09 Aug 2010

Interior Design Without Borders

Color, Interior Beauty, Interior Design, Interior Design Process, Online Design, Redesign, Technology, Window Treatments 23 Comments

BMW the Ultimate Driving Machine (advanced technology)

I love technology.  I didn’t always feel this way, not until I switched to BMW and Apple.  I’m definitely not a PC; Windows and I just didn’t work well together, somewhat ironic since decorating windows is a big part of what I do.  I remember hearing Melissa Galt, interior designer, business coach and speaker, say how she just didn’t click with her BMW; she disliked the I-drive, and was much happier with (I think she said it was) her Lexus.

I love the I-Drive

Me, I am a diehard BMW fan.  I learned the I-drive without ever reading the manual, we just clicked.  Melissa thought the BMW must’ve been designed more for men, but I don’t think so, since obviously I am not a man.  I was a tomboy though, so perhaps there is some truth to her comment.  But the point is that I click with my BMW.  It is very fuel efficient, safe, and incredibly fun to drive and I plan to drive mine until one of us dies.  As much as I love my BMW, I hope it’s not me first.

It’s important to click with your technology.  What fun is it to spend your hard earned money on a laptop, cell phone or digital camera if trying to use it results in hours of frustration?  In the same way, it’s important for clients and designers to click.  Personalities and styles play a big part in the design partnership, and I’m not talking about style as in Mid-Century Modern ala Irwin Feld Design.  No, I’m talking about the fit between designer and client.  There must be trust or the design process will be thwarted, and trust me, it won’t be any fun for either of you.

Irwin Feld Design

As in everything in life, it’s important to know what you like and what works best for you.  Is it possible to design your surroundings without knowing what you really like?  Sure you can, but without being clear on what you like, what are the odds you’ll end up with a room you’ll love?  It’d be smarter to buy a lottery ticket.

Knowing one’s style is an exercise in discovery many of us never figure out, at least partially because our tastes are always evolving.  This is one way I help my clients, by helping them figure out what will make them happy.  I really enjoy this aspect of decorating; one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up was a psychologist, and being a designer is a little like that.

Should I paint or wallpaper?

There’s so much more to interior design and decorating than simply picking colors, fabrics and furniture .  It’s never, ever boring.  Well, except for the paperwork.

The other day I was in the car on the way to meet with a client and I decided to listen to the lovely ladies of The Skirted RoundtableLinda Merrill, Joni Webb, and Megan Arquette.  In this particular podcast, they were interviewing interior designer turned architectural photographer Michael J. Lee.  Michael described himself as loving every aspect of his switch from interior design to photography, and among his reasons was that he loves to tweak his photos in PhotoShop.  That little remark made me laugh out loud because I can so relate.  It is techno art to take a photo that is sad and make it better. (I’m humming “Hey Jude…”)

When I first started decorating homes, I would hand draw space plans and elevations, which was time consuming.  At my first IWCE (International Window Coverings expo) in 2006, I learned about a software program that would enable me to design drapery treatments on top of a photo of my clients’ windows.  Upon learning that I could also do space plans to scale, I was sold. Now I can more quickly show my clients different space plans in addition to a pretty darn good idea of how different drapery designs can transform their room.  There are much more sophisticated software programs out there but for my purposes, helping homeowners visualize their options, this one did the trick and didn’t break the budget.

Computer rendering is faster than hand drawing

This technology has come in very handy and all my clients love it.  But it’s invaluable when doing online or long distance design.  Such is the case with my Facebook clients and friends Susan McCarthy and Bruce Barone.  They live in Massachusetts and I live in Florida, but the distance isn’t a problem because of the technology.  I used my design software to help them select a new paint color for their bedroom.

Susan & Bruce before color MBR

bored with sage green

We started with my asking lots of questions that got them soul-searching about how they wanted their room to look and feel.  Susan and Bruce were bored with the sage green and wanted to add bold color to the room, but they were awash in paint chips and weren’t sure which would add the pizzazz they desired.  Because color is not rendered accurately on computer monitors, I asked Susan to send me a pillow sham and I asked Bruce, who is a professional portrait and nature photographer, to send me photos. Having the fabric in hand allowed me to see the true colors in the sham.

Working with the pillow sham

From there I selected paint colors and had samples mailed to them.  Using my software, I created renderings on top of the photo of their bedroom, showing the walls in 3 different greens.  I also showed them how a headboard would give their bed its rightful presence.  Only a small percentage of the population have the ability to visualize, or see in their mind’s eye how something will look, so being able to see actual renderings of different possibilities was a big help to Susan and Bruce, as it is with almost all of my clients.

Here’s a rendering of the wall color they selected:

deep delicious green

That inspired them to go forward with a custom upholstered headboard and bedskirt and I showed them a few options:

light, bright for high contrast

Jade blue

jade blue and green

deeper, cozy caramel

And here’s the final result, with which they are delighted.

the new wall color and headboard

I always tell my clients that light is an integral component of color.  With the lights on (and regal Nadine posing) the walls take on a richer, warmer hue.

A new cozy bedroom

Susan, who makes fabulously scented soaps that are gentle and natural, was so happy she sent me a box of her soap.  You can’t imagine the wonderful fragrance that wafted out of that box; I bet no other UPS truck has ever smelled so good!  (soapsusan@aol.com)

soap for the soul, i love it!

Now Susan and Bruce are redecorating their dining room.  They found a beautiful dining room table and chairs and painted their dining room a daringly deep color called Get Back Jack.  I’m not sure why it’s named that, but it’s reminiscent of a complex Cabernet Sauvignon, perfect for these two oenophiles.  I’m designing a drapery treatment for them using this beautiful silk chinoiserie fabric and custom iron hardware, but that’s a post for another day.

silk chinoiserie will pop against the wall color


23 Responses to “Interior Design Without Borders”

  1. Jason says:

    I’m looking at two programs: Dream Draper and Minutes Matter. What’s your opinion? Which do you think was the easiest to learn and which has the best support?

    Thanks for the help in choosing!


    • Anne says:

      Jason, I’m sorry I didn’t see your comment before. If you haven’t yet purchased Dream Draper or Minutes Matter, I’d say go with Minutes Matter. For me the learning curve was about the same for both programs, but I almost always open MM when it’s time to do a rendering. For one thing, it’s faster which is important to me. For another, DD is written in Java and when a file gets large, it tends to crash and lose all your work! The workaround is to save the file as different names to help keep it smaller. The one thing DD has that MM doesn’t is the break-apart images. But I don’t miss it enough to go back to using DD. I believe both have free trials, so give them both a try. I’ll be curious which one you prefer! Best, Anne

  2. Debbie says:

    Dream Draper is a wonderful tool, unless you decide to ever purchase a new computer or upgrade your system (exp. from XP to Windows 7). They will not re authorize your program that you have paid for in total, unless you purchase one of their upgrades requiring yet another expensive purchase.
    Really frustrating. They block your original authorization code. BUT if you purchase their upgrade, then they will re authorize your original code to open the program that you already own.

  3. Farrah Taylor says:

    Which software did you use Anne? I am contemplating Dream Draper or Minutes Matter. Not sure which one would better integrate into my business. Great blog and good find! I will be following your work. Thanks.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Farrah, I used DreamDraper to create these renderings. I’m just learning how to use Minutes Matter though, so I can’t say which one I like best…yet. Thanks for the kind words and I look forward to hearing more about your work and which program you decide on. Anne

  4. False Nails · says:

    home interiors with light colors gives a much happier environment ,,

  5. tamara matthews-stephenson says:

    Hi Anne – love how you showcased an out of town client and the ways in which the miles didn’t matter….ah, technology! Love this post, which I found engaging and well written. Thanks for a look at your favorite ride….I do drive a cute little convertible minicooper in the summer and it is made by bmw…handles well and is very peppy. the car/interior design analogy is a hoot. best, tamara

    • Anne says:

      Hi Tamara, thank you, I really appreciate that. I’ve driven a minicooper and they are a blast to drive! xo Anne

  6. Vita Vygovska says:

    Great article Anne. What did we ever do before computers, email, internet, even facebook for that matter. regardless of all the hoopla out there, i LOVE all the technology has to offer (and i’m not a super techy person, just a super user of what works :-))

    • Anne says:

      Vita, so true, I can’t even leave my house without my iPhone. I’d never in a million years think of myself as techy but I do love how it makes everything easier. xo Anne

  7. Rissi Cherie says:

    Fascinating blog, Anne. Technology…it’s always several steps, or maybe that’s gigabytes, beyond the average user. Great when you “get it,” but less than great when you don’t. Still we must persevere…and I can’t wait to get the design software you’re discussing here and have another big learning curve in front of me!

    • Anne says:

      Thank you, Rissi. I agree, there’s always a new technology to learn and it’s painful to have to work with one that you just don’t get. When you get it, you will love it!

  8. susan mccarthy says:

    It is a pleasure working with Anne. The technology is a wonderful aid in the design and decision-making process.

  9. Marcy says:

    Wonderful post! I so agree with your philosophy. And….happy to have had a hand in breaking the pillow rule-lol

    • Anne says:

      Marcy, thanks for letting me use your photo of Irwin’s Breakfast in Tiffany’s vignette to show Mid Century Modern style. And thanks for your comment, glad we are on the same page!

  10. PillowThrowDecor says:

    I’ve always had a rule of thumb of no more than 2 pillows in a chair. In the Irwin Feld picture, there’s a chair with 4 pillows on it. I LOVE it. So much for that pillow rule!!!

    I also use Dream Draper drapery designs but I don’t have the professional talent that you as an interior designer has. My point of mention here is that there are lots of online rendering programs for the DIY. however, in the hands of amateurs these renderings are often pretty pictures with bad design. Thank goodness for professionals that know what they are doing! Cheers Christine

    • Anne says:

      You know what they say, Christine, rules are made to be broken 😉 Thanks for your observations and comments on DIY software designs! Best, Anne

  11. Sarah Youngblood says:


    I am learning how to use Minutes Matter myself. Committed to it, as I will not allow technology opportunities to pass me by. Love the case study you used in this blog entry.

    • Anne says:

      Hi Sarah, learning the software is an investment of time and brain cells, but it will be worth it! Thank you, so appreciate your comment.

  12. Tweets that mention Interior Design Without Borders -- Topsy.com says:

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  13. Jane Ann Maxwell says:

    I love your philosophy of design! We are in sync when it comes to help a client achieve a room that reflects THEM!!! I also really enjoy your lovely blog. Which design software do you use? Dream Draper or Minutes Matter?

    • Anne says:

      Thanks, Jane Ann! I’ve been using Dream Draper but to get more design options, I’ll be using Minutes Matter – once I figure out how to use it on a Mac!

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