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Design Laboratory: Decorating with Grey

Design Laboratory: Decorating with Grey

Learn how to shop like a real interior designer 

Our design laboratory puts five (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: Jamie Alexander, Joe Trunball, Paris Wexler, Doris Demarco, and Jade Oliverie to discuss how changing out just the curtains and pillows can completely transform your entire space.

Inspiration is Everywhere

Shop Decorator: Welcome Designers. What inspired your overall design scheme? And how would you classify it?

Jamie Alexander: I appreciate the offer to discuss my design concepts. As a designer, I let my world travels inspire my designs. I just came back from Kenya, so I would say the tribal modern aesthetic best describes this look. 

Joe Trunball: Thanks for the invite. I’m from Texas, so in all of my designs I try to incorporate some of that flavor. I would say that my aesthetic boils down to ‘modern southwestern’.

Paris Wexler: As a designer, I love interacting about design projects. Clean lines define my style. I tell all my clients that when they work with me they can expect a minimalist aesthetic. 

Doris Demarco: I am driven to make a house feel like a home. The more to look at, the more cozy and lived-in a room can feel. I decided to mix patterns and describe my design as Bohemian. I'm hoping to be asked back to contribute to design selections for clients.

Jade Oliverie: For this design challenge, I was mostly inspired by the cozy Scandinavian ski chalets. I would describe the overall look as traditional. It's an honor to be a part of this fascinating decor discussion.

Shop Decorator: what made you choose these drapes?

Jamie Alexander: I wanted to make the pillows the show stopper, so I went with a simple, textural drape. Up close though, these drapes are anything but ordinary. They have a cool textural and subtle horizontal movement to them.

If you want to brighten your living room, I definitely recommend these unlined curtains. It doesn't look so dark and these sure met that expectation. I'm a stickler for natural lighting and I love the way this changes the space.

Joe Trunball: I chose these drapes because I wanted a dark and dramatic statement around the window where the light comes pouring through. 

We ultimately pick blackout curtains since they effectively insulate the windows and prevent you from becoming cold at night. Even in the middle of the day, with both windows shut, the room is pitch black, which is ideal for napping.

Paris Wexler: I chose the pillows first and let them inform the drapery design. The drapes feature two of the colors shown in the pillows, which supports the overall design scheme. 

We chose these unlined drapes because of its sheerness, yet not to the point of being transparent. Nicely assembled. Straighten up. Grommets are obvious, but they're also quite stylish.

Doris Demarco: I chose a drape that has a long pattern from floor to ceiling to make the windows look taller. The pattern is also large scale which balances the small pattern on the pillows. 

My plan for the summer is to save electricity and keep my house cooler so we ended up with these very nice blackout curtains. They block the sun entirely and keep the room dark, a perfect choice indeed.

Jade Oliverie: I like my drapes to be heavy and thick in feeling so I went with a thick weave similar to a boucle. It also supports my overall design theme-- hinting at a ski chalet. 

We go for the unlined curtains because they have a lovely satin feel to them. Very nice light filtering and a perfect level of sheerness. This is a fantastic find.


Shop Decorator: What’s your biggest piece of advice for buying decor?

Jamie Alexander: Don’t think that just because you are spending a lot of money that you are getting the best quality. Oftentimes, vendors mark up material just so that you think it’s super high quality when it isn’t. Shop Decorator is honest with their pricing unlike most vendors...

Joe Trunball: Go on Pinterest! Do your homework. Look at as many rooms as you can so that you can understand what you like and what you don’t.

Paris Wexler: Less is more. Start with a few things and grow your room transformation from there. When redesigning, you don’t have to completely overhaul your room all at once. 

Doris Demarco: When designing with grey, vary the shades so that it doesn’t become too dull. I like working with the lightest shades of grey next to the darkest ones. Drama is the key to keeping it lively. 

Jade Oliverie: Dark drapes with light pillows in the same room are a simple way to make a statement. You can do vice versa and it also works. Dark and light together are an easy way to make a big transformation.


Shop Decorator: Why did you end up choosing Shop Decorator?

Jamie Alexander: I chose Shop Decorator because they are constantly restocking and coming out with new drapery styles. I’ve been around the block and am in constant need of fresh selections...

Joe Trunball: Shop Decorator is the best to use because you can shop by color. Sometimes I need, for example, an orange pillow-- all I have to do is hit the tab to shop under ‘orange’ and I get tons of selections. So much easier than sifting through other sites to find specific color pillows. 

Paris Wexler: I use Shop Decorator because they work with artisans all over the world to inspire their textiles. I refuse to use Amazon or any big box companies. Shop Decorator is ethical and has luxe options-- I feel good about shopping there. 

Doris Demarco: One of my clients actually told me about Shop Decorator and I have been using it ever since. The quality of the product is unheard of. Especially the blackout drapery. 

Jade Oliverie: When I think of Shop Decorator, I think of affordable textiles. Shop Decorator is my new go-to for drapery especially. They sell drapery and sheer bundles, which makes my life as a designer so much easier. 

Shop Decorator: What do you think of other interior designers' choices? 

Jamie Alexander: Jade’s design sticks out to me as successful because her traditional design theme is easily readable. The balance of the dark curtains with the light pillows was a genius way to make her room feel cozy and her scheme felt. 

Joe Trunball: I think Paris wins this one. Her design feels clean without feeling sterile. She really nailed a minimalistic vibe without going overboard. 

Paris Wexler: I think Jamie’s pillows compliment his drapery the best. He balanced a pair of medium toned grey pillows with a dark curtain and it makes for a harmonious space. 

Doris Demarco: I think Paris and Jamie are tied for me. Even though their design aesthetics are nearly opposite--minimalist vs.tribal, they both do a solid job at creating an interior that feels welcoming because of their balanced tones.
Jade Oliverie: I am weary of Doris’s use of pattern--it feels slightly chaotic to me; but I do normally love the concept of mixing patterns. I think when used in the right scales, it can be really successful. I think I just would have done a more solid pillow for the front pillow.
The transformation is dramatic from before to after photos.
Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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