Welcome to Design track mind by Melissa Gulley

I am an interior designer from Newton, MA having a lot of fun writing this blog between client appointments, kid stuff, kid school stuff, dog stuff, husband stuff, husband's company stuff (http://www.fueldog.com/), life stuff, old house stuff, family stuff, extended family stuff and the rest of the detail stuff. I am not a writer (clearly) so please ignore the typo's, spelling mistakes and desperate need for proofreading.

How to Hire the Right Design Professional. Decorator vs. Interior Designer

A couple of posts back, I tried to answer the question “Why hire an interior Designer?”.  Now I would now like to go into the natural follow up to that question.  What type of Design Professional is right for you and how do you find the right person?

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TV Show Designing Woman

There are a few different types of Design Professionals you could hire for your job.  The decision of who to work with is very important, as it is a very close relationship based on many levels of trust.  This is someone with whom you will work with for at least a few months and usually more like a year or two (I have many clients that I have been working with going on 10 years).  You have this person to your home and they work with you to make decisions about how you want to live.  It is a very intimate working relationship. 

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The first decision you will need to make is do you want a “Decorator” or an “Interior Designer”.  A Decorator is usually someone who handles the finishing details of a project: color, window treatments, furniture, rugs and accessories.  An Interior Designer does everything a Decorator does but also can be involved in the architectural design and building process (not in place of architect or builder but in conjunction).  An Interior Designer reviews architectural drawings, lighting plans, molding, millwork and built in plans, bath and kitchen design, tile layout and design, flooring decisions….then they finish with the color, furniture, carpets, window treatments, accessories, art, etc..  The Interior Designer can provide a soup-to-nuts solution, from construction design to finished house, or help you with any point in between.

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Not to confuse you more, but there is another decision to make when it comes to hiring a Design Professional.  Do you want to hire this person for their style, or do you want to hire someone to interpret your style? 

There are many Decorators out there who have incredible “signature” styles and your house can look just like that with the guidance of this type of person.  Sort of like,  if you know that you love Ralph Lauren clothing exclusively - you love the look and fit and the store is your only “Go to” destination for your wardrobe, then you might find someone who’s “signature” style you love and go for it!  Look at their portfolio- it will likely reflect slight variations on a single style and be very consistent. 

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Ralph Lauren Home

If you want your house to reflect you, then look for someone who has the ability to listen and understand exactly what you want.  Most people in this category may know they want their house to reflect them and their family but they may not know exactly what they want or how to achieve what they’re imagining.  This is where the Designer proves their value.  They will guide you and your family (always balancing the individual needs of all members of the family… can you say design therapist!) through the process of decision making and learning about your likes and dislikes.  This type of Designer must learn who the clients are, how they live, work, relax and entertain, where and what they study, their hobbies, ethnicities/family history, where they’ve traveled, etc…the complete identity and function of the family.  Then the Designer sets forth to help make all design decisions through the filter of this client’s identity.

When looking for a Decorator or Interior Designer ask your friends, neighbors, co- workers, relatives.  Word of mouth is the best way to find a designer.  When looking at a portfolio (keep in mind unless you’re hiring this person for their style) the pictures represent the client the Designer was working with, not the Designer’s taste or your project.  You may really like a room but hate the weird chairs flanking the fireplace- naturally you would doubt the Designer’s judgment.  But don’t - most likely those chairs were the client’s favorite grandmother’s and the Designer needed to use them to make the client happy.  The best way to vet a Designer after you’ve gotten their name is to not only look at the portfolio, but to ask their former client’s if they are happy with their home.  Did it turn out how they wanted, did they have a good trust relationship with the designer, did they have fun and enjoy the process?  Secondly, meet the designer.  Do you like this person, do you think you could spend a lot of time with this person, do you feel listened to and heard, can this person make you feel confident in the decisions you need to make (all 300 million of them). 

At the end of the “finding a designer process” the final decision comes down to a gut reaction.  There is no science here - is this person likeable and good at what they do, do they make their clients happy?

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I have never actually had clients do this but I have received very nice notes of gratitude.

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Minimalism SUCKS!

As I’m sure you’ve gathered from the title, I am not a minimalist.  I personally think minimalism is cold, boring and just plain no fun! I need to borrow some quotes from the USA’s resident fun decorator, Jonathan Adler.  In his manifesto he says, “We believe in irreverent luxury,We believe that your home should make you happy, We believe minimalism is a bummer, We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing, We believe tassels are the earrings of the home, We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always, We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants, We believe colors can't clash.” 

Back to me.  Now I must stress- the opposite of minimalism is clutter and that is also something I’m not into at all (AT ALL- it really makes me crazy!) 

I advocate controlled vignettes that allow personality to permeate your interior.  Achieving this, however, is something of an art form and is personal to the people who live in the house. 

You also need a place for the eye to rest, so be sure there is empty space. 

A vignette is a still life arrangement on a table, mantle book shelf, nightstand etc., that is balanced with tall and short, textured and slick, color and lack thereof. 

Most of all it’s a collection of things that make you happy and mean something.

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Cote de Texas

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Lindsey Harper

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Melissa Gulley Portfolio

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Jane McGarry

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Ludwig Interior

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Melissa Gulley Portfolio

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House Beautiful

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Lindsey Harper

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Branca Interiors

Here are some links to articles on how to create the perfect table top Vignette:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/10820?utm_campaign=updates&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery5

http://www.ehow.com/how_5143987_design-tabletop-display.html

http://www.thelennoxx.com/?p=4713

http://www.hgtv.com/decorating/8-tips-for-making-beautiful-vignettes/index.html

http://interiordecorating.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_style_and_accessorize_a_coffee_table

I will leave you with a little more Jonathan Adler.  Here are a few of his “10 commandments of a happy chic home”  totally Hysterical- go to his web site www.johathanadler.com for more fun!
#1
Thou shalt embrace maximalism.

Thou wilt find minimalism to be something of a bummer in thy abode. Thou wilt grow tired of an endless sea of beige and thou wilt long for a splash of color & a dollop of pattern! Bargello pillows, Furnace bottles, and rustic modern lamps - these shalt be the accessories that add some panache to your pad.
#3
Thou shalt buy an X-Bench.

Then, thou shalt buy another. Thou shalt use them in pairs, perfect under thy console or placed near thy sofa. Thou shalt rest thy feet upon them & so will thy guests. In fact, thy guests might even fight over who gets to rest upon them. Therefore, thou shalt establish house rules about thy X-Benches. Perhaps thou should consider a sign up sheet.
#5
Thou shalt mix fancy with frisky.

Thou shalt not be overly formal, for if thou art, thou will be sad. Conversely, thou shalt not be overly whimsical, for if thou art thou will not feel chic. Therefore, thou shalt embrace a mix, pairing the chic classical foundation - excellent proportions, classic furniture - with a layer of playful punctuation. Then thou shalt rest.
#6
Thou shalt honor the funsters of yore.

David Hicks, Alexander Girard, Piero Fornasetti, Bonnie Cashin, Bjorn Wiinblad - if thou dost not knoweth them, thou should. Thou can use Google Images to learn more about them and thou shalt channel their fun, idiosyncratic, playful spirit in thine own interiors. Thy home will be fun, happy, and chic.
#7
Thou shalt not commit murder,

unless thou art murdering for a decorative accessory.
If thou should find thyself at one of our stores and seeth the last bird bowl on our shelf, thou shalt feel free to use whatever means necessary to obtain that special something.

7 Tips for the Perfect Powder Room

This (below) is your basic run of the mill powder room.  Seriously boring- actually painful!  But, you go in quick, you get your business done and you’re out.  Utilitarian, no great experience, just getting the job done.  But why just ”Get by” when you can really “LIVE”.  Spiffing up a powder room can be very affordable and easy due to it’s small size.  It the perfect room to “LIVE LARGE” even if you don’t have the courage to go big in the rest of the house.

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Virginia sweet pea

I think Powder rooms are one of my favorite rooms to design.  They are usually small, cozy and you are generally only in them for a few minutes at a time.  Thus you can go all out and a few minutes of appreciation a day is not long enough to get sick of anything.  I think of them as the little jewel box in a house, they almost demand high drama and decadence.

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Elle Decor

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Veranda

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Melissa Warner

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Poebe Howard

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Brook Giannetti

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Brook Giannetti

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Alina Apteker

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House Beautiful

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House Beautiful

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Judith Cohen

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Domino

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Desire to inspire

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Canadian House and home

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Kitchen and Bath ideas

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Design sponge

The advice I have for you when thinking about Powder room design is:

1) Lighting- go crazy!  An awesome chandelier looks so fun in a tiny space (if you have the ceiling height).  Use a fixture over the mirror only as an absolute last resort (it makes you look like an old hag even when you’re not, highlighting all your bags and wrinkles)  First choice for sconce placement is 66-68” from the floor at the sides of the mirror- lighting the sides of the face evenly.

2) If you are limited on space don’t go for the elongated toilet- get the regular/standard bowl or even an in wall or tank-less option.  You can also find a plethora of ultra tiny sinks (you’re not washing your hair in it – just washing your hands, tiny is more than fine)

3) Big color or big/wild prints on wallpaper do well in a small powder room.  Make the experience really fun, let your imagination run wild!

4) Don’t forget about the ceiling- does it need wall paper?  How about a bright lacquered paint?  Or even better, how about a mural on the walls and ceiling?

5) Storage- you need storage (under the sink, over the toilet???)  Try to find somewhere to stash the basics- extra toilet paper, tampons/panty liners, room spray, dental floss, breath freshener- you get the gist.

6) A fan… preferably a loud one.  You read the book ”Everybody poops” right?  Well, you know where I’m going with this.  When you have to do your business the last thing you want is for anyone to hear.  Most people are so concerned with finding the quietest fan made - What?!?  No, No, No- wrong thinking!  You want loud.  Now I’m not talking jet engine loud but loud enough to drown out other mild noises without driving you crazy or sounding like the house is falling in.

7) Last but not least- stay away from rugs and carpets right by the toilet (bad memories of the 1970’s with the shag toilet covers and matching toilet surround rugs).  I have an eight year old son - so cute but the worst aim.  We do want the room sanitary and fresh smelling.

funny thing….

When I walk into a house of someone I don’t know, I’m always looking for social cues for who lives there.  Who are they, what do they like, where have they traveled, what are their hobbies and interests, who else lives in this house?  Are they passionate, humorous, happy, fun loving and silly, or maybe serious, cerebral, professional and quiet?  Hopefully there are clues to tell me the answers to my questions – often (usually) there aren't.  A house without these cues is simply a furniture showroom, void of any soul.  My favorite thing to see as I walk though a house is a sense of humor- almost everyone has one.  Sometimes it’s just a small little detail, hardly noticeable, but when seen it gives a little chuckle to whoever is the viewer.  Some people have great courage to put it all out there and the funny things in their homes are front and center.  I myself go for a balanced approach with some fun, funny and crazy, balanced with some tame, sedate and beautiful.   Below check out some ideas (some funny, some absurd and some mildly interesting) that give instant character to a home:

funny car

funny door lock

Front door lock- you might not even notice it.

funny pillows

Jonathan Adler Pillows- he always puts a spin on tame.

funny light

Great night light

funny hand

Absurdly large hand on a kitchen island, made from a solid chunk of wood- who would take the time to carve something like this?

funny cable

funny flavorland

Clearly the pantry should be Flavorland!

funny bathroom picture

Ok, so this is a public bathroom but how funny!

funny doors

I think this is hysterical- especially in a minimalist loft.

funny mouse hole

another hardly noticeable detail.

funny stairs

Much more amusing then carpet.

funny carnival wheel

You know this is from the 1970’s, when is the last time you referred to an Album?

funny tables

These tables would keep you grinning!

Below a little man made from tin cans monitors the kitchen corner.

funny tin can man

 funny toilet sign

Potty humor is so funny no matter how old you are!

funny toilet paper

funny toilet

Does your sense of humor show itself in your house?  Send me pictures and I’ll do a follow up post. Send to designtrackmind@gmail.com .  You can also send me pictures of a friend’s house or tear sheet from a magazine you’ve been holding onto.  Can you guess which pictures above are from my house?