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Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Posted by library_girl (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 16, 12 at 12:29

Either (a) I can't seem to convey my ideas/style to the ID I'm working with or (b) I don't have a consistent idea/style or (c) What I want isn't achievable, given my constraints (described later) or (d) He's just not getting what I'm trying to achieve.

First, I'll admit I'm terribly design challenged. I know what I like when I see it. But I could never describe it. This has been quite a challenge with the major renovation I'm trying to do. Sites like houzz have helped tremendously when conveying ideas to the architects and carpenters, but it's not working well with the ID and we're at the point that all is see is $$$ in my head when I'm trying to work with him.

Project: furniture for my living room and new 'sun room'. House is 1939, colonial revival, I guess, and has natural woodwork and floors that I don't want to paint.

Here's the floor plan for the 2 rooms that he proposed. I think it's good, except the living room is where we'll sit in the evenings when we watch TV and I'm a little concerned it will be comfortable for 3-4 adults (it's me, my BF and I have a DS age:25 and DD age: 18 - they sometimes join us):

From Decorator's Proposed Plans

First question, I guess is do I have a style or are there standardized words that describe what I like? Here'a a few inspiration pics and then a link to my 26 favorite interior pictures, if you want to really analyze my tastes :)

From Decorating

From Decorating

more of my inspiration pics:
Decorating

Here's a few of the fabrics he proposed (I think I like the furniture style, if it works for TV viewing):

From Decorator's Proposed Plans

From Decorator's Proposed Plans

From Decorator's Proposed Plans

Proposed furniture and fabrics:

Decorator's Proposed Plans

And although I think what he has suggested is lovely, I don't think they're what I'm envisioning.

Disclaimer: The last furniture I bought was everything in the living room (couch, chairs, tables, lamps, pictures, candle sticks, accent pieces) from a "Parade of Homes" house. I could see it all together and it worked with the modern style house I was living in at the time. I don't want to use that furniture because it's too modern for this house.

But, we do have 2 smallish dogs (15lbs, 30lbs), a cat, and are dealing with not painting the woodwork, so does that mean that I can't achieve the look (if there's a look) I think I want?

One more comment about me - I think that, given enough time (I'm thinking years), I could achieve what I want (there's a Parade of Homes each year :) But I'd really like to be finished with the 1st floor, thus the decision to hire an ID.

Any thoughts or suggestions?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

His upholstered furniture selections seem OK. You like traditional and slightly transitional pieces with loose-fitting upholstery.

However, you clearly want solid aqua or pale turquoise upholstery fabrics, with yellow and/or orange accents and some greens. The pillow fabrics in your pictures are more modern, youthful and geometric.

Your side and accent tables are all eclectic. No "brown wood" but a mix of light woods, painted wood, mirror and metal, with forms that are mostly traditional or antique in style but with some ethnic and midcentury stuff in there.

HTH.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I'm sorry, but I don't see the connection between your inspiration pictures and the samples the ID have show you. Almost every picture you've collected has aqua or pale turquoise as a dominant theme. You seem to like stream-lined shapes with slipcovers and an eclectic modern cottage aesthetic. I don't see any of those elements in the ID's choices. I hope one of the more experienced GW members will respond to your post to help you define the essence of your inspiration pictures in a way that can be communicated to the ID.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I went back and looked at the "decorating" link to your favorite pictures, and you have a wide range of blues pictured----from a turquoise to a light spa blue to a cadet blue to a periwinkle. Your ID has gone with a blue right in the middle of that range that plays well with those other colors and fabrics. I think the fabrics he's chosen work very well.

I don't think you want a nailhead trim sofa, though. Tell him you want a slipcovered sofa with a pleated shorter skirt, and maybe swap the blue of those wing chairs for the stripe (put the stripe on the chairs and the blue on the sofa). Then you can put wonderful fun pillows on the sofa, and the spindle legs of the sofa will show. You can get just about any leg on any sofa, FYI. The staid wing chairs will be fun in that stripe!

I think the slipper chairs are okay---but they are not the world's most comfy thing--- but the other modern looking ones with the rounded thin back don't really speak to your esthetic at all, from what I can tell. Maybe that is the place for the slipper chairs, or a wire modern chair, or even a pair of unupholstered chairs like Windsors, but painted in a fun blue, yellow, light red or green.

IMO the fabrics he's picked work very well with the colors and feel you've expressed in your inspiration photos, but it's the shapes that need work. One thing you should def specify is that the chairs opposite the sofa be very comfortable, and that they swivel so they're usable for tv viewing as well. (where is your tv, I did not see it??)


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I think that there is a big difference in the LR you posted and that is in the beginning of your albulm compared to the LR in picture 10 but you already noticed that and commented about that so you know that you know!

The 1st LR is bright, fresh, crisp, clear, vibranat, youthful, casual. Picture 10 is more muted and fine, but totally different than the 1st LR. I think that the ID gave you something closer to pic 10. Somehow the proposed fabrics aren't as vibrant or fresh. Wher is the crisp white background on some of those fabrics or furniture pieces?

I think that he has too many pieces that have that dark wood, which I do think that should be there, but less of it. Like in the ottoman legs and legs peeking out from underneath a slipcover. There should still be a few wood pieces in the room but I would go w/ something lighter. Def. have a mix of painted pieces too.

Wall color: what is his proposal for wall color?

I'd see a lot of the 1st LR look in Better Homes and Gardens. Also check out the following blogs (especially their inspiration board projects) Holly Mathis, Jennifer Rizzo and Milk and Honey.

I love your style.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

One thing I noticed in the ID floor plan is that he seems to have alot of matching pieces. That's not what I'm seeing in your inspiration pics and it's something that needs to be addressed.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I am not a decorator by any means, just an interested observer. I love your style - it�s bright, casual and comfortable, slipcovered furniture, slightly eclectic and light or painted wood tones. Personally, I do not see any of that in the proposed fabrics or furniture styles that this ID has shown you. There is none of the bright turquoise or aqua that you seem to favor, and in my amateur eyes, his samples lack the sense of crisp and vibrant tones that you appear attracted to. No wonder you are perplexed, I would be, too!!


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I honestly think I would pay him for his time so far and get another decorator. I don't think I'd have confidence in a decorator who would bring fabrics like that after seeing the pictures of the rooms you like. The vibe is totally off from what you want.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

How old is your ID? I think your are picking relatively hip, casual, eclectic spaces, anthropologie with dwell influences.

I think your ID is picking fabrics that IDs have been offering up continually since about 1940.

Has he seen these photos?

AS to your question about how not painting the woodwork fits in ---- I do think it creates a lot of extra visual clutter when you are trying to do serene white rooms like those you chose. How much clutter and how big an issue it is, hard to saw without photos.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I like both your inspiration pics AND what he chose...and the description of your home sounds lovely! Could he possibly be trying to match his design more to your house than your inspiration? I ask because your pictures all have bright white trim and you said your woodwork is to remain stained. Plus, your house is a pre-war colonial (my fav...please post pics!) and he might be following that vibe a little. I love your second inspiration pic, and don't see why he could use some of the brighter colors you love. I do love that green, lattice-y looking fabric he chose...that would work great for me! :) good luck, I really can't wait to see your house!


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Thank you all for your thoughts. After reading them, I went back and looked at my inspiration pictures again, using your words to help it make sense to me.

One think I noticed this time is that there's either a lot of bright color in the furniture fabric and almost white walls or there's blue walls and large amounts white painted woodwork (wainscoting or cabinets) Given that painted woodwork is not being considered, I think those pictures just serve to confirm my affinity for blue/aqua colors.

marcolo - when you read that I like loose-fitting upholstery from my pictures, I'm a little surprised. Is it because of the slipcovers? Because even with the slipcovers, I like them manicured (not sure what the right word is, but to follow very closely the lines of the furniture). I think you nailed the color names I should be using - solid aqua or pale turquoise. The blue that he suggested for the chair doesn't seem to fall into either of those categories, do you think?

Fun2BHere - I feel like you're a kindred spirit. Thanks for your comments to help me verbalize what I'm thinking.

kswl - I agree that the fabrics that he chose work very well together (if that's what your saying), and the blue that he chose has been growing on me the more I live with it, but it doesn't make me smile like my inspiration pictures do. Could it be kind of like I like red and I like yellow, but orange is the middle and I don't like orange? Or is it a brightness issue? I kind of thought that the fabrics that he suggested were a little dull, but is that the better way to go? Kind of like selecting a paint color from a little chip and then when you paint the room that color it's way too bright/bold? Maybe my fabric ideas are too bright?

I asked him about slip-covering the sofa and he suggested that I live with the sofa for a while and then slipcover it if I don't like it because a tailored slipcover with the piping and box pleats is going to be expensive, considering I'm buying a new sofa.

I think the wing chair would look great in stripe, but I was disappointed in the stripe colors.
More these colors:

From Decorating

Than his colors:
From Decorator's Proposed Plans

I know the nail head sofa is one of his favorites, but I think I was focusing on the legs which I do love. I don't think the nail heads go well with the bright colors I'm trying to incorporate?

I love the idea of swivel chairs - do you think they make them to fit my style/taste?

TFP - "bright, fresh, crisp, clear, vibranat, youthful, casual" Exactly what I'm looking for! And the crisp white background in the fabrics. I think those words will help convey why I wasn't thrilled with his fabric choices. He did suggest driftwood finish on the accent chairs on each side of the bay window, and I did like his idea of doing the backs of those chairs in the same fabric as the ottoman, but those chairs don't strike me as being comfortable, which brings up the question of do I need to sacrifice comfort for style? I should have posted all of his suggestions for the painted wood pieces - the TV stand (on the wall in the LR, opposite the fireplace) - the coffee table (or 2 coffee tables, back to back), the end table(s), but I couldn't focus on those because I was so confused with the fabric selections. We didn't get to the paint colors yet, because we ran out of time - should they play a role or should they be chosen after selecting fabrics?
I think pictures 1,2,4 and 9 are from BH&G - I definitely find more rooms I identify with in there than I do on houzz :). I'll check out the blogs tonight - thanks for the suggestions.

carol - I, too, don't care for too much matching pieces - drives my BF who believes everything should match crazy.

nanny2a - thank you for confirming my concerns. I definitely feel better equipped to voice exactly what it is that I think is missing.

So, now, a couple more questions:
I'm supposed to purchase these items from him. He said he gets great prices - but that means we can't even sit in the chairs or on the sofa pre-purchase. I love getting a great price, but what happens if it's not comfortable or doesn't 'fit' - my BF is 6'5", so he prefers longer seats and taller backs. But I (5'6") need to be comfortable with them too.

I am paying him by the hour (more than my architects and finish carpenter charge), so I don't think I'm morally obligated to purchase items from him (although, again, I do like the idea of great prices - but he hasn't quoted prices to me yet, so his definition of great price might differ from mine)

I can imagine spending weekend mornings or early evenings in the sunroom, reading, and I love the style of the chairs he proposed - but they don't strike me as reading chairs...Are armless chairs ever comfortable?

Any thoughts on 1 sofa cushion. I'm sure I don't want 2 cushions, for when we have 3 people sitting on the couch.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment. I really do appreciate all of the advice.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

He said he gets great prices - but that means we can't even sit in the chairs or on the sofa pre-purchase.

That's like buying a car without test driving first.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I'm glad to read that I am not the only one who cannot convey to a decorator or furniture salesperson the look I want to achieve. It truly is frustrating and can be costly if you purchse the "wrong" things.
As for how many people can sit comfortably - have you thought about a couch and either a seatee or chaise lounge + a chair or two?
Your room seems to be large - but it looks like you have some wasted space, just like I have.
As for his fabric choices - I'm not crazy about that stripe - it looks more drab than what you seem to want.
I went w/light colored wood tones, and I am stuggling to find pieces that aren't matchy/matchy but that coordinate nicely.
Has he picked a paint color for you yet?
there are so many fabrics to choose from - I think you need to find your main couch fabric or rug and then look for chair fabrics/drapes/etc.
I would want him to have everything picked - lay it around the room for a couple of days and see if you feel good in the space or if you need a new decorator.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I really hope you post pictures later of how you achieve your vision because I like the clean clear crisp colors in your inspiration pictures but cannot imagine how to achieve the look with natural wood work in a colonial revival.

If you like the lines of the nailhead trim sofa, it's very likely it can be made without the trim, which is what I had to do. I also balked at "buying without trying" and shopped on-line for chairs until I could find a dealer that carried the brand/style I was interested in. My sofa was serendipity - I found it in a store before I found it on-line.

And yes, armless chairs can be comfortable, but not necessarily what you'd want to lounge in to watch TV or curl up in to read a book. Here are mine that are unbelievably comfy:

Photobucket


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

In my experience, and others should chime in, but ID don't get you great prices. They get you discounts off of "prices" that no one actually pays and are very very high to begin with. To me, you use an ID because they have great ideas and/or because they can access things you don't know about or can't find or don't want to bother trying to find.

The chairs we have for reading are incredibly comfy. They are not the style you are going for, but I post them for you to get an idea of what elements make a chair comfy for reading. First, I like the relatively high back, so you can lean against it. Second, it has a long seat. If you are tall, it gives nice leg support (my DH actually was the one who fell in love with this chair, while he sat waiting in it as I completed a different transaction). If you are less tall, it is big enough to curl up in.

Here is a link that might be useful: very comfy reading chair


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Your ID wants you to buy furniture from him and get his "great prices" because he is going to take a percentage of whatever you buy from him. First thing I would want to know is what, exactly, your price is. Even with that info, though, I would never, ever buy a sofa or upholstered chair that I had not sat in myself! And had my significant other sit in.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I can't believe I don't have any updated pictures of our progress - maybe that's a sign that the novelty of remodeling has worn off and now we're dealing with the final decisions...
Here's a few of the before and mid project pics. And a couple of pics for breezy of some of the slabs of marble that vanished in January (I wasn't worried about selecting my marble because there was quite an abundant selection available in January. Then, mid Jan, someone bought almost all of the marble in the area. At the granite place they told me that someone is building a mansion around here and took most of the available marble. All of the pieces had the same name on them, wish now that I would have written it down so I could find out more about him/her) Anyway, we've been waiting an no more has shown up, so we ended up going with BA on our perimeter. I'm not unhappy, just a little disappointed.
House Pics

Anyway, to answer a few questions:
-Yes, I gave the ID links to my inspiration pictures.
-He's probably in his 30's. I'm 51.
-He was recommended by both the architects and the GC. They all specialize in historic renovations (think victorian village houses) The architects recommended 2 GC's and had each submit bids. I'm pretty happy with the one I chose, but sometimes worry about whether the architect's loyalty and the GC's loyalty lie with each other, rather than each to me, since they will continue working together long after my project's finished.
-I didn't realize that he would expect me to purchase items from him. Again, I don't think I have to, but that seems to be his expectation.
-I need to choose wall colors this week - but we've put off discussing it until I've selected fabrics. I may just pick something neutral that goes with the woodwork to see what that looks like. Right now, it's hard to tell because the walls are sort of a yellow gold color.

jeannie01 - it's not only costly if you end up purchasing something you're unhappy with, but it's also costly to have to pay for someone's time when you feel like you're not communicating. I hate to start all over with someone else, but I'm not sure how much more I should invest in this guy.

When we initially spoke, I expressed my concern about trying to achieve the look I wanted without painting the woodwork and his response was "Oh, no problem. We just deal with the color of the woodwork as another color in our palate" Maybe that's why there are more reds, yellows and greens in his fabric choices and fewer pinks, blues and whites, but if you look at the zanzibar striped rug image, it includes those colors plus a brown...

The room is one of those long, somewhat narrow rooms 13'x 24' - yes, I'm a little concerned the sofa is too long, but ID assured me that we had plenty of clearance to get past the TV stand.

chickadee2 - I hate to start all over, but am a little concerned that might be the best choice.

mtnrdredux - Visual clutter is definitely what I'm trying to avoid - I'd love to hear what you think once you've looked at the LR pictures. Also, I've built a huge built-in bookshelf-window seat-bookshelf across one wall and am either going to paint it 2-tone ala:

From Decorating

or a creamy white color with stained counter ala
From Decorating

And the crown molding (very simple 2") is white. So the floors will be 'natural' (new floor boards where we've taken down walls will be stained to match the old natural color), the window trim and sills, baseboard and fireplace will all be the natural. Let me know your thoughts on the visual clutter - I think I could be convinced I should paint the baseboards, but it really seems wrong to do so since they've survived 75 years unpainted.

nini- thanks for the kind thoughts. I absolutely adore your house and envy that you were able to start from fresh. I bought this house because I love old houses and this one actually sits on 6 acres, overlooks a river and is less than 2 miles from work. One of 15 'forgotten tracts' that sit in a township. The downside is we have a well, septic system and no access to natural gas (right now we're using fuel oil). But I'm not complaining, I definitely feel unbelievably fortunate to live here.

I have thought about trying to find sheets or not too expensive cotton fabric similar to the colors I'm considering and draping them over the furniture for a little while to see what that does for me.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I would never buy a chair or sofa that I hadn't tried out first for fit and comfort. Since you and your boyfriend have quite different heights, you may want to buy a sofa that fits you and a chair that fits him. When the two of you are lounging on the sofa, he can put his feet up on the ottoman and you can have a shallower seat that is comfortable for you and most other people. When you have guests, he can sit in the chair that fits him.

The armless chairs with the wood trim that your ID picked are not particularly comfortable and don't fit with your aesthetic at all. I would immediately remove those from the pile of possibilities, if it were my room.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I would never buy furniture for a room that will be the tv watching, lying around, hanging out room without first sitting in it. If it were for a used only when company comes room, maybe, but never for a room you're going to be lounging around in every night. My DH and I have different requirements for a couch to be comfortable. I can't imagine buying one without both of us sitting in it first. In fact, I take my shoes off and lie down and curl up like I do at home to make sure I'm comfortable. Too big an investment to get wrong! We are in the process of looking for couches right now and we've been sitting and lying on them multiple times to make sure.

I don't understand why your ID cannot take you to a store or showroom so you can try them out before you purchase?


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Your decorator's furniture selections look uptight, while your inspiration pictures convey relaxation.
I, too, would not buy a chair or sofa that I have not sat in. Even if you get custom furniture, you should be able to sit in a comparable piece in a decorator showroom.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

It is definitely a lot harder to do the style that you seem to favor with stained woodwork and in a more traditional home. Not impossible, just harder. And I think that the slightly more muted palette that he's suggested might a concession to the stained woodwork and traditional architecture of the home while still trying to give you a style that you love. Aqua's and turquoises and bright yellows and oranges don't play very well with some woodwork tones, and if you were to do some of those clear and bright colors next to some wood trims, well, the result wouldn't be so great.

The best thing to do is to talk to him and ask him if he's having difficulty understanding the look that you are trying to achieve. And then ask him why the suggestions that he's made don't seem to fit well with your inspiration pictures. I'd bet that he tells you that the wood trim and the traditional architecture were modifying influences.

Only you can decide if you "the look" bad enough to paint the woodwork. What it sounds like is that the wood trim has to take precedence. And if that is the case, then your inspiration file needs to find other pictures that show stained woodwork to help you visualize how the more muted tones work better with it. It isn't helping your process to have inspiration pics that aren't representative of your actual home's environment.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

GD - I've tried to find inspiration pictures that show stained woodwork - and it's not that I don't like what I'm finding, but I'm just not finding very much to view. Do you have any suggestions on how/where to search. Painted woodwork just seems to be so 'in' right now, and I do understand why - I, too, love the look. I may end up conceding and painting at least the baseboards. The painter who's painting the house told me he's getting a lot of requests for natural or stained doors, but painted trim.

Would painting the baseboards be a good compromise, or do I need to do the window trim and fireplace too?

In the new parts of the house, like the sun room, the woodwork is going to be painted. So that should make 'the look' easier to achieve in there. Do you think it will look odd having stained woodwork in the living room when it's painted in the sun room?


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

When I see your inspiration photos I think of a magazine called "Coastal Living". I don't know if it's on-line or not (probably is) but look at the magazine. It is light, bright, breezy. I really like the floral that you posted in your OP that your ID suggested (the one underneath the set of 3 which I think are too muted given your inspiration pics) and I can see doing a room from the colours in that fabric swatch. Do one or two armless chairs in that and then do the rest of the room around the colours in the chairs.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Did you pay him by the hour for the room plan, or for shopping as well? If you go elsewhere you may get a bill for his shopping time.

If you just want to test things out, it shouldn't be too hard to find Bernhardt at Lexington Furniture or some other retailer near you.

I agree with GD that you need inspiration pics that more accurately reflect your house, not an idealized setting.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Geesh we could go shopping, a group of us here, and put together your room so easily. I don't like anything your decorator has chosen for you.
You, obviously, have a youthful springy idea and his is fuddy duddy. Stick to your guns, he can help you with what YOU want, not what he chooses. So, that being said, go get a bunch of paint sample papers from the store, the little ones on a strip. and pick out ten of the colors that make your heart sing. Show them to the decorator and tell him this is what you're wanting. If he doesn't deliver, NEXT!!!!! I love the look you love so I want you to get what you want. Good luck and stick to your guns.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Real quick - I just skimmed over responses and wanted to say that if you are not painting your trim than you may want to consider a stained counter and then blow the bookcases out w/ white paint as well as the walls. That way you'll have a small visual continuity of the wood. Try using white modernish ceramic pieces to keep the wood 'light'.

Here's what I did w/ the top of my dark desk that I thought visually lightened it up:
Photobucket

My walls are now white but all of my trim is dark and heavy. To even lighten it all up some more it would be really easy to swap out those black and wood frames for white ones. You'd have a lighter arier feel w/o totally discounting the dark wood that may well be staying.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Time for a new ID....or just go to a place like Ethan Allen where they provide the decorating service for free. This guy just isn't getting that bright and fresh mood you like.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

AnnieDeighnaugh nailed it succinctly but I'll post my 'essay' anyhow!

Sounds to me as if the designer is doing a more formal traditional style and you want a casual eclectic traditional cottage. Without a doubt he's designing for the furniture that is in his best interests to sell you. I would not go a step further without hearing some prices. You have enough inspiration pics for him to design what you like and if he's not doing that he is working for himself, not for you. I don't think you need to learn to speak 'Decorator', he needs to learn to speak 'Client'.

Is your current furniture worn out? If you loved it when you bought it you might find it will work very well in your new (old) home despite the woodwork. For a fresh look you might paint the walls white to strongly contrast with the darker woodwork. If you move in with the furniture you have you'll save a lot of stress and can better evaluate what works.

I would NEVER buy upholstered furniture without sitting in it. NEVER.

Armless chairs are never comfortable for me. To perch on for a very short while but not to relax in. I have hostess chairs as extra seating but that's all they are for. I like to have my arms supported in a chair, altho perhaps not everyone does.

I wouldn't paint the baseboards or any of the trim. Sunroom will be fine with painted ww.

I also cannot get natural gas here but manage very well with propane and electricity (and a wood stove).

I look forward to seeing the pics of your finished home. Sounds wonderful - and it will be even more so when you find what you want and need.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I know the nail head sofa is one of his favorites

Red flag --> It's not your favorite! Pay him for his time and move on.

You seem to know what you like and want, but maybe just don't know how to go about finding? Everything doesn't have to be purchased at once. That's part of the fun of decorating. Please do not go shopping at a Parade of Homes... or at least don't buy a room full. Bits and pieces, maybe.

I think you should also look at Sarah Richardson Design portfolio. She has (had?) a show on HGTV. I watched the one where she was remodeling the family's small house on an island. Linked below, use arrow to go to other projects to the right of "Select a Project."

Here is a link that might be useful: Sarah Richardson Design


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

When I was looking for living room furniture in Dec./Jan. I called a couple of big furniture stores in Orlando (1 hr away) and talked with a decorator in each store. Interesting experience. One jabbered on about traditional leathers and curved legs, but I love contemporary. The second guy was awesome. He told me that self directed clients are harder to work with but more rewarding because the resulting interiors would reflect the individual more closely. We talked for 45 minutes and I felt I had received a mini class in sticking to what I wanted.

I'm 10 yr older than you and have gone from contemporary to more transitional. The furniture I bought is from Hancock and Moore, a traditional leather manufacturer, but the coffee table is simple Italian marble (25 yr old) and end tables are high contemporary. Lush, comfortable and basically me. Now I need to work on getting my daylily pictures printed on canvas and hung. Its fun to see it come together.

Good luck with your projects. Have a heart to heart with your ID but walk if you can't get what you want. And no, I don't think it is a problem to have a sunroom in white trim with stained trim in the rest of the house. This is your place, make it reflect you!


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I found a few possibilties for inspiration pics, but it was tough going. Painted trim is everywhere!

The blue is more muted in this room, but it has lots of whites and neutrals to keep the whole thing light. Note no yellows or oranges anywhere. The wood's orange tones are enough.

This isn't wood, but it's another color than white. You'll note that the turquoise is used mainly as an accent to the yellow based green, which usually looks great with most wood tones.

This is a lot more traditional looking, but you can see how a cobalt/royal blue can work with dark wood. Note that the wood is brown/red based, not orange based. If it were orange oak, the blue would enhance the orange. And the dark combo works in that space only because of the adjacancy of the white room next to it to pour light into it.

This is an example of why blue walls and woodwork generally isn't done often. It just doesn't work well here.

This almost works here thanks to the subtle yellow ceiling combined with the yellow based wood, but this is a good example of how a clear blue often isn't as successful as one with a bit of grey would be. The blue just is a skosh harsh with the wood and would benefit from a bit of toning down, IMHO.

Not wood, but brown is the tone of some woodwork, and you can see how wood in that tone can work with a slightly greyed turquoise. If this were cherry toned reddish, or orange oak, instead of "walnut" it wouldn't work as well. Also, since this has been a popular color combination of recent along with dark wood furniture, perhaps you can find images that speak to you that combine the two. Notice though that you aren't going to be able to get yellow or orange in this room without disrupting it's serene vibe. White or a fresh green would be a possibility though.

I think the lesson for you from these pics is that to get the look you want with the woodwork that you have, you have to use IT as the red, yellow, or orange tone in the room along with a bit of a more toned down blue and lots of white. Pick up the wood tone again somewhere else in a fabric to keep it feeling intentional rather than trying to ignore the wood's color.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Your ID has done a pretty good floor plan. The furniture choices are fine. The nailhead sofa is nice.. If you don't like it, then don't get it; but it's hardly off base considering some of your inspiration pics show Gustavian chairs and other formal shapes. I have a pair of formal Empire chairs in light birdseye with nailheads that I upholstered in a rusty orange suede. They're stunning. Just playing with the fabric freshens them up.

You're right that you're not good at labeling your own style. You think you like tailored upholstered pieces, but in fact all of your inspiration photos show fairly loose, slipcover-looking pieces, some either linen or just outright wrinkled.

If you hate your woodwork, paint it. If you're going to leave it stained, then sorry but all of your choices are going to have to change. You have to work around it, period.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Oh, dear...I hate like the dickens to criticize anyone in our profession, but I agree with everyone who thinks you should pay this fellow off and move on.
It is not your job to learn to speak the language of design. It is his job to find a way to discover your taste and your preferences, and to turn the things you love into a home you want to come back to every day.
Now - do this for me,
Go stand in front of your mirror and say, "I am the client. It's my house, my money, and my dream."
Then stop blaming yourself for the communication problems of your designer. Either he isn't experienced enough to move beyond what he would choose for himself, or he has a limited number of suppliers, and doesn't want to use anyone else whether those things work or not, or (and this is my fear) he isn't respectful enough of your taste and preferences to listen to what you are trying to tell him.
The photos you have shown us make your own style and likes perfectly clear. Find someone who is listening, and don't spend a single nickel on anything you don't love.
And that's the end of my motherly lecture!


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I think he's done an outstanding job of designing around the constraints you've imposed. You are NOT going to have the rooms in your inspiration pictures without painting the woodwork. And Marcolo is spot on in his analysis of the furniture styles in your pics.

You are saying one thing, and showing another.

Either you are not communicating effectively in that you are using terms incorrectly, or you aren't really analyzing your inspiration pics to dissect the individual elements and what makes them work.

I'd tend to say the second would be the culprit here.

I say that mainly because you still haven't come to the conclusion that you can't have a bright almost tropical look with bright blues, yellows and oranges in a traditional American home with stained woodwork unless you are going for something a bit over the top in a sorta ganja influenced Jamaican Colonial look.

And that is the opposite of the restful vibe of most of your pics. You've got to throw a lot of white into the picture to get what those pics have. Starting with the woodwork.

Or simplify and grey/beige down all of that color.

Or pick different inspirations.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Thomas Jefferson painted his woodwork and so did people in the Colonial Revival Era, so I don't think it would be a sin if you did either.

I agree about not buying a chair or sofa without sitting in a floor sample of it. And chairs with arms are definitely more comfortable for reading. That's why they make those bed pillows with arm rests.

Here is a link that might be useful: Colonial Revival Interior Design


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Although I like nailhead detailing on upholstered furniture and ,like the one chosen by the op's designer, That style is conspicuously absent from the inspiration pictures. Almost all the sofas show that casual, rumpled slipcover look, so asking that that be changed would still be my first order of business.

The last inspiration picture, the one with stained wood, was less colorful but still light and modern feeling. Maybe that would be the best direction, with paint colors in the gray and cream ranges for walls and furniture, and off white slipcovers that can be washed.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I can understand not wanting to paint the woodwork. And I agree with the ID that it does just become another color in the palette.

I would go with very light wall color like a cream or ivory with the wood work, then use the fabrics and the upholstered pieces and carpeting to bring the tropical colors into the scheme. I love the high contrast of pale blues with browns as the complimentary colors can make a room pop and add the vibrancy you are looking for.

Here is a link that might be useful: Note colors in this scheme


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Totally agree about painting the woodwork. Some people think it's a sin - other's do not. We compromised at our house - downstairs, except for kitchen. is dark stained wood. DH has mentioned that he's okay w/ me painting the DR trim white. Upstairs is all white trim. Chickadee made a great point about Thomas Jefferson's woodwork. Do what you like. I don't know how to italicize 'you'.

I found this on my Pinterest board this morning. Had to laugh because it was posted by another GWer whose Pinterest board I follow. Here's your room w/ a palette:

And some other photos that I have pinned to my Flashy Fox Board that have some form of stained wood:




Source: bhg.com via Tiffani on Pinterest


Source: bhg.com via Tiffani on Pinterest


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

"And Marcolo is spot on in his analysis of the furniture styles in your pics.
You are saying one thing, and showing another."

I do not agree. To my eyes, the furniture in the OP's inspirations pics are fairly tightly upholstered. (I have NOT looked at anything in the links, though, so bear that in mind please.) The exception is that the OP also likes those pleated whatever-you-call-thems on some pieces.

library girl, I may have missed it, but is there some reason why you can't show us pictures of the stained woodwork you've mentioned?

Also, those who say your ID might be trying to mesh fabric colors w/ the woodwork could well be correct. But regardless, I think the ID's color choices are too muted for your taste. Which is another way of saying, they're muddy.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Again thanks for all of the input and suggestions. I've read and re-read everyone's comments several times and am trying to digest everything.

GD - Thank you so much for the new pictures. I saved the first one to my inspiration collection - I think I could be happy with that as a compromise. I managed to track down the original source for the picture and found some more pictures to give me ideas - I really like the 3 paint colors (I'll call blueish, greenish and yellowish) used in the rooms, but the article didn't mention colors. Do you have any suggestions on where to start?

From Decorating

From Decorating

From Decorating

Then, if I decide that doesn't give me enough of the look I'm trying to achieve, I can always paint the woodwork as my fallback plan.

marcolo - I've never said that I hated my woodwork. The whole reason I hired a professional was because I wanted to try to find something that would give me the feel I wanted without having to paint the woodwork. And the reason that I didn't describe to the ID what I like is because I know I don't recognize what the pictures have in common that I like - sort of like being color blind. That the reason I gave him a link to the rooms that appeal to me. Isn't figuring out what the rooms have in common and what style it is that I like what I'm paying him to do? The very reason I posted my pictures and his suggestions on this forum is because I know what he proposed isn't what I was thinking. I have no complaints with the floorplan - there's not really a lot of options anyway and that's pretty much how the living room is set up now. The sunroom, (my piano is in storage) was designed specifically to be a music room/reading room and drawing room (DD is a artist), so again, not a lot of choices there either.

I was ok with most of the proposed furniture styles, but questioned how comfortable they would be for the given purpose. We don't have a family room or maybe I should say, this room IS the family room. I didn't think the fabric choices matched what I was going for, and I tried to tell him that. His response was to try to convince me it actually was. He pointed out the blue for the large chair and that some of the pieces (the skirted ottoman for the sun room from Ballards) was exactly what was in one picture. So, I left the meeting confused that maybe it was me who didn't get it. I'm not sure what more I could have done to get my point across - so I came here for advice. My goal isn't to make his job difficult. It's to find something that will make me happy.

bronwynsmom - thank you for your encouragement (which is what my mom calls her motherly lectures) - They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and I had plenty of pictures to make up for my words :) I did want to be able to respond to his comment that what he showed me was what came from my pictures. And some of the folks here obviously agree. And there's plenty here who agree with me that they don't make sense. I'm growning more convinced that there are 2 schools of thought here (they match/they don't) and he and I are just in different schools.

Holly - I didn't give him any constraints. When we first met I asked him if it was possible to achieve the look I wanted without painting the woodwork. All along I've said I'm willing to paint it as a last resort - he said not to worry, it wasn't a problem, that he would just treat the wood as another color in the room. He didn't say, oh, if you don't paint the wood you can't achieve the look you're striving for. And I'm not saying one thing and showing another. I know much better than to think that I could possibly describe what it is I like. Not my forte and I know it. With my architects, I would come armed with pictures and they would say - you like shadow lines, let's do this. Or you like symmetry, so let's do this. I speak with pictures. I gave him pictures. I didn't say tailored. I didn't say formal shapes. I didn't say Gustavian chairs because I don't know what they are. I said these are the pictures of the rooms that I'm drawn to. And he didn't tell me that by keeping the woodwork unpainted, I'd have to end up with a "sorta ganja influenced Jamaican Colonial look." And if he had said that, I wouldn't have a clue what he meant. He would have to show me a picture so I could see if I liked the ganja influenced Jamaican Colonial look. Maybe I would. When I left the first meeting with him, I felt assured that he knew what I liked (from the pictures) and the unpainted woodwork wouldn't be an issue (because that's what he said).

Chickadee2 - thank you for the great link. I perused it last night and will read again tonight. If painting the woodwork is what it takes, I'm ok with that. I just don't want to start there.

kswl - I agree with you about the last inspiration picture - because GD posted it and I liked it so much I saved it to my file late last night :) That's my current strategy to try. And I will start with the very light wall color, just trying to decide whether it should be the cream or ivory, or something like the blueish, greenish, yellowish above.

TheFoxesPad - I have that very palette picture as one of my inspiration pictures, and the pictures that went with it showing the furniture in more detail (pictures 13, 14, 15) And he did propose the ottoman that you see in the corner by the chair for the sun porch.

luckygal - my old furniture is pretty much brand new - our last house was one of those 5 level splits - very modern - and we rarely used the living room - I gave away the couch and the rest are in storage until I'm sure I don't want/need it. I may use the slipper chairs and ottoman and round end table in the sun room while I'm trying to figure out what I want. I thought they would be ok with the piano (they were all together in the last house) but the ID said they don't match the style I'm trying to achieve in this house. This is pretty much the "Parade" furniture, as we were moving out of the house. I do love the furniture look - as it was in this house.

OldHouseFurniture

So, I'd like to play around with some paint colors tonight because I'm going to have to tell the painter what I want in the next few days - can anyone suggest a blueish, greenish and yellowish color, similar to the pics above to start with?


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

lynxe - thanks for your comments. The pictures of the woodwork are buried in the house album, but I'll post a couple here to save those who don't want to click through:
LR - White door leads to sun room:
From House Pics

Window to left of fireplace is changing to a door that matches the one on the right. Will lead to new sun room. Temporary bookshelf on back wall was replaced with floor to ceiling bookshelves with window seat - across the entire back wall.
From House Pics

Looking at the picture above, I don't think it would work to paint the mantel anyway, given the white marble surround.

This is the door to basement and broom closet doors - I think they reflect the woodwork color the best:

From House Pics


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

OK, you're dealing with orange wood.

Do you see how the fabrics he chose with the muted orange of the wood work much better than the clear orange choices in your inspiration?


More possible inspiration pictures. See how most of the wood used with bright colors is brown, not orange. If your wood could be stained a dark brown with no orange overtones, it would work better. I found most of these images by choosing "tropical room with wood" or "Mexican room with wood", so consider looking at those types of homes for inspiration. they will pretty much all involve white walls and brown wood with the color done secondarily as painted pieces or fabric pieces.


Here's one with blues, yellows, and oranges with wood. It's a much livlier feel than if white woodwork were involved, and it has to have the white walls as the backdrop to all that color or else go into overload land.




I think this might be what was meant by "Ganja inspired Jamaican Colonial" above. It's very colorful, and it works with the dark brown (not orange) wood, but it's not a quiet look at all. Very exuberant and Betsey Johnson Island looking.


If you aren't very careful, you end up in Mexican Restaurant Land rather than ecclectic and colorful.


White woodwork here, but lots of dark brown wood and greyed down colors.


This is mostly just a white room with brown--not orange--woodwork and accents of orange. The orange is only possible because the woodwork isn't orange.


Colorful and bright in greens. Greens typically are easier to work with for stained woodwork because the yellow component ties in the the bit of yellow that most wood has.


This has white woodwork, but would work equally well with brown. It also has the brown seagrass beds and brown blinds which could be wood and still work. There's a lot of white and brown, and the blue is used only as an accent.


A hotel lobby, but a lot of wood (brown again, not orange) and accent colors.


Lots of blues with golden toned wood which takes the place of yellow in this palette. It would not have worked as well with orange toned wood.


Brown wood again (and green) used with blue. No orange or yellow anywhere.


A wooden cabana house. You see how all of the bright colors with the wood gives a much busier and more energetic feel than if it were contrasted against white wood?


Another brown and white with turquoise accent. Wouldn't work with orange wood.


Another "boring" white walls and brown wood room that is totally made by the colorful fabric choices.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I am not an ID and certainly disagree with the one you are working with, library_girl. I also don't understand why so many on here are saying that your color choices don't go with the color of your woodwork. I wish I knew how to post all of the images that I copied and pasted to a word document. The woodwork color looks beautiful (IMO) with the color that library_girl likes. Perhaps you can do the same to see what I mean. I copied the very last picture above, the second picture that library_girl posted, and the color scheme picture that TheFoxesPad posted today at 9:15 a.m.

I say insist on going with the colors you like, library_girl, get rid of your current ID, and move your furniture from the old house into the new house. It seems to me that some of it would work nicely - may have to recover some pieces, paint some pieces, and gift other pieces. Its worth a try.


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My post above

Woops, I posted after live_wire_oak, so now that changes the "very last picture above" to the last picture that library_girl posted at 11:21 a.m. today.


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Rug

library-girl, I still believe your preferred color or rug looks and works better the the striped color of your ID's selection.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

This is an interesting conversation. I see lots of rust and dull colors in your ID's choices. I'm no designer but I have a decent eye and can visualize a room with your wood, rich creamy or watery aqua walls, fabrics in soft aqua/turquoise, creamy/natural, and accents of soft golden yellow, leafy green, pale lime/apple green, muted orange, richer turquoise. Your inspiration photos are all fresh, but that's lost in your ID's choices. I believe you can do "fresh" with your wood! Furniture is so expensive and such a long-term investment that I wouldn't buy a single piece that you're not in love with. I'd look for another designer or go to a couple of stores that have a look you like and get some suggestions before moving on.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I love the fabrics your ID proposed, to me it seems like he "gets" what you are going for. As for sofa and chair styles, can you ask him to see them in person somewhere in a showroom ? or at another client's home ?

the accessorizing of your rooms would be what would bring in more of the colors you want to capitalize on.
it's too bad you have to pick paint colors before you nailed down your fabrics,
can that decision be postponed ?


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

LWO is 100% right. You have to design a room around your givens, and right now orange wood is a given. You can't stop people before entering and tell them to ignore it. So your inspiration pics don't apply. Some people seem to be implying that if you throw a princessy huff, the color wheel will change just for you. It won't.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

OK, I didn't realize my wood was orange, but I guess it is.

LWO & marcolo Given that I have orange wood, do I have to limit myself to muted colors? Do I have to use a muted orange? Do I have to use red? I so much prefer pinks and blues, esp. blues. Do you think this rug is too bold for my wood:

From Decorating

There's lots of muted colors that I like - if pastel colors are the same thing as muted.
Would this work (omitting the bright pillows):
From Decorating

I like this green and it appears to go with wood my color, don't you think?
From Decorating

Are these window frames orange too? would this work, or is it all of the other woods that make it work?
From Decorating

I'm honestly trying to see if I understand what you're suggesting. And I do appreciate your patience as I'm sure this must seem so elementary to you. I'm hoping for that lightbulb to click on any time now.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I would start with one of the pale blues you like and neutrals. Either put the blue on the walls and keep the furniture neutral or vice versa. Once you get all of the major pieces in place, then you can add a bold color with accessories/art/pillows if you decide you want/need it.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

I love that last photo and hope you can build on that idea.

When you had the wall of bookshelves built in the LR, did you leave them as stained wood or have them painted white? White painted bookcases would go a long way towards "neutralizing" the effect of the stained wood trim, IMO.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Blue and orange are complementary colours and you can definitely and easily use them in the same room. And no you don't have to limit yourself to muted colours.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Gail, have you seen the thread about Pipdog's chairs? Her home is stunning and incorporates some of the colors you like. To my eye, her floor has some orange tones.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pipdog's living room


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

"LWO is 100% right. You have to design a room around your givens, and right now orange wood is a given. You can't stop people before entering and tell them to ignore it. So your inspiration pics don't apply. Some people seem to be implying that if you throw a princessy huff, the color wheel will change just for you. It won't."

Nope. I still disagree. The floors in library girl's LR (top picture, which includes the white door to the sun room) and the floors in the first two inspiration pictures are fairly similar to the floor in "This is mostly just a white room with brown--not orange--woodwork and accents of orange. The orange is only possible because the woodwork isn't orange."

The floor in library girl's LR is the largest wood element in the room. The door & window trim and fireplace surround would play a role in the room, I agree, but if you look at the 1st two inspiration pictures, what really makes the look - I think - are the bright walls; bright, solid furniture fabric; and lively accents on pillows, rugs, and etc.

I do agree that colors other than turquoise might work better with your wood, but I don't see it as a given. If you are open to color changes, then I do agree that green could work better. I also agree that turquoises and light blues work beautifully with dark wood.

library girl, why not grab some fabric swatches or even paint large squares of paper and place them in your room? You can determine empirically whether a color scheme based largely on white + pale blue would work with the woodwork. In fact, slap some white paint or primer on a wall next to your woodwork, and then do the test.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

There is a whole Design Around This thread on the kitchen forum devoted to Keeping the Golden Oak. It would greatly benefit you (and a lot of others) to read it.

Opposites on the color wheel make each other look more intense. Red makes green "greener" and blue makes orange "oranger". That's the big problem with orange woodwork. A lot of things make it just shout, "ORANGE". Not only is there nothing that rhymes with it, there isn't a lot that plays well with it at all.

Greens can work to tone it down by using the commonality of yellow.



More orange, in the red orange terracotta tones (NOT citrus orange) can make it seem less orange, but then, you end up feeling like you are inside a flowerpot.



Grays can work, if it has a bit of a green cast, but most orange woodwork makes grays seem like blues next to the orange.



But what happens when you DO put actual blue next to the orange is that you REALLY notice the orange in the woodwork (not in a good way) and the blue shouts a lot louder. Blues can get in your face very quickly when paired with orange wood.






If you want a room that shouts ORANGE and BLUE at you every time you enter, you can use that to your advantage. You build off of the tension and energy that the contrast creates. That's not the vibe in the OP's inspiration pics. They are all calm, lower energy rooms based off of the freshness of white, with energizing bits of color in the mix. "Serene and fresh" would be the words that I would use for the inspiration album. The only way to get that exact vibe is to have the white woodwork. If that's off of the table, then you have to tone the clearness of the colors down to tone the energy level down and to use the perception of the inspiration colors rather than the actual exact inspiration colors.

The orange terracotta tones of the wood set the whole palette. That becomes the orange in it. A greyed down blue will look much bluer next to that, and you use that trick of the eye to create the "blue" tones in the room. A dark cream becomes yellow, and a grayed sage will be the green. The eye will look at the whole thing together and see orange and blue, even though the actual colors used are terra cotta and gray.

And that is exactly the color palette that the designer chose here. No, it's not the OP's exact color inspiration. But, it WILL give you the feel of the inspiration, whereas using the exact colors would give you a visually busy and much more high energy tone. It would be a club over the head of COLOR rather than a nice nudge of color.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Well put LWO, I'll try and find the link to the design around this thread.


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

Found the link to Keeping the Golden Oak. Gosh everyone has a great sense of humor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Design Around 9: Keeping the Golden Oak


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RE: Can someone help me speak 'Decorator'?

"And that is exactly the color palette that the designer chose here. No, it's not the OP's exact color inspiration. But, it WILL give you the feel of the inspiration, whereas using the exact colors would give you a visually busy and much more high energy tone. It would be a club over the head of COLOR rather than a nice nudge of color."

And THAT is why folks hire designers! ;) This has been such an interesting thread to follow. FWIW, I like the designer's fabrics but agree that the shapes could be re-evaluated.


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