. As more people choose to work from home, operate a second business or continue with some type of employment after retirement, a home office has become an important element in design of residential environments. With computers, paper files to keep and books to read, creating a unique and special location that not only provides some privacy, increases the level of concentration and productivity but can provide storage and security of personal documents and records.
In the opinion of this designer, probably the single worst place for a true home office is in the kitchen. But that is often just the location that builders and kitchen planners will attempt to locate one. Despite the lack of privacy and storage, just the functionality of being shoved off to a corner of a kitchen doesn’t say much about the important work that might happen there. Often limited by space and conflict of tasks, try to place a computer, keyboard, printer and fax machine on a desk top that wasn’t made for much more than just a phone, notepad and two cook books.
So if there is no room for a dedicated office space, consider all the other locations where a home office might be placed:
–> a large walk-in closet is perfect for a one-person workspace, just maybe not for two people;
–> clear out that second bedroom that only gets used three times a year,…a much better use of the space, even getting rid of the bed, using a sleeper sofa, perhaps a wall bed for those times when guests stay over;
–> if a more serious space is required, consider converting carving out a space in the garage for a home office;
–> since the dining room is one of the most underused areas in a home, the dining table can be used to stretch out personal papers, set up a lap top with wireless internet activity, perhaps even using the buffet as a place to store + file the paperwork. And after all, how many times do you actually use a formal dining room more than 10 days a year? Making the dining room serve double duty provides a better return on that investment of space.
Next… so now that you have considered options for a potential space,… here are the important considerations to make sure the space becomes an effective space.
• Make sure that you plan for plenty of storage that is close by, perhaps in an adjacent closet.
• Provide for adequate task lighting to match the level of activity.
• Electrical outlets will need to be plentiful since we have to plug in so many things including cellphones and iPods along with everything else.
• Make provisions to file and lock up important papers from prying eyes and nosey visitors.
• When outfitting your workspace, buy the best when it comes to an office chair. After all, one may be spending a good deal of time working from home and the proper chair will provide much needed support.
• And finally, remember the IRS rules for home offices. If you use a portion of your home for business purposes, you may be able to take a home office deduction whether you are self-employed or an employee. Expenses that you may be able to deduct for business use of the home may include the business portion of real estate taxes, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, insurance, depreciation, painting and repairs.
For more information about the IRS’s rules for home offices, go HERE.
So there you have it, the Top Ten Design Tips. Hope you enjoyed the series. Did we miss any? Your comments welcomed.
Top Ten Design Tips: Number 9
#9 Do You Really Need A Designer?
When some people think about re-doing their interior, its often about colors, fabrics, window, wall + floor coverings. It might also include reupholstery on chairs or a new sofa. So who do you turn to avoid a costly mistake with one choice of color or wrong fabric selection? Its easy. Retail furnishing showrooms, specialty decorating shops and even those in the window fashion or flooring business can be one place to start. These types of businesses will often have design-oriented sales staff or interior decorators that can coordinate selections.
But what if there is more involved beyond furniture, fabrics or finishes? Perhaps its a remodeling project that involves the exact location of the building’s mechanical components to ensure adequate electrical lighting next to that new sofa. Maybe there is a desire to create a “spa” type shower, one that incorporates a steam unit, full height glass doors, ventilation, a heated, slip resistant floor and a curbless entry for a barrier-free environment. When planning a suite of professional offices, design considerations might include employee productivity, energy conservation, adherence to local building codes for egress and of course, the bottom line. Then the services and skills sets of an interior designer may be required.
Interior designers are those who by their experience, education and examination are qualified to understand and develop solutions that not only encompass a building’s structure, mechanical components and how such elements influence its intended use but then extend to the “decor” of the space. In certain states such as Florida, New Jersey and Alabama, their boards of professions view interior design as profession affecting the health, safety and welfare of the public and therefore regulate by licensing those individuals who meet state-mandated standards…. standards which are similar in nature to other professions like architecture and home construction are governed.
Interior designers develop solutions in terms of relationships when designing a project. In other words, how the building structure may affect interior accessibility. It might be the specification of appropriate non-toxic materials for the interior finishes in the event the owner or end-user has respiratory or other related health issues. And those relationships not only extend to the spatial use of the environment but also to lighting + electrical, heating, ventilation + air conditioning.
When it comes time to turn to the decor and aesthetics of an interior, designers will use their skills in the selection of colors, fabrics, and furnishings but also look at the built environment in its three dimensions to ensure the scale of furnishings, fixtures and equipment are appropriate to the architecture.
The choice of interior decorator or interior designer should be easy based on the criteria of the project but as important to the project success, find someone who will take the time to fully understand the job objectives, has the skills ( and license ) to develop great solutions and implement a comprehensive plan that will provide the best return on your investment of time and money. Their skills will be time and money well spent to get the most out of the work.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.