Design Tools: Tricia Huntley's 5 Must-Haves

The local design pro shares the elements she relies on to bring warmth and glamour to any space.

By: Laura Wainman

Ever since we saw the breathtaking master sitting room at the DC Design House, we've been a little obsessed with the work of designer Tricia Huntley of Huntley & Co. We can't get enough of her unexpected mix of modern and classic elements, and her rooms teeming with layers of color and texture.

Though Huntley has been a Washingtonian for 15 years, she credits her time spent in Minneapolis and her Scandinavian heritage for her design style, which she describes as "laid-back glamour with unexpected details."

"With all my projects I try to create a look that's both striking and warm," she says. "My goal is always to create rooms that wow you at first and then invite you to stay."

While Huntley says she doesn't have a signature look in the conventional sense, she relies on five main tools time and time again to ensure that all her spaces exude the warmth she has become known for creating.

Mirrors

Photograph by Kevin Allen.

"Mirrors offer practical solutions in an elegant package. They bounce light around and make a space look bigger. I have added mirror to walls in awkward spaces, set them in paneled doors in dressing rooms, and layered them in bathrooms. It's such a simple way to solve a problem and make an impact."

Wallpaper

Photograph by Kevin Allen.

"I love wallpaper, and use it in every project. A subtle grasscloth will add texture and nuance as well as buffer sound, while a large-scale pattern in a bold color can transform an ordinary room into a showstopper."

Drawings

Courtesy of Tricia Huntley.

"My first love is drawing. I was drawing floor plans when I was still in grammar school. Now I do most of my work in Autocad, but the same concept applies. Studying a space on paper provides me with a sense of how all the elements (architecture, furniture, floor coverings, lighting) in a room will relate to each other. Will that corner be dark without additional lighting? Do I need to add a large rug to ground the furniture arrangement? Do we need a dose of chartreuse over here to balance out the green velvet sofa over there? I solve these problems in advance, so my clients don't pay for mistakes later."

Vessel Sinks in the Powder Room

Photograph by Kevin Allen.

"Some people hate this look, but I'm not sure why. I return to it again and again in powder rooms. It provides a statement-making opportunity and is actually very practical. I've installed an onyx bowl on an antique Swedish side table, a glass bowl on a floating Portoro marble slab, and, in my own powder room, a petrified wood bowl on a modern white nightstand."

Millwork

Photograph by Kevin Allen.

"Addressing the 'envelope' of an interior is always numero uno on my design agenda. So many homes are built cheaply, especially when it comes to millwork. Replacing skimpy moldings with more substantial trim will give your home substance. Be sure to select a style that is architecture-appropriate. A colonial profile does not belong in a midcentury house. And don't think crown molding is always necessary; a room with short ceilings will look better sans crown, with the walls and ceiling painted the same color."