An Inside Job: Pulling Off Perfect Design

How many mirrors are too many? What’s the correct size for an area rug? Can I wallpaper my ceiling? The pros weigh in on everything you need to create gorgeous spaces



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When it comes to decorating our homes, there’s a dizzying array of choices. Whether we’re mid-century modern fans or devotees of traditional design, we all want our homes to be warm, comfortable, inviting, beautiful. But how do you find furniture you’ll love? Create good flow? Get the details just right? Even in a place like Greenwich, where many people have style in spades and lovely historic homes as canvases, the process is—let’s admit it—a bit daunting. We all suffer from paint-chip paralysis and couch-commitment phobia from time to time. Yes, we get tripped up by room layouts and find ourselves puzzling over lighting fixtures. Don’t lose sleep over that chandelier…there’s help! Living in a town that’s synonymous with good taste, we’re also surrounded by design pros. (Hint: The best time to hire one is before you’ve splurged on 1stdibs and had the goods delivered, only to realize that the room just isn’t working or worse, the sofa doesn’t fit and you swear you measured.) To help remedy common decorating dilemmas, we talked to some of our area’s top designers and asked them to share tricks of the trade and shed light on basic design rules. It’s time to demystify decorating.

1. I love the idea of color, but I gravitate toward neutrals because they’re safe. How can I pick new hues?

“Color is a main concern of most clients and they often feel like they should paint every room a light color or white,” says Dinyar Wadia of Wadia Associates. “Actually, darker color in a room can make it seem large. It’s good to have a family of shades.” Wadia, whose firm handles architecture and interior design, and also collaborates with other top designers, has a staff with color expertise and often brings in the gold-standard color pro Donald Kaufman for on-site consultations.

How do you begin selecting colors? Designer Carey Karlan of Last Detail Interior Design suggests choosing shades that also look good on you. What are your most flattering colors? Which colors are you drawn to? A color that plays a supporting role in one room, say a chair upholstered in plum, can become a more dominant hue in the next, says Carey. This way, there’s a thread tying the rooms together. To unify spaces, try similar colors in different textures, such as painted walls in one room and grass cloth in the next.

If you prefer neutral walls, you can layer in tones of color with accent pieces. “Throw pillows, accessories, and books bring in color while giving the room longevity,” says Richard Cerrone, a designer at Lillian August Greenwich.

Designer Amy Aidinis Hirsch steers clients away from a matchy-matchy look. “You can mix different shades of blue, for instance, to make the story more interesting,” says Amy, who just finished a client’s Boca Raton house in crisp white and a sea of turquoise. She adds that some people indulge in more vibrant color in their second homes. “Your choices can be a little bolder or ‘out there’ because you don’t spend all your time there.”

2. Any rules for sizing up a carpet or area rug?

One standard size certainly doesn’t fit all: That eight-by-ten won’t work as well in a square-shaped room or one that has bay windows or other out-of-the-box architectural features. That’s why people can end up with random results or a bath-mat effect when they order stock sizes from a catalog or store. “Everybody has rugs that are too small,” says Amy. “I like when a carpet covers a majority of space. My rule of thumb is a consistent six-inch or twelve-inch wood margin all around.” The exception to this is when a rug is placed near a fireplace, where you can go even closer to the hearth, within an inch or two, she says. If you love a smaller area rug but find it’s looking out of proportion with the room, try layering it, she suggests, by putting a sisal underneath it. 

3. Where should I hang mirrors? Can I have more than one in a room?

With decorative mirrors, scale is key to where you place them. Multiples within a room are definitely OK, says designer Cindy Rinfret of Rinfret Ltd. She likes to bring in different shapes, such as a rectangular mirror in one spot and a starburst or a bull’s-eye in another, and she employs mirrors in creative ways. “Put antiqued mirrors in cabinets and French doors, and it gives you privacy and has that open, airy feeling,” she says. This works especially well in a spot like a sunroom-turned-playroom where you don’t want to see all the kids’ toys, but you still want to maintain that open feeling. Just mirror the panels of the French doors, and you’ll have plenty of light but will conceal the clutter.  

“People need more mirrors in their lives; they’re a tool of illusion,” says Kenleigh Larock of Larock Studios and owner of The Drawing Room. “They make a room feel four times larger.” She suggests assessing where the natural light is coming in and placing the mirror to reflect it. “A mirror across from a window creates another window,” she notes. When there’s a smaller room that opens into a larger space, hang the mirror so that it reflects the larger space.

 

Greenwich Agenda

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    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...

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    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

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     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

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     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

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  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

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  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

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     @ Tudor Investment Campus

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  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

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    2014.09.22
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