Episode 304

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Happy November!  I hope you’re all doing well, staying warm, and are cuddled up by the fire listening to this podcast.  I’m kicking off this episode with a celebration of my recent podcast milestone (300 episodes)! Thank you all so much for being engaged listeners, sending me your questions, and participating in this special community.

I’m also sharing some business updates, and then I’m reaching back into the mailbag.

This episode, I answer questions about…

[8:19] Brightening up a house with ‘non-trendy’ paint colors (Laura)


Can you offer an alternative to brightening up the house with lighter colors that everyone else isn’t using? I tend to not want to be trendy and have the same colors as everyone else. For example, I don’t want all white walls, gray walls, gray tile, etc. My house currently is warmer, with tan walls and warm colors. It’s hard to see in the picture, but the floor is terracotta tiles, which can be limiting.


Don’t worry about trendy color palettes. What’s in today is out tomorrow, and more importantly, what I like today is going to change tomorrow. The key is to start with that foundation of neturals, which Laura already has with tan walls. Then, we want to find an inspiration piece – whether it’s a piece of art, drapery panels, prominently placed pillows, or a patterned rug – and it needs to have three ROY G BIV colors or more. We pull those colors out and use them in different doses.

So, let’s just say a rug has a ton of colors and that is the inspiration piece. We can pull out cherry red, stoplight yellow, and apple green as accent colors for the room. With the colors selected, we then use the 60/30/10 rule to decide how much of each color will appear in the room. In the picture of my home, we can see that I have a painting as an inspiration piece and those three colors are the accent colors.

The other day, however, I was taking an online class with Benjamin Moore to learn more about their latest paint lines, I realized that I have used these really bright colors that create a lot of energy rather than the light colors like the ones Laura referred to in her question. Sometimes when I get home, I have a hard time relaxing.  When my kids have their friends over, they can be in a really frenetic state. I didn’t even think that maybe my colors are inspiring that level of activity. Maybe if I did something lighter or more muted it would allow me to relax a bit more easily, and it would calm my children down.

Again, though, colors are popular one day and not the next, but the palette of available colors doesn’t really change.  It’s quite extensive, so you can pull from that inspiration piece. The more you have to choose from, the more you can decide to swap out something like pillows. I just swapped out apple green and brought in some navy blue to bring it all down and ground the color palette. I also swapped out a vase on top of the piano.  It used to be bright red, and again I brought in that touch of navy instead. So now navy is my 20% in the room, and it still has some red and that beautiful yellow as well.

That being said, I work with so many clients and I definitely see clients drawn to certain colors that one might call trendy. I wanted to share some examples with you of colors that fit that category and that I’m ready to start phasing out a bit.

One of them is blush. Blush has been really popular for 6-8 years now, and I think it’s just getting a little played out.  It’s kind of in alignment with peach in terms of these really pale, warm colors, and I also don’t think it would look very good with terracotta tiles or tan walls. It might be too close in tone, since they are all warm colors.

The other color that I think has been played out for about 10 years, but that I’m in love with, is my favorite color: teal.  Stop using teal.  I, meanwhile, have teal in my office. I’m rebranding and getting a totally new logo (which will be revealed later this month), and it prominently features teal. I can’t let it go!  It is, however, a trendy color that I think is phasing out.

I also think emerald green is a flash in the pan. It’s been popular for about two years now, and I do think its lifespan is ending relatively soon.  It’s a beautiful jewel tone, so it’s always a classic, but I think we will be seeing less of it.

You heard me mention that I just incorporated navy in my living room, but I think that people have been using navy in a combo with the blush – and that’s getting a little bit exhausting. The navy and emerald combo is another one that I think is a little played out right now.

Speaking of combos, I’m also not into blue and yellow. I’ve relied on that combination a lot, and they create a lot of beautiful energy. The most popular color in the western hemisphere is blue, so my clients want to use it all the time.  When I tell them I want to mix it with a warmer color, they’re afraid. Orange is divisive, and purple isn’t for everyone.  People feel the most safe bringing in yellow, so I think it’s getting played out – especially teal and yellow. Do I still do it?  Yes. Did I just design a teal and yellow living room last week? Yes. Clients love that combination and it still can be fresh and relevant, but I think it’s a little played out.

I’m also getting a little tired of emerald and mustard. Those are my personal feelings, but of course colors are not trends. Colors are staples. Other things could be trendy, like types of materials or styles. Colors are timeless.

[16:40] Incorporating adjustable standing desks into home offices (Matthew)


I am a former academy student who has been accepting design clients for the past few months. I am reaching out because I have been encountering a problem that I’m not sure how to solve. Several of my clients need to incorporate adjustable standing desks in their work from home setups. I love the idea of these desks, but I hate how they look. They are typically very basic and utilitarian with no style. Being that they are motorized, they also always have cords hanging off of them with no good ways to hide them. Do you have any tips for making these desks look better? Are there any companies you know that do adjustable standing desks well from a style perspective? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Because I had a herniated disc a year ago, I thought that a sit and stand desk would be the answer to all my problems. When my new sales and admin manager started back in June, he told me about this amazing desk at IKEA that raises with a hand crank, was only $269, and was really big. I got really excited because I was like, you know what? I need to stop sitting so much. I need to exercise my core strength. I need to get out of this chair eight hours a day.  I thought it would be a great idea.

So I invested in it, and it looks just like the ones that you see everywhere. Every major office furniture company has standing desks and they all look the same: big old surface with metal legs that are really long so it’s nice and balanced. There is very little space to hide anything. There is rarely a drawer, so the surface of the desk stays messy. It probably has to be lightweight to go up and down, and there is no storage column. Typically, I love to hide cords behind the storage column and that’s not an option. They are making a lot of cool styles at Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, but they’re all pretty much the flat top with the big, broad legs.

I got mine in July or August, and I have never elevated it – not once. So sometimes I think that clients think they’re going to stand a lot and I wonder if they’re actually going to do it. Harkening back to Laura’s question, I wonder if sit and stand desks aren’t a little trendy right now. People are really into them, but maybe instead of standing while you do emails, you should just go outside and take a walk. Then you can come back to your desk and sit. I don’t know. I haven’t explored its potential for what it could do for my body or for my workflow, because it just doesn’t feel as efficient.

As far as style, like I said they all look relatively similar. Whether you invest a ton and get one at Room and Board, or whether you invest a little and go for IKEA or Wayfair, it all looks about the same. I do think it’s absolutely necessary to have some kind of cord concealment system. If they have those 3M strips where you could kind of wrangle the cords down the side of the leg, that might be an option.

For mine, I got pencil cups and storage on top of my desk. I have a tray on top for all the papers, and a magazine file for the books I’m mailing out, in order to keep the top of the desk neat and tidy as well as to give me external storage because there is no internal storage. I also put a freestanding file cabinet underneath the desk. The beauty of these desks is that you can raise them just a little, and you can get one that’s quite wide, like 30’ x 60’. I have three monitors on mine, and I just love it. It’s great for my workflow, but it can get really unruly.

I also have a freestanding file cabinet on the side that I keep papers I use frequently. That allows the top of my desk to stay mostly paper-free, even though inside the desk itself my storage and organization options are quite limited.

I still try to avoid those desks for my clients, because everything is exposed and they aren’t stylish. If a client is really set on standing, and they really think they are going to do it, then of course I want to give them what they want and to promote a healthy work life.

[22:05] Differentiating area rugs from wall-to-wall carpeting (Franzi)


I want to buy an area rug to put under the couch and under the coffee table. When I look at inspiration pictures, the rug is always in the middle of the room and it doesn’t touch the wall. Our home isn’t big, so the rug would be placed in a corner and touch the wall on two sides. Would that look weird? Is there a rule as to how much space should be between the walls and a rug? Should I do without a rug? (Our home isn’t built yet, so i can only attach a floor plan)


Definitely have an area rug. Area rugs are meant to define an area, so in a living area they define the sitting area. In a dining area, they define the dining area. In the dining area, the table and chairs would be fully on the rug and you would have room to push out those chairs without being half on half off the rug. In the living area, you’re going to have all the major pieces of seating, whether that is a couch or arm chairs, at least partially on the rug.

I do not like a rug to get too close to the walls. When a rug is closer than two inches away from the wall, it starts to look like wall-to-wall carpeting that shrunk – like a wool sweater that you put in the dryer during a chilly November afternoon. So, we definitely want to have a rug that is fully under the coffee table and partially under all the major pieces of seating. We don’t want the rug to be under the TV console or bookcases, and in an ideal world I would like the rug to be at least one to two feet away from a TV console, a bookcase, a fireplace, or a hearth. You don’t want it to look like wall-to-wall carpeting, because it is there to define the area.






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