At La Maison Antiques, we get a lot of questions on interior designing. Where does a person even start home decorating? Can I use my old furniture? Are there any easy design tips for people just starting to decorate? How do I avoid items that will eventually look dated? It’s always difficult to start a project as adventurous as redecorating your home. How are you supposed to learn the right way to do it?
We know what we would do: Ask a professional designer.
Thankfully, we have interior designing friends! Steve Nabers of Nabers Interiors is here to help aspiring decorators avoid some rookie mistakes! On top of owning his own design studio and retail store, Steve also features his merchandise inside La Maison. And he’s here to help you start your home decorating project.
Where do you start in decorating a room?
Very few clients have the luxury of starting a decorating project with a clean slate. Most people have favorite pieces of artwork, furniture or keepsakes they wish to incorporate and sometimes showcase. These items can provide the starting point, in some cases. I always try to analyze the client’s existing environment and their personal tastes and lifestyles before making color, finish and furnishings selections. Factors like volume, not just perimeter, of the space need to be considered for scaling the furnishings to be placed there.
Is there natural light? What are the artificial light sources? Will the room be used often or rarely? Do the clients have young children? Do they have pets? All of this should be taken into consideration when transforming a space.
How do you choose the colors or the theme?
Every project is different and many factors go into the selection process. I discuss favorite colors and styles with the clients and show them various scenarios to get feedback. If a client wants to update without starting over, sometimes simply bringing in a new color with a fresh coat of paint or in accent fabrics and accessories will a give a space new life.
What benefits does an interior designer bring to the process?
I think the best reason for choosing to work with a design professional is to avoid costly mistakes. An interior designer brings experience in working with color and finishes, has sources for furnishings and accessories, and has relationships with trusted vendors and craftspeople for referrals. Besides saving the client many hours of indecision and legwork, a designer’s expertise in placement and creation of balance with furnishing arrangements can be stress-reducing as well.
What is the most common mistake you see people make in decorating a room?
I’d have to say scale and color mistakes might be what I see most often. A sofa ordered online might look great on the computer screen but when it gets into your room it’s gigantic and makes your other pieces look out of proportion. I once worked with a couple who had ordered a cocktail table from a well-known retailer. The table literally took up most of the space in the not-so-large living room and made it impossible to fit in enough seating.
(They returned it.)
Or the opposite can be a problem. The photo of a chair looks great but in reality it’s tiny and does not make the statement you wanted it to make. I run into wall color choice issues, also. For example, neutral beige paint color can look pink and grays can look purple in certain light. Likewise, fabrics most times don’t photograph true to color and are difficult to compare in catalogs or online. There is no substitute for looking at the actual fabric or, at least, a fabric sample.
What is the best way to incorporate antiques and vintage items into a room with contemporary pieces?
As Susan Sully says in her book, Past Present, Living With Heirlooms and Antiques, “There is nothing new about the idea of antique meets modern.” She advocates not treating heirlooms as precious relics but rather integrating them creatively into our daily lives. No matter what style or period you are working with in a client’s home, incorporating a special family piece or antique can add a little history, mystery and character.
I might place grandmother’s china platter on a stand in a contemporary bookcase or place a treasured silver bowl on a glass cocktail table to hold a plant. A well distressed antique English chest in a stripped down, minimalist setting can make a strong contemporary statement. I love the idea of using antique Oriental rugs in a room with sleek furniture and bright abstract paintings on the walls.
We want to thank Steve Nabers for providing some great insight on what it takes to start home decorating! If you’re looking to renovate, look for design inspiration to start and see if any of your current pieces will match your design plan. Pay attention to the lighting a room gets and try to do what makes sense. And when in doubt, you can contact us – we’ll always be glad to give our educated opinion!