Fully exhaled, wind-in-your-hair excitement is color. I can’t explain it. I love color. I love how the different positions of the sun change it. I gape in awe at unopened boxes of crayons (no matter how many are stacked at home) with perfectly pointed unused tips. Colored pencils, markers and paint: if it’s saturated in color, it’s like a magnet. An even better experience is a brightly painted room, anchored with strong furniture and accented by perfectly proportioned art.
I don’t refer to myself as an Interior Designer. This is presumptuous, I know, but I feel the Interior Designers have to defend their trade by increasingly pushing the envelope to be credible. They may oblige a client’s “vision” or push “art” just to offer something unique. Many designers earn markup and overload rooms with meaningless items. Many designers overproduce a room
An Example: A client wants a striped wall. The designer delivers a striped half-wall, with a chair rail, with the darker stripes sporting golden faux overlay. Eek. Another example: A client lives in a modest cape and wants a room in a Victorian style, so the room is fitted with heavy drapes and velvet sofas with ornate wooden frames.
In both examples, the client will become easily bored with the choices; the room will seem cluttered and unkempt because there are too many visual distractions. The designer may have a unique offering for their portfolio, but it quickly stales at the client’s expense.
[blockquote align="left"]I like to think of myself as an Environmental Designer, because a room is not just a room by itself. It lives and breathes and has purpose.[/blockquote] I like to think of myself as an Environmental Designer, because a room is not just a room by itself. It lives and breathes and has purpose. Its purpose affects the purpose of other rooms and sometimes the exterior of a building or beyond its structure. My joy is unlocking each room’s potential, finding edgy colors (without being trendy), loading it with surprising function, balancing furniture and meaningful accessories that reflect the client’s personality while still be appealing for several years.
I’ve learned by experience and I operate with my senses. Sure, one can learn the rules of complementary colors and monochromatic palettes. But, “feeling a space” can’t be learned: to know its flow and dance with the sunlight. I often enter a space and click through colors or swap furniture in my head. Sometimes I can even sense proportions of items and whether placement will impede or enable flow. I can sense what will work and what won’t. The things that we are the best at are the things that we have absent-mindedly done our entire lives. For me, I’ve spent much of my childhood designing rooms for dolls. Somewhere along the line that playacting turned into something tangible.
Professionally, I have “a large retailer” (Pottery Barn) to thank for what I’ve learned in selecting colors, fabrics, floor plans and decorative accessories. As a Design Studio Manager in one of their Northeast stores, I learned techniques from our District Visual Manager. Instead of just selling product, I would draw floor plans and suggest color palettes to match. I had the opportunity towork with a growing number of clients that would seek advice for their second homes, most of which were in the Hamptons. And when my family moved, I continued designing spaces as a hobby for family, friends and a local non-profit.
Since then, it’s been a joy to help people envision their spaces to be functional, colorful and full of possibility. Just like a box of newly opened crayons.