Four interior designers share their thoughts on how to spruce up your home
I’ve been a Designer with Ethan Allen for a total of 18 years. The great thing about working for EA is the loyalty of our clients! I have clients that I have worked with since my early days with EA when we were on Forest Drive and that was over 30 years ago! We offer investment quality classic furnishings that we still manufacture in our own plants. Our Professional Design Service comes at no charge to our clients. Our clients trust our quality service and expertise. The Trust that we evoke makes my job as a Designer more of a partnership with my clients. Trends Eclecticism ... the Art of blending pieces from different periods and cultures and creating a dramatic composition. This look can add instant sophistication. We are steering away from "collections" or "suites of furniture and creating spaces that reflect a more personalized style. Great design never looks like it came out of a box! Current favorite colors My favorite colors are the colors of the Natural Elements ... wood, stone, earth and metal. I love blacks, grays, bronze, copper and taupes. You can easily add the Fire or Water color elements to these palettes if you want more "spark." When selecting a color palette for your home, always go with the colors that suit your personality and style. Dress your home the way that you would dress yourself, and you will feel at home. God hasn't made any NEW colors. Follow your own personal color palette, not today’s color trend. Current favorite accessories Large-scaled artwork and well-appointed subtle lighting can transform a room. Different levels of light allow textures and colors to come to life. Large statement accessories have more impact than lots of small items.
For one of my recent design projects we filled the client’s china cabinet with specimens of natural crystals and quartz. Crystals represent healing; he works in the medical field so this seemed appropriate. The crystals complement the crystals of the chandelier ... the effect is stunning, personal and unexpected. How to integrate old, inherited pieces This goes back to Eclecticism. Every home needs a personal touch. It could be Aunt Mary Beth's old wing chair that is i[dated in a wonderful teal velvet in her niece's new home. Integrating collections that a client has inherited or collected over time brings soul to the room. Doing rooms in stages Sometimes you may decide that you need to do a room in stages. A Master Plan will insure that you know where you are going and that you avoid any wrong turns along the way.
Instead of buying all of the upholstery first then the accents for phase 2 consider an alternate phase plan. Having a Backdrop to a few core pieces can make the room instantly more dimensional. A piece of Artwork and a tailored window treatment in Phase 1 can make the room feel more complete. Pieces sitting in a room without a Backdrop is like a stage with no background. The pieces may feel unconnected. The upper half of the room should balance the lower half ... textiles of art and fabric can provide this visual link.
Great Design takes time and should evolve over time as you live in the space. -Connie Kelly, Ethan Allen. 803-407-1500.
Q: What trends are you seeing for 2014 and beyond?
A: The biggest change we’ve seen is how televisions are moving away from conventional spaces and showing up everywhere—in bookcases, hanging above a fireplace or perched on a buffet in the den with a great lamp. Since they have no depth, they almost disappear and can go anywhere.
Clients also seem to be more focused on comfort than ever before. We’re doing a lot of sectionals and sofas that sit deep, with big soft cushions, but are covered in gorgeous fabric that also happens to be durable. With these new fabrics and washable slipcovers, you really can have that white sofa you’ve always wanted!
By far the most common trend is Pinterest, which we love. It can be difficult for some people to articulate their style. Pinterest lets them show us. We can also help them refine their style. Someone may think that their decorating style is traditional, but when we look at the rooms they love, we can see that they might be more contemporary than they realize.
Q: What are some of your favorite accessories?
A: Mirrors! With so many gorgeous choices out there right now, mirrors can work like art in a room. They’re very dramatic, too. If you’ve got a large wall, consider hanging three tall mirrors side-by-side. It’s striking and interesting. Starburst mirrors are a great way to jazz up a room that’s filled with antiques or traditional furnishings.
We also love the look of coffee table books—you can stack them almost anywhere—and big chunky candlesticks. Anything that’s natural and interesting to look at will make a great accessory, from a carved marble bowl to an oversized piece of coral.
Don’t forget about lamps. These days, they’re more than a source of light—they’re pieces of art that can add to the look of a room. They’re also functional, adding a pretty glow to a room in the evening.
Q: How do you integrate old or inherited pieces into your home?
A: Antiques add weight and depth to a room, and they’re also incredibly versatile, so if you’ve got them, consider yourself lucky! If you’ve still got the armoire that held your television before you got a flat screen, consider putting it in the guest room to use as a dresser or in the dining room to hold china or linens. An old chest or buffet can take on new life with a piece of contemporary art hung above it and a modern lamp on top.
In dining rooms, we’re mixing up the seating a bit, with a pair of host chairs at each end, a bench along one side of the table and regular dining chairs along the other. It’s a stylish way to use those three chairs that your grandmother left you.
Q: What’s your advice on decorating a room in stages?
A: In my experience, decorating several rooms a little at a time can be overwhelming! Instead of going from room to room, picking up accessories and changing artwork, I’d suggest focusing all your energy on one room, getting it right, then moving on to the next. A beautiful, finished room will motivate you to start on the next one!
Q: Is there a unique South Carolina decorating style?
A: Not necessarily, but we love to hang works by local artists. The scenes are often recognizable, which brings a nice visual dose of South Carolina wherever they are. Sea and mountain-grass rugs also seem to be associated with Southern style, although they work in a number of decors.
Q: What are the special challenges of outdoor rooms?
A: The elements! It’s really hard to keep things looking good when they’re outside 24/7. The trick is to choose fabrics and other pieces that are made to be outside since they’ll be easier to keep clean. The choices are almost endless—you can’t even tell outdoor fabrics from regular fabrics anymore, and they’re doing amazing things with outdoor rugs.
Stephanie Abernethy, Verve Interiors. 803-799-0045.
Verandah Interiors is a full service interior design firm that provides consultations, custom interiors, furnishings, fine art and accessories for commercial and residential properties, including new construction. Whether decorating or building a home or office, Verandah Interiors offers a broad spectrum of design services while portraying the personalities of our clients. In May, thousands came out to Atlanta, GA to celebrate PinkEggshell’s 2014 African American Top 20 Interior Designers. This year's celebration included an Awards Party, Panel Discussion, visit to ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center), Sheila Bridges "The Bald Mermaid" book signing, Atlanta Symphony Show House Tour led by show house participants and AATop20 Michel Boyd and Janice Palmer, and several private honorary parties. The 2014 African-American Top 20 Interior Designers awarded, and celebrated are: Joan Goodwin, Michel Boyd, Lisa Turner, Robin Wilson, Sheila Bridges, Roderick Shade, Cecil Hayes, Darryl Carter, Elaine Griffin, Lorna Gross, Marian Akinloye, Alicia Lamar, Erin Shakoor, Janice Palmer, Nile Johnson, Joy Moyler, Anishka Clarke, Rae Revelle, Ron Woodson, and Tiffany Brooks. These designers work with A- list clients and offer services for both commercial and residential projects. Founder Kimberly Ward's PinkEggshell’s list of the African-American Top 20 Interior Designers has been recognized by The Huffington Post, Uptown Magazine, The Editor At Large and countless other blogs and online media. Check out www.pinkeggshell.blogspot.com to get more information on each designer.
Trends I believe that interior design is a personal journey, therefore I tend not to follow trends. I prefer classic designs, quality furnishings and warm inviting colors, which always stand the test of time.
Current favorite colors Even though I was not always a fan of grey; it has proven itself as an absolutely fabulous color. It adds grace and style to just about any color that is partnered with it. The color grey is forgiving, easy on the eyes, and easy to work with. I also look to Pantone to provide the latest colors for the year ahead. Here is a sneak peek at a few of the colors that will be everywhere next year: Etherea 15-1506, Biscotti 13-1009, Azure blue 17-4139, and Cantaloupe15-1239. There are actually 72 colors in all.
Current favorite accessories Currently, my favorite accessories are art, custom pillows and, lamps. A piece of art can always be used as a source of inspiration. You can create your color palette for the entire house from one very fabulous painting. I prefer over-sized art because it really makes an impressive statement. Pillows, especially custom made with down feather inserts and lavish brush fringe, add lasting luxury to your sofa or bed. The right lamp adds pizzazz and style to any room. If possible choose a black shade for your lamp to add a little bit of drama. Proper accessory selections can turn an ordinary room into a show stopper.
How to integrate old, inherited pieces Integrating old inherited pieces can be quite a challenge, especially if you are not that into antiques. However, a modern or contemporary fabric on an upholstered chair or sofa could turn your old piece of furniture into something stunning. And of course there is always paint, which can transform just about anything. Depending on the condition and sentiments, allowing your piece to remain in its original condition could increase the value in the long run. Most exciting trends Turn your closet doors into a design fashion statement. Almost every room has a closet, and they are always either white or whatever color you are using for your trim. By using hand painted wallpaper, a mural, or commissioning an artist to paint something unique, that boring white door can become a canvas for your favorite art theme, adding style and color. This is sure to become a conversation piece. Note: Verandah Interiors' Behind the Window display can be seen downtown at the Tapps Art Building in Columbia.
Joan Goodwin, Verandah Interiors. 803-586-9563
Q: What trends are you seeing these days? How can readers incorporate them into their homes?
A: Mid-Century modern furnishings and accessories have been popular for the last few years—they’re characterized by organic curves and splayed legs on furniture—but lately we’re seeing pieces that are more modernist. That means more polished metal, metal mixed with glass, acrylic and Lucite. Oh, and brass is back! But not the shiny brass from the 80s and early 90s. Today’s brass is burnished, which is a softer look. Switching out your hardware for burnished brass is a good way to add this detail.
Black and white is very popular right now, even black painted walls, which we used to see only in the most stark, contemporary homes. To make it work with more classic elements, try mixing the black with a rich white to soften it and accessorize with warm mellow woods and creamy linen upholstery.
Shagreen—which is shark or sting ray skin—has moved out of jewelry and into the home in the form of cocktail tables and headboards. If you have an ultra-traditional house, you may just want to put a shagreen or snakeskin box on your coffee table.
Q: What colors are popular right now?
We’re seeing a move away from tan and toward cooler shades of grey. They’re especially pretty with lavender and lilac. Pink gives a nice pop, but it works best with natural fabrics and soft neutrals.
Q: What are your current favorite accessories?
A: Bowls are a terrific accessory; look for mixed materials, glass, mercury glass and wood. Irregular curves are appealing because they mimic the shape of nature.
You can do a lot with hardware, too. We recently installed pulls made from old geodes—rocks with gorgeous crystals on the inside—and they lifted the piece up to a new level.
The trick with accessories is to use them purposefully: You want to stay loyal to your aesthetic so your room remains unified. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun! Instead of a jarring mix, like a bunch of contemporary accessories in one place in an otherwise traditional room, add elements here and there.
Q: What’s your advice about decorating a room in stages?
A: If you want to re-do a room, but you can’t afford to do the whole thing at once, the best strategy is to start by choosing the major pieces of furniture you want for the room and saving for them. Once they’re in place, you’ve created the base for your look. From there, it’s just about building on that foundation. You’ll end up with a room that you feel good about because it’s really pulled together. And don’t buy something you think you’ll just use for a year. They have a way of sticking around and not adding much to the mix!
Q: What trends have become classics?
A: Remember the floral upholstery from the 80s and 90s? It’s long gone. What replaced it, the neutrals and heavy linens that still look clean and fresh, have become classic. Using concrete indoors has moved beyond a cutting edge trend. It’s showing up on countertops and tabletops, especially in outdoor rooms. We’re also found that abstract art is replacing traditional still life and landscape paintings. It works so well in any décor.
Q: How do you integrate old or inherited pieces into your home?
We were all told never to paint our old wooden pieces, but, unless it has great sentimental value the way it is, or it’s a museum-quality piece, don’t be afraid to change it up. Lacquer or paint can do wonders for an old chest and can help it work in a variety of decors.
Q: What advice do you have for spouses who have very different decorating styles?
A: Get help! A designer can help find ways to blend the different styles in a way that looks artful and works with the aesthetic of the house. I’d also suggest that both spouses bring pictures of rooms they like—spouses often find that their tastes are more similar than they think.
Anna Kemper, Mack Home. 803-790-9911.