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Get inspired with these unexpected color duos. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs of Annie Elliot and bedroom by Michael K. Wilkinson for Bossy Color.

Who better to take color-pairing advice from than someone who named her design company Bossy Color? Interior designer Annie Elliott recently mentioned on her blog that one of her 2014 design goals was to get a little edgy with her pairings—so we asked her to share some of her favorite unexpectedly awesome hue duos. Read on to see what she’s loving together right now, along with her paint picks, then give these color teams a try in your own home—whether you go bold by pairing paints or start small with a contrasting decor accent is up to you.

Blush + Mustard

Elliott loves the combination of blush pink with the warmth of golden yellow. “The mustard takes the sweetness out of the pink, so you can just appreciate its glow,” she says.

Try it: Combine Farrow & Ball’s Pink Ground with India Yellow.

Navy + Chartreuse

Love navy but want to update it? Chartreuse is a fresh contrast. “The edgy greenish yellow is such a great counterpoint to navy’s conservative vibe,” says Elliott.

Try it: Put Benjamin Moore’s Admiral Blue next to Chartreuse.

Blue + Black

We’re already showed you this eye-catching Elliott-designed interior from a Chevy Chase home, which pairs a vibrant cobalt blue with rich black accents. Not ready to go quite so bright? Elliot likes a darker blue with black, too.

Try it: Pair Farrow & Ball’s Drawing Room Blue with Pitch Black for this chic, über-sophisticated look.

 Light Orchid + Deep Green

Here’s how Elliott recommends working in the year’s biggest hue: “If you MUST adapt the color of the year into your decor—Pantone, what did we do to deserve the curse of Radiant Orchid?—I suggest graying it down and pairing it with a green so dark it’s almost black.”

Try it: Use Benjamin Moore’s Violet Petal with Regent Green.

Posted at 01:33 PM/ET, 02/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Bertrand will headline this weekend’s Capital Home & Garden Show. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph by Chris Bertrand.

In 2008, Jennifer Bertrand won the third season of HGTV’s Design Star. Then she seemed to drop out of the spotlight entirely. The reason for her absence? Turns out Bertrand got pregnant, and her son was born with two rare malformations and major medical issues, necessitating an eventual 20 surgeries. After taking a hiatus while dealing with her son’s health problems, she’s back to design—and she’s busier than ever. These days, she’s hard at work designing an 18,000-square-foot home for the Ronald McDonald House, writing magazine articles, traveling to home shows, and serving as a spokesperson for the International Design Guild. The past several years may have been a rollercoaster, but there’s an upside: “It’s made me a better designer, because once you face real-life things, it’s really easy to pick a paint color and encourage people to take risks,” she says.

This weekend, Bertrand headlines the Capital Home & Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center, alongside Curb Appeal host John Giddings. During her appearance, Bertrand will reveal the top design mistakes and how to conquer them. Read on to find out why this pink-haired designer’s favorite paint color is white, why she won’t be using that Radiant Orchid hue anytime soon, and why the best design strategy is to just slow it down.

You work with lots of color in your designs. How do you suggest a colorphobe ease into using bold hues?

When I get free rein I tend to get a little kooky and happy, because I want you to walk into a room and have it change how you feel. But I also appreciate those people who say, “Jen, just because you sometimes have pink hair . . .” I don’t expect them to like color how I like color, but I want them to understand how to create a color story in their home, even if it’s just white and shades of linen. The thing is, you have to focus on the un-fun stuff first before you just jump in and buy a paint can and watch one TV show and say, “I’m going to tackle it this weekend”—because what happens is that your house looks schizophrenic.

So it’s really teaching people that even though you get super-psyched and excited to paint, it’s sometimes about slowing down and having a plan before you do it. Which is so boring to say, but you’ll be glad later, because you won’t be repainting.

So what is the “un-fun stuff”? How do you create that plan?

Ultimately, it’s deciding: How do you want your space to feel? People will say something like “happy and bright” or “soothing and sophisticated.” Then start grabbing paint chips you’re drawn to, and once you start laying them next to each other you’ll start seeing how one color can overshadow another.

What are your favorite paint colors right now?

You know how they always have the color of the year? [This year] it’s orchid. And I love orchid, but that makes me not want to use orchid because it’s the color of the year. I have a secret rebellion about it. Honestly, it’s more about what makes people happy. Everything that’s cool is cyclical; it’ll come back around eventually. My house is kind of like Florida-retirement-home colors—all soothing and calm, rococo ice-cream palette.

Honestly—and this sounds really lame—but I love white paint. If most everything is white, then you can change your artwork, you can lacquer a side table, and you still have this neutral base that lets you play with color but not be extreme about it.

What is the easiest way to make a big impact in your home?

The most cost-efficient one is paint. That’s kind of how I became “the paint girl.” It’s not that I’m obsessed with paint; it just was the easiest way to spend $50, put in a little sweat, and change the whole feel.

The next thing is lighting. Lighting is one of the unsung heroes of design. It’s changing the fixtures to be the proper focal point that they should be; or, if you want a cleaner look, spending the money to put in the proper cans or dimmers to create the necessary ambience.

What are your top tips for decorating on a budget?

Slow down and create a plan. What happens is that you don’t have money, so you buy lots of little things, and you end up with lots of small things and no design impact. Instead, I teach people to save up and get the thing you really need for the space instead of a bunch of tchotchkes that make you look like a hoarder. Once you have a plan and are buying things one at a time, then you can start painting, start purchasing.

And I say this from experience—I don’t try to say, “my son has a medical thing, so . . .” but when we had to focus on real-life payment stuff, then I had to figure out, “Okay, how do I get creative?” And so then it was really being patient and focusing on one room at a time.

I’m the queen of Target decor. Target has great accessories, and Marshall’s, even.

What other budget-friendly sources do you like?

Etsy is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a great way for people to have real art and support small artists, and it takes you a step above a poster or something you’d find in a big-box store.

I even use Overstock—I’m not a snob about that. Lamps Plus online has clearance open-box items that I use. I tend to love Craigslist and 1960s estate sales more, though.

At this weekend’s show, you will be sharing the top 12 design mistakes. Can you give us a sneak preview?

One thing is scale—lighting scale is commonly a big mistake. More than likely, people have the wrong-size light; they go too small in their dining room. You want the light that looks like it’s on steroids in certain spaces. It’s like the Louboutin of the home. It makes the dramatic moment.

Another common mistake is curtain height. I don’t know why they still sell them at 84 inches—because they should never be hung at 84 inches—but that’s the standard size in stores. I don’t want anyone to go below 96 inches. So if you want to save the curtains you have, just colorblock and sew on a chunk of fabric at the bottom. Then you can use your curtains but hang them at the proper height of two inches below the ceiling, which adds instant drama. It freaks people out, but then once they start seeing pictures of rooms that have that, they realize it is right. Sometimes people just need someone to tell them, “It’s going to be okay, you’re going to be fine; step back from the ledge.”

The Capital Home & Garden Show runs Friday through Sunday at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly. The show will be open 10 to 9 on Friday and Saturday and 10 to 6 on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online for $7 or at the door for $10.

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 02/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The eye-catching designs are popping up on everything from plates to coffee tables. By Michelle Thomas

From bold graphic prints to sculptural shapes, modern geometric influences are a one-step wonder for adding a dose of playful pep to your home. A warning, though: One too many chevron-topped textiles and the look can shift from on-top-of-the-trend to dizzyingly over-the-top. We checked in with design pro Lori Graham for her take on how to nail the look. Read on for her expert tips, then click through the slideshow to see 14 great geometric finds.

1) Keep it small: Add geometric elements with toss pillows and decorative accents, which pack a small but mighty punch. Avoid using these prints on larger upholstered pieces, which can overwhelm.
2) Stick to neutrals: But if you DO want to use a geometric pattern on a larger item, go for a neutral color such as cream or brown and make it a key statement piece in the room.
3) Play nicely: If a geometric piece is in a colorful finish, be careful that it doesn’t fight with other colors or design elements in the room, especially prints and shapes.

Posted at 10:29 AM/ET, 01/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
See who made the cut for 2014. By Michelle Thomas
Local interior designer Darryl Carter and architect Allan Greenberg are included on the AD100 list for 2014. Darryl Carter interior, left; photo courtesy of Darryl Carter. Allan Greenberg design, right; photo by Durston Saylor.

It’s always great to see some familiar names pop up on a national list of bests—and this time, it’s area interior designer Darryl Carter and architect Allan Greenberg, both named to Architectural Digest’s 2014 AD100, which ranks the publication’s picks for the top talents nationwide. The magazine has been compiling the list for nearly 25 years.

This is the third consecutive year that the Alexandria-based Greenberg has been placed on the list. Carter was previously included in 2012.

Read on for some high-design eye candy from the two, then head to Architectural Digest’s site to see the complete list.

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Posted at 01:18 PM/ET, 01/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Local design pro Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey reveals her secrets for creating a festive holiday scene. By Sarah Title
Photographs by Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey.

The turkey may be the most important thing on your table come Thanksgiving Day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your decor some thought, too. We checked in with local interior designer Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors to get some tips on how to create a festive atmosphere for giving thanks. The key? Cavin-Winfrey says the surest way to a perfect tablescape is to let your existing decor dictate your direction. “If your dining room walls are pink, then there should be a pink element to your table,” she says. But she does have one hard-and-fast rule: When it comes to your table, don’t use red. “It’s disastrous—unless it’s Valentine’s Day or Christmas,” she says.

Whether you want to go big and use ’em all or keep it simple with just one, read on for more of Cavin-Winfrey’s tips for sprucing up the Turkey Day table.

1) Placemat Photo Collage
A combination of wax paper, vibrant leaves, and old photos of dinner guests can create a table runner that inspires memories from years past. Simply press the leaves and pictures between the paper, then run it vertically down the center of the table. “Create a collage with the leaves so you’ve got a really neat patchwork,” Cavin-Winfrey says.

2) I’m Thankful for . . .
Write this phrase at the top of a note card (or buy these) and place one at each table setting in a Mason jar or dish, along with a pencil. Read them out loud and see if guests can figure out who authored each one.

3) Go for Gourds
There’s no time like Thanksgiving to load your dining room with fall’s colorful produce. Stop by your local pumpkin patch or farmstand to pick up some baby pumpkins, then arrange them on the table or in a bowl as a centerpiece. Add a few flowers for balance, and make sure to keep the arrangement low so it doesn’t block conversation.

4) Rustic Lighting
“Candlelight is always really important,” Cavin-Woodfrey says. Wrapping some straw or twigs around a candelabra will introduce rustic touches into a formal dining room setting. Apartment-bound with no woods in sight? Take the easy way out with this West Elm black aluminum faux-manzanita candelabra, $99.

Posted at 11:24 AM/ET, 11/19/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The industrial-modern space of Room & Board’s head visual designer is one of five homes featured in the new design book by the bloggers behind AphroChic. By Michelle Thomas
Angela Hays Belt's Navy Yard apartment is featured in the new book Remix, by the husband-and-wife team behind design blog Aphrochic. Photographs by Patrick Cline courtesy of Random House.

Thursday night, Logan Circle’s Room & Board store hosts a book launch party to celebrate the release of design blog AphroChic’s first book, Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects, and Soul. The bloggers behind the site, policy-attorney-turned-designer Jeanine Hays and her husband, Bryan Mason, will be on hand to chat about their aesthetic and sign books, but here’s our favorite part: Turns out Hays’s sister, Angela Hays Belt, is Room & Board’s head visual designer right here in DC. Impeccable design taste must run in their genes: Belt’s Navy Yard apartment (which she shares with her husband, Leon, a videographer and graphic designer) is one of the five homes featured in the book, and it’s chock-full of inspiring design. Keep reading to see more of the Belts’ artistic-meets-midcentury-industrial loft, then swing by the 14th Street store tonight to meet both Hays and Belt in person.

AphroChic book launch party, Thursday 6 to 8:30 PM. Presentation at 6:30 PM. 1840 14th St., NW; 202-729-8300. RSVP online.

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Posted at 10:22 AM/ET, 11/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
We show you how to get the look. By Michelle Thomas
Photographs by Michael K Wilkinson.

Brilliant blue walls. A bold chevron rug. Hints of orange and red.

Vibrant hues and graphic lines make this Chevy Chase home a looker—but there’s more to the story than a striking paint choice and an eye-catching pattern. The homeowner, a New Zealand native, wanted to find an interesting way to display his collection of international art in the first-floor library. He turned to local architect Doug Pettit of Landis Construction, who, after talking with the homeowner, decided to use Dutch painter Piet Mondrian as the muse for the space.

“As we talked about possibilites, it occurred to me that we might accentuate the dimensions of this small, exposed space,” Petit says. “I pictured floor-to-ceiling shelving that frames the window as one focal point within an asymmetrical system of cubbies. The cubbies would display selected collectibles. Mondrian says, ‘To create equilibrium among such disparate elements you have to find the golden ratio.’”

In the attached dining room, local interior designer Annie Elliot of Bossy Color used bright color and graphic patterns to complement the Mondrian-influenced library. Elliot chose a chevron flatweave rug from India, black-and-white furniture, and a bold blue paint while preserving the home’s original wainscoting and white tray ceiling. The result of Pettit and Elliot’s work: Midcentury meets global, to stunning effect.

Love the look but can’t hire the pros? You can recreate this look using similar (and reasonably priced) pieces—read on for details on how to do it.

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Posted at 10:55 AM/ET, 10/25/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Refresh your decor with these tips from interior designer Zoe Feldman. By Michelle Thomas
Local interior designer Zoe Feldman recommends layers of white and ivory bedding in lush textures, such as this look from Zara Home.

Looking for a few quick tricks to give your home a little fall refresh? We asked Georgetown-based designer Zoe Feldman to share three ways to transition your decor into autumn—without a heavy-duty redo. Read on to snag her secrets. (Spoiler: texture is key!)

1) Change out your throw pillows: “This season is all about warm pastels, so replace bright pop colors and crisp pastels with ‘muddy’ brown-based pastels like blush pink, champagne, and warm lavender. Don’t like pale tones? Opt for more traditional fall colors like chocolate brown, navy, and emerald green. And don’t forget the fabric— fall is all about getting cozy, so try plush textures like velvet, cashmere, and wool.”

Try: West Elm's pillows combine soft, pale hues and lush velvet texture. Studded velvet pillow covers, $34-$39 at West Elm.

2) Scent your space with a woody or spicy candle: “We love Lafco’s extra-large candles, which burn for many hours and when finished make gorgeous colored glass jars that look great as vases or interesting storage pieces in the bath or kitchen.”

Lafco candle in Den Brown Redwood, which combines notes of coastal redwood, cedar, and huckleberry; or Diptyque’s Feu de Bois, meant to invoke a log fire. Lafco and Diptyque candles, $60 at Bluemercury.

3) Add a touch of texture to your bed: “Fall is all about layering. Start with down—feather beds, duvets and pillows. Add an interesting blanket, like an heirloom quilt, for color and a bit of whimsy, or a cashmere blanket for some decadence. I prefer white bedding, even for fall, but paired with warmer whites like winter white and ivory for a subtle contrast.”

: Restoration Hardware’s cashmere throws impart a super-soft bit of luxury. 555-Gram cashmere throws, $199 at Restoration Hardware.

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Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 10/03/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
How to design a white kitchen that’s as practical as it is elegant. By Douglas Bair
This easy-to-clean white kitchen by Anthony Wilder Design/Build incorporates subway tile and cabinets with a matte finish. Photograph courtesy of Anthony Wilder Design/Build.

From HGTV to designer showrooms, white kitchens are everywhere. And it’s no surprise people love them—they create a clean, crisp look; they fit well in traditional and contemporary homes; and they attract sunlight and can brighten a space. But white also shows dirt and grime, which can give homeowners pause, especially those with children or pets. We asked kitchen designers for tips on creating a white kitchen that’s practical and easy to keep clean.

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Posted at 11:47 AM/ET, 09/19/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
It’s your chance to check out some of the neighborhood’s most beautiful properties. By Michelle Thomas
The home of designer Supon is one of the properties included on Kalorama's tour. Photographs courtesy of Supon.

Not doing anything on Sunday afternoon? Now you are: For the 28th year, the historic Kalorama neighborhood allows guests inside some of the area’s most spectacular properties during its annual House and Embassy Tour, which is hosted by and benefits the President Woodrow Wilson House.

This year, Dupont Circle’s Beaux Arts Andrew Mellon Building, built in 1915 to house luxury apartments, joins the list of architectural sites included on the tour. Among the other participants: Peek inside the home of the Ambassador of Austria and the just-redecorated residence of the Ambassador of Portugal, plus the Slovenian Embassy, the Textile Museum, and four private homes, including that of graphic designer Supon, whose playful decor is pictured here.

28th Annual Kalorama House and Embassy Tour. Starts at Woodrow Wilson House, 2340 S St., NW. Sunday noon to 5. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door.

Posted at 02:13 PM/ET, 09/13/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()