Friday, February 19, 2010


Ah, the lure of the magazine stand. I can get into trouble there but I’ve learned to curb my buying and tend to stick to my favorite 4 or 5 ‘shelter magazines’ and I don’t buy them all every month. The only one I have a subscription to now is ‘ House Beautiful’; it has proven to be the one I keep going back to for inspiration and information. This month’s issue is all about blue. Blue is not my favorite color ( it is the favorite color of 42% of people, though) but this is a terrific issue, full of examples of mixing textures and prints, of how to use color as accent and how to make totally different statements using the same color. It also covers all decorating styles, from modern to traditional and everything in between.

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day and picked up an issue of ‘freshHome’. Its part of the Readers Digest family and I had never seen it before. What a surprise it turned out to be. Practical advice, lots of very well explained how-to’s and is really targeted to the average home owner. I think I’ll subscribe to this one too.

When I was teaching Interior Decorating I used Architectural Digest more than any other. I was told that they do not stage rooms; for the most part they photograph ‘as is’.

I like that.

When I look at a magazine for the first time, I often just flip through it quickly to get a sense of how much of it is information and how much of it is advertising. While I like to know what is in the marketplace (a function of advertising) I think that buying a magazine that is mostly ads is like wearing a T-shirt with the designers name on it. Who is paying who?

I have some Architectural Digests and House Beautifuls that are several years old but I don’t keep any others past one year. If there is something in a magazine that I really want to keep, I tear it out and keep it in my inspiration folder. We all have enough paper in our lives anyway.

I’m thrilled that my article on Magnetic Roman Blinds was published in an international trade magazine this month. I’m working on getting it onto my website

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The color primer

I was recently reminded that a lot of people don’t know how color is ‘made’. So here is your primer about color.

There are 3 basic colors. ( Bear with.. some colorists say there are more than this, but that’s an altogether different issue). For sake of expedience, we’ll also use black and white. There is red, blue and yellow. All colors are made by mixing these 3 colors together in different proportions and they are shaded by adding black or tinted by adding white.

A color wheel starts with red at the top (12:00- think of a clock) and in a clockwise direction we see yellow at 4:00 and blue at 8:00. Colors on the right side of the wheel are considered ‘warm’, those on the left ‘cool’.

If we mix red and yellow together in equal proportions we get orange, positioned at 2:00. Yellow and blue make green, at 6:00, blue and red make violet, at 10:00. You can keep mixing the side by side colors to get more variations but these are the basics. Some colors have more of one basic color than another, this gives us things like red-orange where there is more red added to the orange than yellow, creating a color that has a stronger red feel to it than yellow. Some people look really good in blue reds, (‘winters’ ) some can only wear orange reds (‘autumns’).

If you look at colors directly across from each other you see complimentary colors - red and green, blue and orange, yellow and violet. If you want to mute a color ( that means to grey it down a bit) you add the complimentary color. So, to reduce the intensity of red, add a tiny bit of green.

A home decorator really needs to understand the color wheel. Combining fabric, or paint, or carpet colors that have different undertones can produce a very disjointed color scheme. One of the best things you can do to help yourself understand the wheel is go to the dollar store and get some acrylic paint; red; yellow, blue, black and white and a little painters pallet and start playing. Make a color wheel. Pick a paint chip color and try to duplicate it. You’ll learn a lot, your decorating schemes will turn out better and you’ll have some fun.