Is That a Trend or a Classic? Matte Brass/Gold

My Client: “Wow! I just saw the most amazing kitchen! It had navy blue cabinets, marble countertops, white subway tile and gorgeous matte brass accents… I love those gold toned accents, but do you think that’s too trendy?”

Me: “uuuuuummmmm…” head scratch, reads clients face carefully, “maaaaaaybe…”

 

A gorgeous blue and gold kitchen by Marie Flanigan Interiors in Houston, TX

 

Seriously, I walk a very fine tightrope between not offending my clients and telling them the truth. That usually means that I have to suppress my inner Julia Sugarbaker and stop myself from railing about the virtues of timeless, classic design. That is my design philosophy. Build the design with a foundation of timeless classic pieces and add bits of color and trend like sprinkles and the cherry on top of a sundae. I work to help my clients identify on a deep level what their personal aesthetic is. We work together to identify their core style, which trends are resonating with them, and how we can create a unique look using this information.

When I get a request that is filled to the brim with trend, I hit my internal pause button.

To set the record straight, I don’t think marble counters are ultra trendy. Nor do I think subway tiles are trendy. In fact, history tells us that they are very classic looks. Also, don’t misunderstand, I also LOVE the look I’m describing. However, navy blue cabinets and brass fixtures are BOLD choices. Most people would get tired of looking at them day after day. Then, they go into “I HATE this mode”. If you have money to spend re-vamping your kitchen every time you become overwhelmed or bored, then go for it! If you live in a different demographic, my advice is choose one trend that is inexpensive and easy to reverse.

In this case, that item would be the brass fixtures. Although drawer pulls, lighting, and plumbing fixtures are not inexpensive, especially not the new gold toned finishes, they are less expensive and easier to replace than cabinets.

Looking to the past always gives us an idea of what has staying power and what is trendy. In that case silver tones rule, particularly for plumbing fixtures. As we look back in time, the gold tones come and go, but the silver tones seem to be a constant. As hardware for doors and lighting, brass finishes have some staying power, typically the flat or brushed finishes have had a little more staying power. We’ve seen gold tones come and go throughout the American Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco periods. The last time brass and gold tones were popular was in the 1980’s and that time around nearly ruined the Baby Boomer and Gen Xers taste for gold metals because that round of brass was somehow extra brass-y… and extra offensive. Alas, 80’s nostalgia is back – music, movies, fashion, television – and with it come the gold tones!

 

The 1980’s brass we all love to hate!

 

So, my verdict? TREND

…But, its a good trend, a fun trend that you can implement in small doses and enjoy until it fades. I’m going to give you three tips for incorporating it into your kitchen or bath.

Tip #1: Mix It Up

Right now it’s totally cool to mix metals, so you can add some lovely brass accent lighting to your chrome and stainless kitchen metals. The key is keeping everything balanced. If you add just one gold toned piece, like a matte brass faucet you’ll want to add some accessories in the same tone. You can use a brass toned basket or possibly a multi- brass tiered tray on your counter for a fruit display. Ideally, you’d want to repeat the color a minimum of three times to create harmony.

Gold mixes well with stainless in this beautiful kitchen by Elizabeth Laws Design in Baltimore.

 

Tip #2: Light Up the Night

Use your lighting fixtures as your brass accent. In the picture below the designer has only used the brass color in the lighting, but the lighting fixtures are large enough to make a substantial contribution to the room. You can also use the above tip to round out the distribution of the color into your accessories if you like. However, the lighting alone is enough to make sense.

Gold lighting provides a delightful accent in this kitchen remodeled by Advanced Renovations in Charlotte, NC and photographed by Jim Schmid.

 

Tip #3: Get a Handle on It

Do just your door hardware – knobs, handles, and pulls – in a gold tone metal. This will be enough repetition to give a cohesive look, and again, it makes sense to just do these items as a stand alone metal. You can see that the designer only used the gold color in the hardware and used traditional stainless and chrome where they are appropriate. It looks fantastic. Hardware is relatively inexpensive, it can be easily switched out when you get tired of the gold, but they make a big overall impact.

 

Matte Brass drawer pulls really add some zing to these navy blue drawers.

 

Do you think you’ll try the matte brass/gold tone metal trend? You can shop the look here and here.

Are you still confused about how to add the look into your next project? Schedule your Design Style Discovery Consultation here.

By the way, none of these GORGEOUS kitchens are work that I have done. I am providing links to the source for each of these under the image. The boards are mine though and feel free to shop the look!

 

Take the Pain Out of Painting

You’ve been thinking about painting.

I see you there, standing in front of a wall with at least a half-dozen paint samples painted in 12″ squares. Completely confused. This one’s too dark. This one’s too blue. The last batch looked too yellow. You’re wondering how anyone ever picks the right color. Eventually, you pick one, it might even be a paint you never sampled; maybe it’s just the least offensive of the bunch. On a wing and a prayer you paint the room. Hopefully, it looks close to the color you had hoped for, but quite frequently, it doesn’t. It’s too bright or it looks like a completely different color once it’s on all four walls.

One of my client’s calls it the “color crazies”.

Why is the painting process so painful? For so many people, thinking about painting a room or two brings a level of anxiety that induces sheer panic. But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you arm yourself with a little bit of knowledge, selecting paint colors for your next project will be easy!

Step One: Read the chips

The first step in learning how to select paint colors like a pro is understanding how to “read” paint chips. 

The most tinted colors are at the top of the paint chip and the most shaded colors are at the bottom. You can add black to any paint color (or hue) to make it a shade darker or white to any color to make it a tint lighter. Paint manufacturers, like Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore already offer you multiple shades and tints of a particular color, that’s why they have about 7 shades or tints for each hue. Typically, the paint you purchase at stores like Home Depot or Lowes, won’t have as many tints and shades for each hue, but you can ask them to add white or black to tint or shade the color to your liking. You can also tone down a bright color by adding gray.

Undertones are the hints of color you can see “under” the color itself. So, gray isn’t just black + white = gray and pink isn’t just red + white = pink. When you compare the various paint chips to each other you will see these undertones appear. This will also be most obvious in the darker colors on the chip. However, don’t be fooled! Those undertones will definitely show up when the color is on the wall, even in the lighter hues. I’ve had clients that are particularly sensitive to blue undertones in colors and if a color has even a hint of blue undertone, they’ll only see blue. If you know you prefer warmer neutrals steer clear of anything with a black, purple, or blue undertones and of you prefer cooler neutrals steer clear of anything with red, yellow, or tan undertones. Consider the undertone when selecting neutral paint colors. Look to the darker colors on the chip to more easily see the undertone. 

Standard chips have multiple tints and shades.

Step Two: Flip your chip

Aside from the various tints and shades of your chosen hue, the back of the paint chip will also have some useful information. The most important information is the Light Reflective Value (LRV). Light Reflective Value is a scale that tells you how much light will reflect from the surface. The whitest white colors have the highest scores and the darkest black colors have the lowest scores. You will use this number to tell you how light or dark a color is when you compare it to white or any other color. The LRV will also give you a clue  how dark or light the color will appear when it is on all four walls. You can use the LRV to help you with the next step.

 

Step Three: Prime first

You’ll want to put primer on your wall prior to painting samples on it. This helps reduce interference from the original wall color. You don’t need to prime the entire wall, a large section will do. This will eliminate any interference from the color your wall is already painted. For example, if your wall is a deep red color and you are want a light gray with blue undertones, the blue undertones will be exaggerated and the paint will look pale in comparison.

Primer will have an LRV of >/=90. When you put any color on top of the white primer it will look dark. Remember the LRV of the lightest color on the chip is around 75. So, that little patch of LRV 75 will be sitting there absorbing more light, while the primer will be reflecting almost all of the light. So, by comparison, the sample will look dark, but it’s not! An LRV of 60 or more is still quite light and once it is on all 4 walls it will reflect a lot of light. Conversely, if it’s a darker color it will absorb a lot of light and darken your room. 

 

Reference Color: it’s difficult to see the undertones of your color when you paint directly over the old color because you are referencing the old color to the new color.
When you prime the wall first, your only reference color is white. These are all light colors, but compared to pure white, they appear darker.

 

Key Take-Aways:

Paint the wall with primer first. Don’t paint the new wall color options directly onto the old color.

The lightest color on the chip is actually pretty light, but not as light as “white” colors.

Be aware of undertones. They may be pronounced when compared to white primer.

Don’t just compare your color to the stark white primer. Use your knowledge of light Reflective Value (LRV) to help you gauge how dark or light the sample will actually look on your wall.

Hopefully, these tip will help you take the pain out of your next painting project! You can download this information in my design guide called “3 Steps to Easier Paint Sampling” here.

Still feel like you need some help with your color selections? Schedule your Design Style Consultation with Paradigm Interiors here.

 

 

How Much Should I Spend on a Sofa?

How much should I spend on …. a Sofa?

You know the old saying “you get what you pay for?” When it comes to selecting furniture, a truer statement has never been said. Well… to a point. Sure there are some brands in furniture for which you will be paying for the name (I see you Mrs. Hunt). Not that I wouldn’t absolutely advocate a client going all-in and buying a Baker Sofa if they could afford it and wanted it. What I’m saying is that there is a quality tipping point. You can get a well made sofa that will last for years without spending a small fortune.

Sofas, and other upholstered pieces, happen to be a piece of furniture where quality can be all over the map and where “you get what you pay for” really comes into play. Where upholstered furniture differs from case goods (dressers, tables, etc) is that you cannot see the guts of a piece of furniture that is covered in foam, down, and fabric. You have to ask about the quality indicators. So, what are these mysterious qualities?
1. The spring system.
2. The filling.
3. The frame.
4. Bonus: fabric

How do all these quality indicators shake out? This is a quick guide to the cost vs. quality debate.

Super Budget. The lifecycle on this category is very short. You can expect these soft upholster pieces of furniture to look good no more than five years with very light use. Pieces of furniture in this category use lower quality materials including the fabric, filling, and spring systems. In this category you will find retailers such as IKEA, Rooms to Go, Ashley Home Furniture, American Signature. Most families with children will find that these super budget upholstered goods will look worn with six months to one year of heavy repeated use. The frames in these pieces are also made of inferior woods, such as MDF and plywood. Sometimes they even use cardboard to shape the arms. They also are stapled and glued and may not have any other joinery beyond that. This may be an option if you do have young children and you want something inexpensive to get you through the early years. However, if you can afford a high-quality sofa, you can use stain resistant fabric and/or have it recovered when your children are older. You cannot recover a super budget or budget sofa.

Expected investment: sofa: $400-800, sectional- $800-$1500

Ikea Söderhamn Sectional Sofa, $1200 Retail

Budget. Technically, this is where furniture stores like West Elm, Pier One, and even sometimes Pottery Barn would fall. The cost of their upholstered goods is a little bit higher, but the structural quality is not much better than the “super budget” category. You may find better joinery in the frame and the frame may be made of pine, instead of plywood, but overall these have a short life. The spring systems are usually lower gage sinuous springs, meaning that the couch will sink after a short period of time and the foam used in the back and seat cushions will also lose their loft in a year or two. In this category, you may also find some ability to customize the sofa, but it will be fairly limited. You can expect these pieces to last 3 to 5 years, but with heavy use they may look very worn after six months to a year. Expected investment: sofa- $800-2000, sectional- $1500-4000.

Pier 1 Ecru Rolled Arm Sofa, $900

 

Pottery Barn Comfort Slip Covered Sofa, $3000-$4300

Mid-grade. In the mid-grade upholstery you will find a combination of quality.  Most sofas in this category will be semi-custom, though there are some mid-grade manufacturers, like Universal, who offer little to no custom options. You will probably see that these pieces will have better joinery but may have lower quality fillers and lower gauge sinuous spring systems. However, you also may find eight way hand tied spring systems in this category. For instance, The sofa sold at places retailers like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel are made by companies like Lee Industries. They may have eight way hand tied spring systems and higher quality filling in the cushions. This means that this couch can be reupholstered. They may even have a warranty on the cushions and frames. Sofas in the mid-range price point can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. However, because of the higher-quality spring systems they can be reupholstered and the cushions re-stuffed, and thus, their life can be extended. Expected Investment: sofa- $3000-$5000, sectional- $3500-$8000 depending on fabric selection.

Eight-Way Hand-Tied Springs
Lee Industries 1303-03, retails around $4000 depending on fabric selected

 

Restoration Hardware Maxwell Sectional, $2400-$3800 depending on depth and fabric

 

High-end. How are you and is a category where the highest level of craftsmanship is employed and these are “heirloom” quality pieces. This means that they will last a very, very long time. The foam and batting used in the seat cushions is of the highest quality. They often have a down/feather blend top layer and a spring inner core, like a mattress. They always have eight way hand tied springs, if they are not sleeper style sofas. The frames are crafted with high quality, kiln dried lumber and joinery. They can be fully customizable or “designer”. The prices can vary widely, but typically the expected investment is >$7500.

Holly Hunt Waterloo Sofa

My personal mantra on sofas is invest. I’ve heard people say “…but, my taste might change! Then I’ll be stuck with a sofa that doesn’t work for my new style.” I would invite you to think back to all the previous sofas you’ve owned. Aside from the fabric, were they really all that different? Mine haven’t been. My advice is, if you can afford it, get something with a classic shape that will work with many styles. It’s an item worth saving for. You’ll be able to re-upholster it down the road if it’s of excellent quality.

If  you’re in the market for a new sofa and need some help or looking to redo your living room, schedule your Design Style Consultation with  Paradigm Interiors here!