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Archive for July, 2013

Jul 29 2013

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The Art of Using Color in Design

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. Photo by Peter Christiansen Valli

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. Photo by Peter Christiansen Valli

Color brings life to your décor. It can lift your spirit and inspire you or calm you down; even make you look better if used correctly. So why does color intimidate most people even though we all love it? The answer is simple. Color is powerful. It is as multifaceted and moody as nature but doesn’t have to be daunting to use if you follow some basic guidelines.

You don’t want your clients chirping, “It’s too bright, too loud, too bland, too bold, too, too, too…not me.” But your never want them to retreat to a bland safety zone ( no more Navaho White please!).

Even we designers can be less than confident at times and fall back to beige. But, no one would want to live in a monochromatic world, right? Well, neither do your walls and ceilings – so don’t limit them, wow them.

A little forethought will bring much success and help allay any fears of selecting the wrong wall color … for the 33rd time! Most importantly, the rewards of personalizing a home and using color correctly are great.

Pantone 101

Color doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it is affected by everything around it. Exposure of natural light (north, south, east, west) tints color, as does indoor light. What’s happening outside — how much greenery is filtering the color or reflecting onto it from outside, depth of overhangs causing shadows, color reflecting and bouncing off itself — will either enhance or subdue your desired effect. This is why you test paint in a space before committing. I have noted below some simple but effective general and specific tips for using color successfully in your home.

Walls & Ceilings

Begin with checking the direction of your natural light. Rooms with north or east exposures will have the coolest, bluest light. Colors that do best in cool light are on the warm spectrum (yellow-orange-red-brown values) or colors having these undertones.  Warm color provides the counterbalance to cool natural light. Rooms with south and west exposures use the opposite rule. Bright and direct natural light should be counterbalanced best with cool color values (violet-blue-teal-geen).Rooms with south and west exposure can take much stronger, more intense color because it doesn’t disappear in the harsh exposure.

Secondly, don’t just paint ceilings “Ceiling White.” For a soft, soothing, enveloping feel, tint ceilings to complement the wall color. This practice works well for rooms you want to be quiet and restful.

For drama, paint ceilings in high contrast using metallic paints like gold, silver and bronze, etc., or use dark/vibrant colors with a high-gloss finish. This will make your special statement rooms stand out.

To create height/air/coolness in areas such as kitchens and porches, paint the ceilings a pale, sky blue. There is a bonus beyond beauty for painting porch ceilings skye blue! Flying insects that build hives like wasps and bees are less likely to build a hive/nest in a blue ceiling supposedly because they have trouble distinguishing it from the sky. I may be giving away Grandma’s tricks of the trade and lore here, but in my experience it’s held true, and the look is pretty and refreshing

Distinguish Architecture

Use color to highlight special details in your home’s architecture. A combination of pale colors that coordinate with your walls, and white, can be used to call attention to fabulous crown moldings the way it was done in 18th-19th-century Europe.

Say “yes” to black! Every room should have a touch of black used in a not-so-ordinary way. Think windows and fireplaces. I decided to paint the windows of my house a bronze-black to give them a European elegance and also make the windows themselves feel larger and not broken up as they would if they were white.

I also always paint out the interiors of fireplaces with a heat-proof black paint — making the openings feel bigger. This also hides the heat and soot stains and prevents them from looking dirty.

Don’t be afraid to gild-the-lily occasionally. A touch of gold or silver leaf or paint added to crown moldings, wainscoting or fireplace surround details will add brightness, sparkle and vivacity to a traditional home. Use of contrasting color combinations on wainscoting and walls or in doorways is also an effective way to add drama to a room.

Creating Visual Interest

Red is almost always right. Most rooms benefit from using red, especially in the details. Incorporate red into your art by using red frames or mats for pictures, photographs or paintings. It’s especially effective for highlighting antique prints and Asian art, as I have done with antique watercolors over my fireplace.

Black is a great accent in accessories, lamp bases or used in one striking piece of furniture because it’s an anchor. Black is like the period at the end of the sentence.

Metals and metallic finishes add sparkle and reflect light, which enliven a room and even your outdoor areas. Any space, inside or out, can benefit from the spark it brings!

 – Kristi Nelson of KMNelson Design, LLC



Jul 22 2013

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Tell your “story” to sell your services and attract clients

saving for college

If you have happy clients, you’re overlooking one of the most powerful, simple and non-sales-y tools to help you win new clients. It’s powerful because not only does it cause prospects to say “yes” to hiring you, but they’ll do it faster, too.

What is it? Client stories! So often designers tell me they don’t like selling because they think they have to brag about themselves, and that makes them uncomfortable because they don’t want to sound sales-y or conceited. The problem is, your client won’t hire you unless they know what you can do for them.

One of my favorite ways to do this is by telling client stories. People are wired to enjoy stories, so rather than bragging about yourself, you’re telling a story about someone else. It just so happens that you’re the person who helped that client.

This is why client stories are so powerful, and my favorite non-sales-y way to win a client:

  • It provides social proof that other people have hired you and loved what you did for them.
  • It allows you to demonstrate how you uniquely solved your client’s problem, which will make you stand out from other designers.
  • It encourages your prospective client to put themselves in the other client’s shoes and imagine themselves experiencing the same result.
  • And my trade secret: it allows you to turn an objection into an opportunity.

But be careful. If you do it the wrong way, it could come across as sales-y. Here’s what you should focus on to ensure that it comes across the right way, and makes your client want to hire you:

  • It needs to be a relevant client story. The client you use must be similar to your prospective client or they won’t be able to relate. Or worse, they might think, “That’s great, but how does that pertain to me?”
  • Focus on the relevant problem your client had … and how you uniquely solved it.
  • Paint a picture of the finished space – how did your client feel about it? What did it do for them? What were the benefits? Be as descriptive as possible so your prospect can visualize themselves in that picture, too.

Think about commercials you’ve seen. What do they do? They show people just like you, with a similar problem as you. You start to relate to them and maybe even feel the same problem or frustration as the character on the screen. Then they show how they uniquely solve that problem with their unique solution. And finally, they show the character on screen enjoying many wonderful benefits – benefits which you, too, want to experience.

So you imagine yourself in the commercial, knowing that if you bought that product or service, you’d get to enjoy those great benefits, too. And then…you go out and buy the product or service!

At the end of the day, your prospective client needs to know that you’ve helped other people like them before, and telling a relevant client story is the easiest and fastest way for them to know – quickly – that you’re the best designer for them. If you use client stories the way I just described, you’ll give them exactly what they need to hire you.

– Maria Bayer is the Authentic Sales Coach for Design Success University. For a link to her webinar, click here: dsu-id.us/14R8Xw8.

Jul 11 2013

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2013 Trends in Tile

Have you noticed that the top trends emerging in the tile market are tiles with depth and movement, large-format tiles and tiles that look worn and weathered?

I think these three trends will stay strong well into next year. One of the best ways to incorporate these looks without being too trendy is by incorporating large beveled subway tiles.  The new Oxford Tile from Marazzi  fulfills both the depth and large-format design trends.


I like this contemporary takeonan old classic butif you prefer something smaller, there are tiles available with deep bevels in a more manageable size such as the Flatiron Collection from Ken Mason Tile. These handmade tiles come in gorgeous colors and wonderful metallic shades.

I particularly like this diamond pattern shown in Matador Red. The 4” x 8.5” size is large enough to make an impact but small enough to work in tight spaces such as backsplashes.

Ken Mason flatiron red

– Ann Porter, CKD
Kitchen Studio of Naples, Inc.
Blog: www.KitchAnn.com

Jul 08 2013

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What Is Your Value to Your Clients?

When you go into a meeting with a prospect, how do you approach the conversation?  Do you start with questions about the scope of work and the budget? If so, you’re starting in the wrong place.

First, let me ask you a question. Do you know why your clients really hire you? It’s not for the reasons you think.

It’s not the beautiful cabinets in your showroom or the years of experience you have as a kitchen and bath designer that ultimately matter. What your prospects and clients really want is “the dream they have of what life will be like after their kitchen or bath remodel.”

So instead of starting out with questions about their scope of work, find out what your client really wants. What do they value? What matters to them? What will be different once they “own” a gourmet kitchen? Will your client be proud of their investment and want to share it with friends and family? Will the new functionality of a well-designed bath solve a problem for them?

If your client has a family member with a disability, making a bathroom accessible is more than a “nice to have” – it’s a “have to have.” So what you’re really providing is a way for your client to give their family member a better quality of life and the dignity they deserve.

Understanding your clients’ priorities and values will help you zero in on what matters to them.  And when you understand what matters to them – what they value – and give them that through your design, they’ll pay you handsomely for your services.

Many designers find it hard to describe the value they bring to their clients. It doesn’t matter what you think your value is. It is what your clients perceive your value to be. Give them what they truly value and they’ll value you!

Would you like to know what questions to ask so you can discover exactly what your client values? Be sure to join Maria Bayer, Design Success University’s Authentic Sales Coach, for a complimentary in-depth webinar, Discover the Secret Formula to STAND OUT from Other Designers and Communicate Your Value So Your Prospects Are Willing To Pay TOP DOLLAR For Your Services.

– Gail Doby is an award winning interior designer, Co-Founder and Chief Vision Officer of Design Success University your shortcut to a more profitable and passion-filled business.