Q. How do you begin a decorating project?
A. The first and most important decision is how you want to use the room. Next, figure out the ambiance. For example, do you want the room to be cool and relaxing or vitalizing? While you will probably want a quiet and peaceful bedroom, a breakfast room should be bright and cheery to help you get a jump start on the day. After those decisions are made, plan the furnishings that go into the room-based on how it will function. Not until all that is done do you need to think about color and pattern.
Q. What sources should I use for information about decorating?
A. Nothing is more accessible than good decorating magazines such as House Beautiful, Country Living, Country Home or Traditional Home, which are always available on the newsstands, or at the library. Magazines are very helpful in identifying sources of the furniture, wallpaper or fabrics to use.
Q. What are today’s important trends?
A. I personally don’t design with trends in mind at all. But generally interiors look less studied than the designer room of a decade ago. Today our approach to a room is to add only the things that are necessary, then stop. For example, with window treatments, ten years ago we would have done a valance, an under-curtain, side panel, et cetera. Now we might start with a sheer curtain, add a room darkening shade, pleated shade or wooden shutters. We only add after we have first solved the room’s pragmatic needs. Now, we are going into environments that we designed for our clients ten years ago to simplify them. For example, instead of a printed table skirt, we may use a beautiful linen. The look is more open, less cluttered. Fewer pieces of furniture are selected, but are always well-chosen.This can apply to any style, from country to contemporary.
Q. How can I create a room that won’t look dated in few years?
A. For big investments, make basic choices. You can be trendy with pillows, duvet covers or a wallpaper border, all of which can be changed if you tire of them in a few years. Don’t do a sofa in a wild floral, consider instead a simple stripe or denim that can be dressed up or down.
Q. Any other suggestions?
A. Always try to balance light, medium and dark values in any room. Incorporate changes in textures, a balance of cool and warm colors. An easy approach to changing the look of your room through color is to record what you have, then look for opposites. In an all yellow room, add lavender pillows and lavender flowers. If the room is all light, you need something dark—perhaps a black telephone or a wrought iron base for a table. You can’t get it wrong that way.