Ask Décor Diva: Does Blue Go With My Brown Leather Sofas?

Christina recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice…

Christina asks:

I’m trying to jazz up my sitting room. I have two dark brown leather sofas which I love, and two big Morris chairs with loose cushions back and bottom. These need re-covering and I want to them to be the focus to pull everything together – so new upholstery on the chairs = new scatters for the couches, new rug. I can’t bear beige and shades of cream and brown (dogs and cats don’t help) but I love jewel colours and would like to go deep blue. Question: does blue go, do I need to pick a patterned, textured fabric for the chairs that would feature brown somehow to link with the couches.

Many thanks – I have just discovered your site and really like your approach. Not scary at all.

Décor Diva says:

One thing I am pleased to hear is that our blog does not scare you off. Nice to know that we are regarded as approachable.

I have to start off by saying that not having an image of the actual room and style of your sofa makes this reply very general. But I guess the purpose is to give you an indication of where to drive your thoughts.

More to the point though is the fact that your query is whether or not your favoured colour choice of deep blue will work with your dark brown leather sofas? The answer to that is a definite YES it will. In fact Indigo blue and jewel blues will work very well with brown. You can even consider introducing a some warm tones like a Tangerine Tango colour to add dimension and warmth.

It is always best to work from the floor upwards in terms of décor layers. In your case, this would be your rug. If you are brave enough, I would suggest you consider something with MoroccanAztec, or Navajo patterns, which include the colours I mentioned earlier. Kilim is super trendy once again. Then keep an element of fun going, by continuing on with pattern on your Morris chair cushions. I would say that a narrow striped fabric, with chenille or velvet type texture would work well – the stripes can be drawn from the colours in the rug. What you could also consider is using the stripes as the main fabric, and mixing that in with a matching plain fabric for the border.

Then have loads of fun with your scatter cushions patterns and textures. Again draw the colours out of the rug. Mix in plain fabrics, with geo fabrics, with retro patterns, with stripes and then very tactile textures fabrics as well. Not too many scatters – they will literally be scattered around if too many. If your budget allows you, please consider using a feather mixture for these scatter inners. Vary these cushions in size and shape. Pop a rectangular scatter on each of the Morris chairs as well.

Re-upholstery always presents a perfect opportunity of going about introducing your personal style in colours, patterns and texture. My advice to you would be to take your time in going about doing your research and sourcing – create a mood board using fabric samples, images of pattern, rugs, whatever you can find that represents the colours and patterns you want to introduce. Once you have that settled, go out and shop.  Best of luck and enjoy the process!

Love, Rose  x x x

Design Titbit:

Online image websites like Pinterest is an invaluable tool when creating mood boards or collecting interior inspiration. Marica & I use Pinterest when working on a specific design project – gathering concept images & fabric samples and general style aspirations unto one board. I you find an image on the web that you like or would work for your décor project be sure to “pin” it – soon you will have a whole board with gorgeous inspirations. Below are some images from Pinterest we have pinned that can work for Christina in some way or another (in a “that chair” with “this rug” in “that colour” kind of way)…

Click on the images below to view it in Pinterest and to see the relevant image sources:

Ask Décor Diva: Renovating Bedroom Cupboards?

Décor Diva dishes some advice…

Madeleine asks:

Hello Décor Diva, I have bedroom cupboards with a horrible coating of fake wood over them. How can I renovate them, to make them modern looking?”

Décor Diva says:

The ‘fake wood‘ as you put it, may well be what we would term a ‘wood veneer‘ finish. Or even some sort of Formica / Melamine finish – which has more of that appearance of being fake.

If it is a veneer finish (which is actually very thin layers of real wood laminated onto a chipboard) then it would be possible to actually spray paint over that veneer finish. You will however still be able to see the grain of the wood. Spray-painting is best done by someone who does that for a living and has the right equipment.

If it is the Formica finish, then you will not really be able to spray-paint (“duco” being the other term for it) over that finish. There are ways of going about it, but it is a very tedious and expensive process.

The other option open to you would be to simply replace the cupboard doors with new doors, more in keeping with your choice. If your cupboard’s basic framework / carcass is still good, then it might be a viable option to consider. You may want to get a quote for the spray painted finish, as well as replacing the doors. The chances are that they may be pretty close, in which case new doors make better sense. More often than not, the costs will help you make the decision.

Hope that helps you along the way with your décor dilemma.

Love, Rose  x x x

Ask Décor Diva: Dark vs Light Wood?

Shaidah recently contacted The Design Tabloid to ask our resident Décor Diva some advice…

Shaidah asks:

“I am building and want to combine a kitchen with the lounge. The whole room is 2.5m x 3m. My plan is to have 1 wall fitted with the kitchen cabinets, stove and fridge and the other wall will play host to a wall mounted plasma and floating shelves. I want dark wood cabinets but I am afraid the whole place will look cramped and dark. Please help!”

Décor Diva says:

In terms of your plans for your lounge and kitchen – the area being small really needs to be kept of light as possible in order to create and maintain that feeling of space. I would venture to say that having all the cabinets in dark wood would be defeating that objective. I would recommend that you either consider a light wood finish or white or cream cabinets with the same colour on the drawers and door fronts.

White would be your better option, but if you are keen on a wooden finish, and then ask your kitchen supplier to show you a few samples along the lighter wood lines.

If you should go the white or cream route, a splash of colour can be added into your kitchen by having one or more of the drawer fronts in either a colour or wood finish. Alternatively there could be one or two doors in a contrasting finish or colour. There is no reason why you cannot mix in the colours and textures. In fact that is the trend in kitchens today and it works well.

All the best with your plans.

Love, Rose  x x x

Design Titbit:

Small dual function spaces like Shaidah’s might sound improbable but is actually quite common especially in Scandinavian or East Asian countries where properties are either very expensive or very limited because of overpopulation. It is essential to keep the space light, minimal and free of clutter. Invest in multi-functional furniture and clever storage solutions.

Image – xJavierx via Flickr: here

Q & A with the Décor Diva

To kick off our brand new Décor Diva page we thought to post a little Q & A with Rose. In future, our Ask Décor Diva section is where you can send in your design & décor problems and questions for our Décor Diva (aka Rose) to solve. You can submit your questions here – we would love to help!

Here is the Q & A with Rose recently featured in City Magazine (Rose is City Mag’s Décor Editor)…

Inside the toolbox of Rose McClement, The Design Tabloid’s own Décor Diva:

Q:  What’s the quickest way to ‘zhoozh’ up a room?

A:  There are actually 2 inexpensive ways – paint and accessories.  Look out for quality bargains with accessories.

Q:  Tell us about your worst décor disaster, and how you fixed it…

A:  I’ll tell you about a disastrous situation I encountered.  A consultation at the house of a very nice English lady left me totally gob-smacked by what I encountered.  First – the garden was littered with cats – cats everywhere – so many of them.  Then, in the dining room I could not see the floor boards – it was literally covered in books, magazines, clothes, stuff, stuff and more stuff – about 5cm deep. The furniture and the dog in the lounge was out of a scene from Dickens’s “Great Expectations”- grey, old, tattered and the dog ate ash out of the fireplace.  I had to stop myself from hotfooting it out of there, never to be seen again.  But I sat through our session and told her I would be in contact.  After much deliberation, I called her to advise my recommendation – that she needed to consider first addressing that which led to her ‘Clean House’ scenario.  I offered to assist her in collecting all the goods scattered on the floor, packing them into boxes and then moving on from there. She was very gracious and mentioned that she had elicited the help of a dear friend to assist her tackle that task first.  That was the end of that – I did not hear from her again.  But I feel sure she was sincere in her desire to move on. 

Q:  What’s the most expensive piece of furniture you’ve ever bought – for a client, and for yourself?

A:  For client: 1.60m diameter Pierre Cronje limed Ash dining room table valued at R47K.  For myself – I generally up-cycle my furniture and the valuable items I have inherited. 

Q:  As a general rule, are expensive items always of better quality?

A:  Undoubtedly – coming out of the tight economy, people are turning their Rands over a few times before spending it and hence looking for quality, not minding the spend, knowing it will last.

Q:  What’s your absolute favourite part of your work?

A:  Putting a scheme together, sourcing and researching the elements.

Q:  What makes you weak at the knees? (Beautiful fabrics, lighting, furniture?)

A:  Unquestionably, textures and colours – sometimes just looking at an image displaying good colour does it for me.

Q:  What’s the first thing you do when you begin a project? 

A:  After the brief, we jump straight into research and development, that leads onto floor layouts etc.

Q:  And the last, as you’re about to sign off? 

A:  Snagging is the last task for a project, just before slicing the cork off the champagne bottle (or the cheap bottle of wine, depending on the margins achieved).

Q:  How hard is it saying goodbye to your rooms once you’re done with them? Are they like children to you, or can you make a clean break?  

A:  When we have worked on a project from scratch, getting fully involved   is like nurturing a child to that place of release.  There are some projects that I stay attached to and others not, but it would be best to detach. 

Q:  What do you think of the makeover décor shows on TV which have become so popular? 

A:  You know some are cool and others just plain predictable.  My favourite –‘Dress my Nest’ presented by Thom Filicia (not featured lately though).  I feel that there should be far more locally produced programmes. We have not even begun to mine the depth of SA’s talented people and products.

Q:  Tell us about the most challenging project you’ve ever undertaken…

A:  The Hotel projects in Ireland, as we had to fly over every month for site visits.  Plus we took on the challenge of working long distance, including the manufacture of big ticket items to be installed in Ireland. 

Q:  The highlight of your career?    

A:  The formation of Razor Interior Design – the company I formed with my friend when we received our hotels commission.  It was an absolute dream comes true for me.

Q:  Weirdest request from a client ever? (You don’t have to name names.)  

A:  It was for the same English lady, whose boyfriend muttered as we walked into her house “are they joining the ranks of designers whose bones are scattered in the garden”.  I had to try and measure her windows for curtains, with the contents of her cupboards piled about 5cm deep on the whole floor area. It was so scary.

Q:  And your most shameful décor secret? (Eg. You still have curtains from the 1980s in your lounge.)

A:  If I tell you it won’t be a secret anymore will it? Suffice to say – the adage is: “History repeats itself” and it does in our trade. Still being here to see the return of so many trends – OMG – the secret is out: I’ve have been in the decorating trade for ages. 

Q:  What makes you good at your job?  

A:  A wealth of experience and knowledge accumulated over the years, keen eye, network of suppliers and the ability to communicate with clients and all parties.  Yada, Yada, Yada…..

Q:  Who were/are your design mentors?

A:  A great deal of my career has involved being self-taught.  Because I am a local-is-lekker person, I would say that Mr Thomas Milton and Stephanie Kux (my first bosses) were my foundational mentors.  Mr Milton transferred to me the appreciation of antique furniture. I also hold Lynn & Sibley McAdam of Block & Chisel fame, in high esteem. Lynn started Biggie Best many years ago, sold it and later teamed up with her husband (talented in woodwork) to form Block & Chisel

Q:  If you weren’t an interior designer, what would you be doing?

A:  Career wise – anything to do with communications.  That is my other passion. Someone once told me I sound like Lisa Chair, previously of Cape Talk.  They should never have said that.  It sparked my fantasy of being a talk show host.  Family wise – I would just love to be a full time Granny, because my grandchildren are simply the best.

Q:  And what’s your ‘golden nugget’ of décor advice? 

A:  Discover your authentic décor style.  Do this by collecting pictures of the interiors that appeal to you. Thereafter, survey the images again and you will find your authentic décor style emerging.  Stick with it for as long as it is around.  Remember that as you grow & evolve as a person, so will your style.  Just remain authentic. 

Q:  What’s the most important bit of advice you have ever been given? 

A:  Love what you do, and do what you love – live the inspired life.