Can I use a dark paint in my bathroom?

What a good question I received from a recent design client! One would automatically assume that the answer is going to be no... one would be wrong! This is a loaded question, so let me provide some follow up info to help clarify why my answer can sometimes be yes.

Photo credit to

Photo credit to

So, my first question to you is which bathroom is this?

If it's a powder room, my answer is YES, we can paint or wallpaper or do a dark wall treatment. Why? Because this room is for show. Yes it's functional because people will use the toilet and wash their hands, so they need to be able to see the faucet handles, but that's basically it! This bathroom serves no other purpose than to look cute and flush! Do what you want to this bathroom, it's your toy to play with. Use it to experiment with color, take a walk on the wild side here. The amount of wall space in here is so minimal and you yourself will rarely use it, so if you mess it up it's cheap to redo and if you go overboard, it's for your guests, not you.. just don't go in there! Chances are you will find your inner creative when designing this small space.

Is this a guest bathroom? 

Do you like having guests? If no- Paint it as dark as you want, then they won't stay long! LOL If your answer is yes, how often do you have guests and how small is this room? If your room has high enough ceilings or a lot of natural light, you may still get away with some dark paint or paper or stone or tile in this room on your wall. Dark tile on your floors doesn't affect the room looking small if you compliment it properly with your lighter wall selections. The purpose of this room is to function when your guests are here, in the morning when they wake up and freshen up, possibly apply makeup and then intermittently during their day and again at night. If your guest bathroom is small, and does not contain bright, natural light, go light on your walls. If you're in love with a dark color, try it in the shower or one accent wall, if it can be any wall other than your vanity sink wall. This wall requires "task" lighting and should be as bright as possible for applying makeup, face washing, shaving etc. 

Is this your master bathroom?

If your answer is yes, how large is it and do you get natural light in it? If you see the ultra contemporary master above, it's massive and has high ceilings. This makes the room appear large and, combined with the window and bright, illuminated mirror, any task can be completed with ease in this room. They counterbalanced the dark walls with bright floors and accent walls in bright white near the shower. As this is YOUR main bathroom, only you spend time in here, so it should be planned the way YOU will use it.  If you don't use a tub, don't put one in... as long as there is ONE tub in the house somewhere, you do not need one in your master. If you have ten foot high ceilings but your room is smaller, try using one dark accent wall, but leaving the remaining walls light. If you absolutely MUST have that fab new dark raisin color in your master, make sure you have a boat-load of lighting to attack the areas you need for tasks. Many homeowners feel that a light bar or two above their sink is sufficient enough to do all they need to do at their sinks. For some this is true, but once you go dark, this will not be the case. Add recessed cans to your ceiling to assist in brightening up your space. If you have lots of natural light coming in, either from a window or solar tube, go nuts with your dark-choosing self. Just make sure if you are the girl who takes two hours to do her hair and makeup in the morning, that your lighting is enough to see the smallest pimple you're trying to cover or eyebrow hair you're trying to pluck! As women, we get so wrapped up in the beauty of the new space, that we forget how it's supposed to function for us. 

SOOOOO... can you go dark in the bathroom? Yes, absolutely, depending on these factors. Now, get to painting! Ned help selecting the right dark or perfect combo palette for your bathroom remodel? I'd love to work with you if you're in the Phoenix-metro area, but I also travel for the right projects. Simply go to my contact page and call or fill out the inquiry form and I'll be in touch.


Small changes can make a BIG difference in your family room

A few months ago I had a client with a typical family room dilemma. They had SOME idea of what they liked and began to work on their space. They purchased a large flat screen LED television, then needed a cabinet to house it. They went to Ikea and planned a unit that the husband (the ultra contemporary of the couple) loved. They set it up in the space after they painted their walls a color they liked, and that was it... they were stuck on where to go next. 

They are an amazing family with three young children who have taken their light beige furniture and destroyed it over just a few short years. The complete set of sofa, loveseat and matching chair and ottoman, not only looked tired in the space, but took up WAY TOO MUCH space. They wanted me to breathe life into the room at a budget that was comfortable for them. At just under $6,000, I accomplished just that. Let me show you how...

Inspiration board created on

My client's designs always start with a drawing and/ or Olioboard in 2D or 3D format (when I have an empty shot of the room) and a floorplan of the proposed new space. The clients loved the furnishings selected and decided to proceed with the new space.

Before shot of the family roomAbove is the before shot of the family room space. I actually like where TJ was going with his asymetrical cabinet design, but Debbie and her more traditional sense hated it. My job was to balance out Debbie's traditional view with TJ's ultra contemporary style, keeping the existing wall color and addding a new anchor color that they both agreed on- grey.

Grey is the neutral of the century. I never get tired of playing with it and challenging it's ability to stretch a color palette. Watch what I did with it in this space...

This sofa from ZGallerie was the perfect solution for this space. Not only was it a perfect fit, but the fabric is far more forgiving for little messy fingers. It also gave TJ a lounge to chill out and watch tv, replacing his massive chair and ottoman. His favorite piece in the room was this table, a funky take on his previous asymetrical cabinetry. Accent colors of red, teal and a pale khaki green bounce nicely off the wall colors in this room.

Just a small adjustment to the previous cabinet layout allowed for fun colorful accessories, lighteing up the space and appealing to Debbie. Fun canvas art on the wall helps tie in all of the colors selected.

I can't forget to show this adorable, deep red barrel back swivel chair from Pier 1. Not only is it a comfortable find for a great pricepoint of just $400, but it comes in red, brown and teal to match many current color palettes. Here it fit in perfectly, alongside the floor to ceiling faux silk, charcoal grey curtain panels. 

This whole space works so well together and was done at a great savings to my client. They didn't need to repaint, they kept their carpet, lower cabinetry and ceiling fan, making this space an affordable cosmetic remodel. Even though we didn't change everything within the room, the change is no less dramatic. The mood is now more energetic, light and fun, yet the furnishings look more luxurious and most importantly... they love their new space! And that's my favorite part :-)

Design Styles- Focus on Contemporary- Metropolitan

I was born in Bronx, NY and have been lucky enough to have spent the greater portion of my years in design working on the East Coast perfecting one of my most favorite styles, a neverending NY trend- contemporary. What many do not know is that contemporary interior design is not a monotone style of design. Just as there is more than one shade of gray, so too are there many different layers that make up the classification of contemporary design. One of the most popular and most endearing is today's blog focus- Metropolitan.

Metropolitan design, also often referred to as "Glam Chic" has been rapidly increasing in popularity over the last five years, thanks to it's exposure on home network tv and designers who consistantly practice the art, such as Candice Olsen. The best way to describe this style is to take classic modern elements and kick the room up a notch with glamorous, lush or shiny statement pieces that enhance the cohesive look of the space. For instance, using mirrored end tables in conjuntion with a crystal chandelier pendant and other "sparkly" yet not overly dramatic pieces in a room such as this one I am currently working on for a client's family room in Phoenix, AZ. 

 A Metropolitan designed space is a bit more showy than a standard contemporary space. If you notice the ottomans I chose are plush velvet in a vivacious accent color. The look they give off is luxurious and perhaps this style is more appealing to a woman than it would be a man, but we've balanced the femininity with the more masculine steel gray in the curtains and in the largest piece in the space- the sofa, which is now a massive sectional, shown below.

Notice the lines on this sofa. It's just a bit more special than the average sofa, with fantastic wood trim that gives it a uniqueness. This sofa will be punched up with a rich, gray fabric and starburst accent pillows, then layered with more accent pillows in sexy plums and purples.

I will not yet reveal where these blingy shell tiles will fit into this design, but I will blog about this space when I am done. For now, it's a secret!

I love working with pieces like this in general within my designs. I have to get a piece or two in my design that is just their own, one not easily found or duplicated by their neighbor. In Metropolitan design, many special pieces work together. Metal accents are bold enough to be noticed, yet don't overtake the rest of the space. Lighting in a Metropolitan space must command attention. Even pendants drip in jewels, colored glass or crystals. Metropolitan rooms contain glass, mirrored accent pieces or other glam touches that set it apart from the norm. Shapes in this design style are typically swirls, bold geographic scrollwork, swooping ovals or hard-lined, repeticious rectangles. 

Here are some other distinctly Metropolitan pieces that can help to create an amazing space. This dresser can be used as a nighstand in a glam bedroom or as an accent piece on a wall in any room in a Metropolitan space. It's covered in linen and has a washed paint job with large, metal pulls to add the drama it needs to make it a mini statement in a room.

This jewel encrusted bed frame brings the glam and is a bit much for some, but it can be toned down if done well within a having a great designer such as myself. My husband (shown in the chair nearby) would agree!

The jewels, again, are a bit too much drama for some, but this sofa can come with merely the bright chrome nailhead trim, the perfect bit of glam for any male/ female space.


Here's just one more example- swooping, swan-like glass on a Metropolitan chandelier. All of the items shown above were pieces I found earlier this year at the World Market Show in Las Vegas, where Metro Design ruled and continues to make a statement.

There is no end in sight to this gorgeous form of contemporary style. If you are interested in incorporating this design style into your home with my help (whether you live in AZ or not), contact me and let's get some glam into your space!

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Design Styles. By special request, our next focus will be Modern Industrial.  


2 Weeks in the Life of a SMALL Interior Design Job (Part 3)

So, it's now been a few days since I have seen my new client. Yesterday was my shopping day. I found many pieces that I can incorporate into my design.

My biggest dilemma has been selecting the accent color for her space. She loves all colors, happy colors. I typically ask my clients what colors they dislike, then create a palette from what's left. Why do I ask what colors you dislike? So often you ask a client what colors they like. They don't often know. They will list two or three colors but neglect to mention others because they just don't realize how much they like them. Usually they own several articles of clothing in these other colors but have never considered them for their walls of home decor. It's often difficult to expand a personal view of something you feel you just "know". This usually requires expanding that perception by seeing a color scheme with those colors to agree. One thing you always know, however, is the one or two colors you hate! You have strong feelings about them and can recite them quickly. Think about it... You can see a cute pair of shoes in the store but pass them over because you don't like red. You can look through your whole closet and not find one green outfit. You can proclaim to the mountains that you can't stand yellow. Your likes may be a bit wishy washy, but your dislikes are FIRM!

Now, one of the most important aspects of this design plan is scale. It's one of the most important parts of any design plan but even more so with a smaller space. It's also the most under planned concept by homeowners and the one they get wrong the most. I would say that seventy percent of all homes I see have furniture that's way too large for the space and another twenty percent has furniture that's just too small. That only leaves ten percent who actually get it right. It's not entirely your fault. There is a bit of math and science to it all. That's part of why people hire professionals. You may love a piece of furniture but that doesn't mean it's the right sized piece to live in your home. 

In my client's case, she needs smaller pieces, narrower in depth. I have found a great dining table that is a narrow oval and will be a great fit for her smaller width dining area. I have found a click clack that doesn't scream dorm room and a nice bookcase that I can either place on the wall or use as a room dividing knee wall to visually break up the space. I just haven't figured out which I am doing yet...

I'll keep you posted. Today, I put it all together and meet with my client at 5 to present my ideas.


2 Weeks in the Life of a SMALL Interior Design Job (Part 1)

Today I am meeting a new client whom I have been chatting with for the last few weeks by phone and email. I always get excited to meet new clients. Each one is unique and their perspective on design is often times far different than the reality of what we do, so I enjoy the education I provide to my clients by giving them a thorough understanding and appreciation for the design process.

My new client is relocating to AZ from San Jose, CA for work and is seeking to reside close to her place of business. After her first apartment didn't work out I helped her to find a new place to live by providing her several options within 10 miles of her company. I highlighted some favorites and she secured a great space. The building is modern and fun, right off of Tempe Town Lake and a few seconds from the highway. Now, I don't normally add real estate agent to my resume, but when you begin that designer/ client relationship and your end goal is the best for your client, it doesn't take much effort to go that extra mile. 

As a designer I work in a few different pay scales with my clients. I can do the standard hourly rate, but this is becoming less and less the preferred method for design, as clients seek transparency when working with a designer. An hourly fee is an open-ended contract and, although I am truthful, it can take far more hours than you can imagine to do all that is required to design and then implement your space and can be an overwhelming thought to a new client in this economic time. A little over a year ago I adopted a "Value Based Fee System" used by thousands of designers across the country that takes into account the estimated hours to design, plan and implement your design project and present that to my clients as a flat design fee. This takes the guess work out of how much my time will cost and allows them to focus on the bare bones of their project.

The Space-

My client's apartment is an 864 square foot, 1 bedroom, 1 bath space. Being an apartment, I have limitations in certain areas- I cannot change the flooring, I cannot paint the walls and I have to work with the existing cabinetry and layout. My client will be living in a hotel for the week and then moving into her home when the week is done. She is bringing nothing with her, so I will need to buy everything for her. Here is her layout.

The apartment community has this computer generated floorplan on their website and for the most part, many items placed on the plan- like the bed positioning- will have to remain the same, as there is no other way to place them. The importance here is not where things go, but what those things will be. My client has hired me because she doesn't know the area and wants a comfortable and tranquil space to come home to after a long day of work. She wants to walk into her new space and have it all done for her versus taking the many weeks it would take for her to do what I can do in way less time.

The Cost-

I estimate that it will take me 4-5 visits to her home to complete this job and combining that with the time it will take for initial consultation, presentation, and implementation of this design I have set my flat fee for this space at 17 hours. At a rate of $125.00 per hour, the fee for this job is $2,125.00. My normal rate is $150.00 per hour. Many times, working with stock products versus custom pieces creates far more work for us as designers because you are running from store to store trying to acquire just the right pieces, at the right price to make the space work. However, in this instance, I have such a clear plan for what I am doing in her home, that I am charging a lesser rate for her small amount of space.

DISCLAIMER: This is the way I work and that doesn't mean that the way your designer works is wrong because it is different. Every designer had their own method of charging and fees involved with what they do. 

Payment Method-

When you work with a designer, always expect that you will pay a portion of your design fee up front. What we do is creative, as well as intellectual service and it begins the second we enter your home... ideas are already brewing. A retainer is always a requirement. For my flat fee, I require half down of the design fee to get started on your job. The balance of the design fee is paid upon completion of your project. The design fee is the work involved to create your space, but does not inculde the actual products that will be within your space. These will depend on your budget and your desires for your home. 

In this client's case, she is seeking to  be within her space comfortably within a week. This means that I must get the most important areas of her home completed prior to her move in. These areas would be her counter where she will be able to eat, even if I do not get a dining table into her space by then, the living room and her bedroom- as she needs a bed and furniture to store her clothing. Because of this, we are looking for stock furnishings that are in stock and can be delivered quickly. 

Our Initial Consultation-

Today's first meeting will be to finally get to see each other face to face, get a feel for her new surroundings, sign our new work contract, pick up my deposit and discuss her budget and look at the two inspiration pieces she is buying today. When she was last down here she found two art pieces in downtown Tempe that she loved and hoped I could work with in my design. I can't wait to see them.

Now that we have covered all of the basics- stay tuned for my next post tomorrow, after I meet my new friend!