Design Laboratory: Decorating with Gold
Learn how to shop like a real interior designer
Our design laboratory puts 5 interior designers head-to-head to see how they can deliver different decorating goals using the same space. We sat down with 5 interior designers: Maude Laney, Jack Ruse, Ellen Staber, Joe Cann, and Mack Bouldes to discuss how changing out just the curtains and pillows can completely transform your entire space.
Inspiration is Everywhere
Maude Laney: Thanks for inviting me here. I was inspired this time by shape more than texture, so I wanted to feature geometric patterned pillows for a more Contemporary aesthetic.
Jack Ruse: I personally was inspired by the beach--coastal colors and feelings. So I wanted to go more Boho. I hope to be invited again to weigh in on Decor decisions I make for clients.
Ellen Staber: I am glad for this opportunity that you gave me to share my design ideas. Since the challenge was to use gold throughout the decor, I knew that going with a modern style would make it feel the most fresh and young feeling, because sometimes gold can feel too traditional.
Joe Cann: It is my pleasure to be part of this great decor decision. Since this room was empty, I wanted to make it feel down to earth and warm--something that felt home-like, so I decided to go with a rustic theme.
Mack Bouldes: As a designer, I love to discuss design projects. I wanted a pattern right away and I think the most eye-catching pillow patterns are tribal. I would describe the aesthetic as eclectic.
Shop Decorator: What made you choose these drapes?
Maude Laney: I like to use a little design trick called ‘scale’. Since the pillow pattern I chose is large scale, I knew that the pillow pattern needed to be small scale and closer together. The two balance eachother out well--it’s an easy way to mix two patterns seamlessly.
We chose blackout because it's light and airy, reminding me of summer, and it goes with any tribal or boho vibe.
Jack Ruse: I chose these drapes because they look solid-but are not. Up close, they have a subtle horizontal striation pattern, which gives them an overall appearance of movement. They make the windows look taller.
Ellen Staber: I am not afraid of mixing a strong geometrical shape with something more abstract in print, like the pillows. You can make a strong statement if you feature the two patterns close to each other.
For your living room or bedroom, this is the ideal balance for a light filtering finish. These have a beautiful linen fabric and filter the light well while yet allowing plenty of light in that’s why we chose these.
Shop Decorator: What’s your biggest piece of advice for buying decor?
Maude Laney: Don’t be afraid to mix patterns--as long as you play with scale. You can mix patterns as long as you balance large with small scale.
Jack Ruse: I like to match the color of my drapery with my accent pillows as much as I can. I think it’s important to coordinate your toss pillows with your drapery to highlight the accent color in a room.
Ellen Staber: Take your time. Go on Pinterest and look at all different types of decor and see what you’re naturally drawn to. I think that it’s worthwhile to let yourself have a vision and be inspired.
Joe Cann: Start small-- if you don’t have a large budget then just changing out the pillows and drapes can actually upgrade your room to make it feel like a completely new space. I tell my clients to just focus on trying to accessorize before they decide to splurge on a large piece of furniture first--like a brand new sofa.
Mack Bouldes: I like to use 3 colors in a color scheme rather than just 2. You’re less likely to run into feeling too matchy or getting “designers block” and feeling stuck.
Shop Decorator: Why did you end up choosing Shop Decorator?
Maude Laney: Shop Decorator is all the rage amongst emerging designers. I specifically like to use it because I know the quality is super high-end at a good price. My clients don’t always want me to shop custom, but they still want the luxe material. It’s a great solution.
Jack Ruse: Shop Decorator has an easy ordering system. It’s straightforward and sometimes my clients want to order directly, so I just send them the link and they agree it is a breeze.
Ellen Staber: I only buy from brands that support ethical practice and local artists and Shop Decorator fits both of those needs for me as a designer.
Joe Cann: Shop Decorator is the only brand I know that carries blackout shades that come in such a wide range of colors and patterns. So many on the market are too simple and too heavy. They have all different weights and textures-- so they are my new go to for bedroom curtains and pillows.
Mack Bouldes: It’s often easier to reupholster a sofa or upgrade a drape, rather than scrap all of your existing furniture and redesign from a blank canvas. Start by upgrading here and there rather than doing a full re-design.
Shop Decorator: What do you think of other interior designers' choices?
Maude Laney: I think Ellen did a really good job making the space feel modern with the use of the abstract pillows near the geometric patterned drapery. It’s a bold design choice to use a strong geometric shape with a free form pattern.
Mack Bouldes: I feel that as a designer, both Ellen and I had a similar vision and so her design I understand most. I think balance is key in a scheme, so if I have a patterned pillow with a solid pillow, I will maybe add another pattern-in a drape. I like to balance pattern and solid to create harmony.
Ellen Staber: Mack’s choice of tribal pillows is unexpected. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but upon closer inspection, I think it is a very successful design scheme. I think a patterned pillow, like the tribal pillow, paired with a solid pillow behind it creates a cohesive aesthetic.
Joe Cann: I feel that Mack won the challenge because his aesthetic feels really achievable, cohesive, and liveable. There’s something successful about pairing a patterned pillow with a solid pillow in a color that unites the scheme.
Jack Ruse: I like my own decor best, if I do say so myself! I don’t really like mixing patterns all that much, but by featuring a drape that is more textural than patterned, it creates a nice balance without looking busy
The transformation is dramatic from before to after photos.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.