Choosing a Color Scheme

by Lauren Setum

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared design ideas for spaces in my friend’s new home. Today, I thought I’d post a summary, so to speak, of all the selections. The paint colors for each room are below. Notice that not only do they work in their respective spaces, but they also go well together as a group.

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When possible, I usually lean towards choosing fabrics and finishes before a paint color. Sometimes, however, that’s just not possible (i.e. when you’re moving into a new home and want to get the painting done first). In that case, make sure that your colors work together to create a nice scheme. A solid scheme will inform and set the stage for future design choices that you’ll make for your home.

A recap of the Living RoomKitchen, and Master Bedroom designs…

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Balancing Act

by Lauren Setum

Well, you’ve seen design ideas for the KitchenDining RoomMaster Bedroom and Guest Bedroom in my friend’s new home. Last, but not least, is the Living Room. The paint color for this space is…

sweet rosy brown

Sweet Rosy Brown by Benjamin Moore

As you can see in the space plan below, the Living Room is long and narrow, but by strategically placing furniture of the correct size, cozy conversation areas and reading nooks emerge. You’ll notice that the area rug is labeled as a 10′ x 14′. It’s important that the rug not be smaller. Smaller rug = smaller feeling space. The two lounge chairs across from the sofa are placed in front of the large window for a reason. If you want to see an interior designer cringe, place a large sofa in front of a window (CRINGE!). The chairs are more appropriate for this spot because they feel lighter in comparison to one big sofa. A sofa would make the window feel blocked off; we want to welcome the light in! Finally, end tables are drawn in at just the right size: not too small, not too big.

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Now, let’s talk about focal points in the room and how they should be addressed. You probably noticed on the plan that the fireplace is tucked into one end of the room. While it should remain a charming architectural detail, it’s important that, in the interest of visual balance, not everything be directed toward just this one end of the space. First, let’s focus on how to include the fireplace as a focal point.

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The photo above (walls are awaiting their new paint color!) gives you an idea of the fireplace’s existing brick. You can also see that there is an existing mantle. Instead of a single piece of art above the mantle, I’d suggest a look like (one row of) this…

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It’s a great way to showcase special photographs. The layered look of these photos suggests that they’ve been acquired over time and  that there’s a real history to the home and the people who live there (which is true!). I’d also recommend replacing the chandelier you see in the Living Room photo with this spotlight fixture from Home Depot. The placement of the existing chandelier is a little awkward; this spotlight, mounted on the ceiling, would allow the photographs to shine. (Tip: when purchasing a fixture that’s meant solely for highlighting other elements in a room, try to match the ceiling color as closely as possible; no need for a big dark blob on a white-ish ceiling!)

Then, to complete the fireplace area, add a small lounge chair as seen on the plan. Notice that whichever way you look at it, whether from the kitchen or from the other end of the Living Room, you see a lovely composition at the fireplace. Plus, what a great spot to curl up and read a book!

Now for the other end of the Living Room. The wall opposite the fireplace needs some attention so that the space won’t feel visually lopsided. My idea, as seen in the elevation drawing below, involves a credenza and a few key accessories. First off, the homeowners would want to keep an eye out for a mid-century credenza that’s about 5 feet wide; vintage shops, like findfurnish in Northeast Minneapolis, are great places to find such treasures. The floating bookshelves from The Container Store designate a place for reading materials and create a great asymmetrical look on this wall (necessary because the doorway to the dining room is to the left and restricts any kind of wall hanging that projects). A large scale piece of art and 30 inch high lamp complete the look. Oh, and don’t forget these gold trays from West Elm; they allow the credenza to be turned into a great little bar at a moment’s notice!

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And, of course, materials and finishes…

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1) Sofa Fabric: This color did not work well the way the previous homeowners used it, as an accent wall. Toss this fabric from Pollock on a sofa though, and you have one fabulous pop of color!

2 & 3) Sofa pillow fabrics: A little pattern (Schumacher) and a texture (Pollock) with just the right colors can work wonders.

4) Ceramic art above sofa: Kimberlee Joy Roth is a Minneapolis-based ceramic artist. The piece shown on the board above is lovely, though I’d recommend going with one of her blue finishes. Check out the fabulous installations you can do with her art here.

5) Side table: You’ll notice on the floor plan that I’ve placed a small end table between the two lounge chairs. I love this one from Ballard Designs for that spot.

6) Lounge chairs: I found this pair of chairs (there are actually two of them) at findfurnish in Minneapolis. The shape of the chairs is absolutely perfect for this home.

7) Fabric for Lounge Chairs: The lounge chairs are indeed wonderful, but they definitely need to be reupholstered. This fabric from Schumacher does a fantastic job of picking up on the blue color seen here in the Living Room and throughout the rest of the home.

8) Pillow fabric: Repeating the red color on the chairs with some pillows using this Schumacher fabric.

9) Art for over the credenza: I’d shown some art placed above the credenza in the elevation drawing. A couple things that I feel are important: a) The colors; love that this piece has red, blue and gold tones. b) The subject matter isn’t too serious. While I love that this space is moody and almost a little dramatic, I think it’s important that the tone not be overly serious. The homeowners are young, vibrant people, and their space should reflect that. This artwork is fun and unexpected, but it still works.

And the all important rug, shown at the bottom of the board. This beauty is from Dash & Albert.

A Cardinal That Rolled in Ketchup…

by Lauren Setum

Signing papers for a new house can seem scary and overwhelming. Then you get to the ‘let’s pick out new paint colors’ stage, and signing those loan documents seems like the easy part. Yikes! Selecting colors…no, make that selecting the right colors…really isn’t easy. Page through a paint deck, and you’ll notice just how many subtle variations there are between paint chips; choosing the right one can even be a challenge for professional designers sometimes. A couple things to consider:

  • Have you looked at your paint sample in the room that you’ll be painting? If not, you should. Lighting makes all the difference, and each space is a little different. You see a sample at its ‘truest’ color during the day when it’s light out.
  • Have a favorite color? Awesome. There are a couple common mistakes people make when it comes to colors they love. Let’s say your favorite color is red:

1) Just because you like red does not mean that you should go out in search of the bloodiest, I’m a cardinal that rolled in ketchup red. I mean seriously. While there may be situations where that type of red is appropriate, more often than not, that color probably isn’t going to translate into what you had in mind.

2) Just because it’s your favorite color doesn’t mean it belongs on your walls. Consider whether it might be more appropriate to use ‘red’ as an accent color. Think POPS of color.

Alright, now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk about some recent paint selections my friend and I made for her new home. Today, I’m going to share the Master Bedroom paint color. It is….

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Cedar Ridge by Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore is a great, high quality paint. The company offers a wider range of color selections than most paint vendors, which is also a big plus. The mood board below shows how a few layers of fabrics, art and accessories work with the paint color to create a lovely Master Bedroom:

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Note: My friend and her fiancee have existing dark wood furniture that will be used in the space.

Abstract floral rug from Surya: With the paint color being a little lighter, this rug, with some deeper tones, does a great job of grounding the room and defining the space. Plus, since it’s 100% wool, it’s durable and will last much longer.

Duvet cover from Restoration Hardware (in Prairie)Since the rug utilizes a large scale pattern, there was no need for pattern on the bedding. The Prairie colorway is just right because it’s slightly deeper than the walls and therefore adds a little depth without being too busy.

Pillow sham fabric by Christopher Farr Cloth (in Natural)Since this fabric is sold by the yard, the shams would need to be custom made. Getting shams made is easier than you think though (especially if you know an interior designer!). In this case, I feel it’s the best solution because this fabric is what pulls the room together. If you click on the link and zoom in on the fabric, you’ll see that it has all the colors used in the room. This is key in making a space feel cohesive. Plus, bed-in-a-bags drive me crazy…way too matchy matchy and not very personal. Combining these shams with the duvet from Restoration Hardware yields a much more unique look. Finally, since the scale of the pattern is considerably smaller than that of the rug, the two work together well.

Gold throw by West Elm (on sale!) & To the Moon pillow by Red EnvelopeAccessories add color, texture and personality to a space.

Lamp is vintage from findfurnish in MinneapolisThis textured lamp is so fabulous. Since my friend’s new home was built in the 50s, the lamp is definitely era-appropriate. Don’t shy away from these pieces; something as simple as a new lamp shade can give them a whole new life!

Egypt print from Zazzle: Framing inexpensive prints is a great way to get something on your walls without breaking the bank. Since my friend and her fiancee have been to Egypt, I thought this would be perfect for them.

Last but not least, a second option. The space, with a few small changes could work with this rug from Surya, too. Which do you like best?

purple stripe

Your Sofa is Ugly

by Lauren Setum

Do you have a sofa that looks something like these?

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Don’t take this the wrong way, but, well, your sofa is ugly. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. The thing is, it’s overstuffed, poorly constructed and just not attractive. Now, not everyone peruses furniture regularly so let me show you what it is that I mean. These sofas are the equivalent of…

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…going to a job interview dressed in this.

The point is, your home says something about you, so say something good! Take a look at these two chairs. Their vibes are completely different!

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The beautiful chair on the right is from A. RudinIt functions the same as (make that ‘better than’) the one on the left and is clearly the product of a thoughtful design.

5 Things You Need to Consider When Purchasing Furniture

1) Quality Construction: Is the frame made of hardwood? Does the piece have an 8-way hand-tied spring system? Are the cushion fillers made of quality materials (hopefully more than just foam)? The short answer to all those questions should be ‘yes’…they are major contributors when it comes to your furniture’s longevity.

2) The lines of a piece: Assess your existing furniture before purchasing new pieces. If you have furniture with quote on quote ‘good bones’, consider consulting an upholstery workroom. They can rejuvenate your furniture by reupholstering and adding new cushions. In fact, I happen to have a project of this nature on my list of ‘to dos’. Shown below, my settee has a great classic shape and was a steal at $60. Wondering if your furniture would work for this? Feel free to ask me, I think I’ve proven I’ll be honest. Oh, and if you’re looking for new furniture, take some time to look through design magazines…familiarize yourself with the look of quality furniture.

3) Tailoring and fabric: If you’re looking at a piece with tan microsuede or brown leather…don’t buy it! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, but still, think outside the box! Outdoor fabrics, for example, can actually be a great option for furniture that gets a lot of use, as they’re really durable and cleanable. Also, be sure and survey the tailoring. It should look precise and clean, no sloppiness!

4) Scale: For heaven’s sake, sketch out a little floor plan before you go shopping, and MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE!! Don’t play the guessing game with sizes. The size of your furniture should be in proportion to the overall size of the room. It should fill the room but not overwhelm it.

5) Money: Should you have a budget? Yes. Should you have a realistic budget? Also yes. The truth is, quality furniture is an investment. But seeing as it’s for the place where you live your life, it’s a worthwhile one. Good furniture is built to last. Think of it this way…you wouldn’t get lasik from the place that advertises the procedure for $99 in a random newspaper ad would you? Exactly. So no $300 sofas either!

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My settee. Reupholstery is in its future.

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Here are a few fabulous sofas from some great vendors (clockwise from top left). All are available in a wide array of fabrics.

Lee Industries    A Rudin    Thayer Coggin   Wesley Hall  

Last but not least, a book recommendation. I live in a smaller home, so I can’t say that all 101 things are always realistic, but for the most part, the book is spot on. Definitely had me laughing the whole way through…always a plus!

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101 Things I Hate About Your House by James Swan