Posts Tagged ‘understated palette’

Interior Designer’s perspective on Children’s Rooms

Posted on: March 16th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

Abundant research has proven that children who grow up in environments with stimulating shapes, colors and textures develop greater creativity and intellectual skills. Sadly, I often see children’s rooms that totally lack any type of design, places where different ideas have been thrown together in a chaotic mix. Those types of environments hardly stimulate their creativity or give them a sense of order. In my projects, I treat children as their own people, little clients with their own needs and preferences for their spaces. Each child is different and his or her room should be unique as well. A child’s room should never be improvised and a lot of thought should be placed on room layout and on each and every piece of furniture placed in their environment.

This first photograph shows a room I designed for a girl whose favorite colors were yellows, greens and raspberry red. She also favored rich patterned fabrics so I selected over 30 different small patterns and married them together in the fabrics for the window seat cushion and pillows, draperies, night table cover, rocking chair, and most importantly in her custom quilted bedspread. The diamond pattern of the bedspread is repeated on a subtle stencil pattern of yellow on cream in a wall that provides background for naïve art of her favorite rock stars. Her room has a wicker desk where she can do her homework, an open floor play area for tea parties and whatever her imagination leads her to create, while being a space that can be easily cleared by placing toys in bins that are stored in her closet.


1-Children's Rooms-High Tech Teenager's Room

This next photograph is a room I designed for a boy who loves science fiction and will be a teenager in a couple of years. For him, I designed the “space-ship” steel bed with attached swinging nightstands that incorporate lamps, a mesh headboard, and legs that resemble that of a landed space ship. The carpet I selected is a bluish grey pile that matches the paint I chose for the walls and ceiling. The strong color accents come from the red chair at his work station and the stripes on his otherwise black bedspread. This room truly matches this boy’s personality, interests and will easily transition to the more mature environment he will need in his teen years. The design of this room highlights originality and a sense of innovation; the two main ingredients he will need as the engineer he wants to become.

Designer Tips for Decorating a Condo

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

I started my career in big cities in America then traveled to Europe where I had to learn how to fight for every square inch (or every square centimeter) to give comfort, beauty, drama or serenity to each space. In my early career, I learned the standards for how space is used are quite different between urban and suburban areas. Condos (flats, apartments, etc) tend to have a smaller footprint with less square footage. On this post, I will be sharing with you some important guidelines to make your small Condo spaces more comfortable, livable, beautiful, and efficient ones. Enjoy!

9-2012 ASID 1st Place-Design Under 3,500 sqFt-Contemporary Condo Design- Family Room General View

Built-ins will be your best friends in a condo. They are an exceptional means of increasing storage and shelving that can be decorative and functional at the same time. Keep it simple; appliqués and overly detailed elements can make built-ins look too heavy.  Ideally, built-ins should be addressed by the buyer, rather than looking to the builder to include them during construction. Designing your own built-ins to fit your needs can assure functionality and beauty.

Some examples: linen cabinets that fit behind a door and home office built-ins that house the TV, computer, printers, book shelves and decorative accessories.


4-2012 ASID 1st Place-Design Under 3,500 sqFt-Contemporary Condo Design-Dining Room

Paint colors should be in a unified palette. When you use a single color for walls in the living room and dining room. This will visually expand the spatial perception of the rooms. This doesn’t mean you cannot have an accent wall; sometimes it’s perfect to define a space. Because rooms will be smaller, the paint for the doors, trim, built-ins and closet doors in the same color as the walls. That way, your eyes will be drawn to furnishings and fabrics instead of the cutouts and openings in the space. Another quick trick is to keep the color contrast between walls and ceilings to a minimum; that will make people less aware of generally lower heights.

Bigger is not always better. Large and overly decorated chandeliers, pendants and wall sconces are not as suitable for condos. They can look overwhelming and out of scale. Choose clean-lined and more understated sources of light. This doesn’t mean you should get rid of everything from your previous home. Rescue pieces that are well proportioned to their new spaces. Heirlooms and antiques can become focal points in specific rooms. With art, the same rules apply, address scale first. You want to make sure that your furnishings will serve as an “anchor” for your artwork. It’s fine to use art as a focal point; just make sure a piece doesn’t completely overwhelm its surroundings.

22-First Place -2014 ASID Award Winning Furniture Design Cocktail Table-Living Space-General View of Entrance and Dining RoomAFTER

Trick the eyes with Mirrors! Mirrors are a useful tool in any space, particularly floor-to-ceiling mirrors. They expand your perception of the size of a room. Place them in foyers, dining rooms, bedrooms, and don’t be afraid to back furniture against them. You’ll be surprised how dramatic a console or a chair can become. Try anchoring a framed painting against a mirror. It will look like the art is floating!

When in comes to condo window coverings, less is more. Stay away from overly detailed rods and finials and heavy swags. Few condos have the scale to accommodate such treatments. Keep fabrics un-patterned and stay close to your wall color. If you must use a pattern, go ahead and make a statement but keep everything else in the room close to monochromatic.

Using any number of these tips in a smaller space will make your home feel spacious and cozy so try them out!

Inventive Solutions to Challenging Spaces

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

No Space.

This is a frequent, sometimes inevitable, occurrence in secondary bedrooms. The headboard wall is flanked by a door to a closet on the other side there’s a door to a bathroom. After you place the bed you realize that there is no room for a standard nightstand, and forget about a matching set!

The solution is small tiered tables. Unfortunately you don’t find many of these tables in the market; I had to custom design these for our clients Guest Bedroom. But when you do find a table that suits your size and style needs, here’s how they can function in place of traditional bulky nightstands.

On the top tier you should make sure that the lamps you select are in scale with the tables and provide enough light for reading. On the other tiers you can use boxes or baskets for things you don’t want exposed or need to keep organized (such as prescriptions, stationery, pens, etc.) or you can use them to pile the latest novels you are reading. Adding some life to an unused bedroom is always a good idea, use one of the tiers to display floral arrangements or small lively accessories.

By giving your spare bedrooms a bit more attention to function, your guests will feel more at home and perhaps enjoy a few more visits!

Designer Solutions for Small-Medium Size Rooms

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

When I am hired to decorate the interiors of older homes, one thing I am almost always faced with is smaller size rooms. Here are some simple guidelines:

1.) Select a light monochromatic palette. Less saturated colors reflect more light and give a greater sense of spaciousness. By limiting the amount of different colors in a room, the space will feel less busy, more open and airy. Using a monochromatic palette doesn’t mean a room has to be dull or boring. Select fabrics with different patterns and textures in the same tone. In this Living Room I selected a dozen different fabrics.

2.) Try to place furnishings close to the perimeter walls. By using the perimeter space, the room will gain visual openness in the center of the room and actually create a physical sense of space. Most larger rooms have a pathway, or traveling space around the outside of seating areas, but in smaller rooms this space can be moved to the inside of the groupings and make the space look much larger.

3.) Limit yourself to one large piece of furniture. For example, use one sofa or one large armoire and complement that piece with smaller furnishings this will give the room variations in scale without making it feel heavy or overcrowded.

4.) Don’t be afraid to use an eclectic mix of furnishings. Monochromatic palettes tend to unify them and harmonize the look just by color!

5.) Go vertical. Another optical trick is to make ceilings look higher by using vertical stripes on your wall-coverings. These subtle lines will draw the eye upward creating height. By painting the ceilings in a glossy finish you can reflect more light and take the weight of the ceiling out of the room.

Remember: “Small is Beautiful.” Ernesto Garcia, ASID


Designer Tips on Stairway Design

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

A stairway in a foyer can make or break the space. It is usually the first impression a house gives to its visitors. A good stairway is like that indispensable broche on a dress or a statement tie to a suite. A stairway’s railing is one of its most important components.

1.Contemporary Mountain Style-Entry Stair

Depending on the style of a home, railings can be richly ornate or simple and understated. If your railing is the focal point, the treatment used on treads and risers should complement and not compete with the railing. These railings are an airy variation of leaves and foliage and draw much more attention than the simple white floating steps. Other spaces may call for stone, wood, tile, concrete or any combination of these materials to accompany different railings styles.

8.Eclectic Style-Stair Carpet Detail

This photograph shows an eclectic residence where the steps are the center of attention. I kept the railings very simple and unfussy because I wanted to create a dynamic effect on the runner by using different geometric patterns on treads and risers. That way you perceive one pattern at eye level when all you see is risers and another pattern when you are stepping on its treads. I wanted to create an element of surprise in the way the stairway is experienced.

2-2011 ASID Excellence Award Winning-Scottsdale Elegance-Entry-View of Custom Stairs

It is important to be cautious of how much detail you use on railings and how much detail you use on the steps, because it is rarely necessary to make a strong statement with both. In this grand entryway, you’ll see there are patterns on both the railings and the steps. However since they are monochromatic, using different shades of brown, against a blank background, these patterns coexist harmoniously creating an elegant pathway that ascends through the home.

No matter the size of the steps in your home, treat them like their own space in the house. Add a focal point, add some interest, and make taking the stairs more enjoyable!

Remember: Always elegant, never boring!

Designer Definition of “Southwest Eclectic”

Posted on: March 14th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

What is Eclectic?

To my mind, an eclectic interior is one that derives its generating ideas, style and taste from a diverse range of sources. Half of the clients who hire me want me to design this type of interior for their homes. As for the other half, we tend to start with a definite stylistic direction but somewhere along the way we transition to very eclectic spaces anyway.

Personally, I have studied too many styles, visited too many cities, walked too many museums, and seen too many movies not to be eclectic. How could we possibly be any different in such a globalized world? I have this bank of images and experiences in my mind, a well from which I am constantly tapping for inspiration because there is so much that is so beautiful about every style.

So… What is the key to a well-designed eclectic room? My short answer is a harmonious dialogue between all the parts. It seems simple at first but in fact, it requires extensive editing and evaluation. Comparatively speaking, staying within the boundaries of a specific style is much easier.


Consider this dining room I designed.

The columns came from a late 18th-century English estate, their rich texture surface frames the room and gives it importance.

The rosewood dining table is a French Deco reproduction, its clean lines, and rich graining give it the anchoring weight required in the center of the room.

The stylized Regency chairs in a dark mahogany display their graceful frame against the bone colored walls giving the room movement and interest.

This dining set sits on a wool and silk rug that I designed using the undulating lines that characterized Art Nouveau.

The contemporary chrome chandelier with Murano glass pendants was my boldest move in this room (just think how overwhelming a wrought iron chandelier would look in its place) it is its lightness that allows all the other pieces to reveal themselves.

As I mentioned before, a lot of thought goes behind every detail in order to achieve the perfect mix of styles. Each piece should have similar lines and sense of character to them to be able to work cohesively together. After working with every style, many times over, I can definitively say eclectic interiors are by far the most complex and challenging ones.

Designer Guidelines on Functional Window Seats

Posted on: March 14th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

Who doesn’t dream of taking their shoes off, wrapping themselves in a cozy throw, leaning against a bunch of pillows and reading a good book on a window seat? It is a classical image, and one that I find young and old still enjoy.

The Window Seat is a very useful design feature that can add great beauty and character to any room. On the practical side, a hinged top can turn them into additional storage (for linens, blankets, pillows, etc.) and in many rooms, they provide additional seating that could not otherwise be achieved. Often times I find that they are the only option for breakfast nooks in my remodeling work.

Another one of their virtues is that they can work as an “anchoring” element for the otherwise uninteresting window, giving it an additional function and providing the visual base it might have lacked before. And as I always say, “they come in all colors,” and I’m not just referring to the actual hues, but also to the infinite design possibilities I find when I use them in my work.

They can be a subtle and understated corner, where lightly patterned shades come down to a crisp white windowsill; next, the seat cushion and pillows present a delicate palette with peaceful patterns.

29-2011 ASID Excellence Award Winning-Scottsdale Elegance-Window Seat

In contrast, this next image shows their traditional English and French versions which display an abundance of patterns, textures, and rich tailoring details.

One more tip: These lovely seats can also function as an additional bedroom! It only takes a little length and depth to turn them into a daybeds and voila: you have another bed in any room!


Ernesto Garcia, ASID Sheds New Light on Floral Patterns

Posted on: March 13th, 2011 by Ernesto Garcia

Sometimes floral patterns have no place in an interior, it all depends on the style of a room or a client’s preference. However, a well-selected floral motif can bring great interest and dynamism to a space. Whether it is a contemporary or a traditional interior, the use of floral patterns can be crucial to its successful completion.

Remember: “Everything in moderation.”

12-2011 ASID Excellence Award Winning-Scottsdale Elegance-Family Room

In this picture, the feel of the room is very classic and serene. The palette is very understated, stone and mauve tones exist with pale celery, off-white and dark brown accents. Solids or tone-on-tone patterns have been used in the furnishings that carry the most weight: sofa and chairs. The sofa pillows display more textures or geometric patterns but it is the drapery at the edge of the room that introduces the lively note with its large-scale and delicate floral pattern. In this case, I chose to use the floral pattern on the draperies because another solid would have made this room dull and uninteresting.

These draperies keep this room from fading into solid walls and gives the physical boundary of the windows more excitement. In other words it’s all a matter of “geography,” where to place the stroke of pattern that will give life to a room, particularly if view is not that interesting and needs a bit more emphasis.

Designer Tip: If you do want to use more than one floral pattern in the room, my recommendation is that you select fabrics with large, medium, and small scale patterns to avoid competition between the fabrics.