Design 101: Redecorate, like a Pro

Have you ever wondered what you need to be aware of that they don’t show you on TV? Want to know some of the important considerations that designers take into account? In this month’s column we reveal some of the best tips and tricks of an interior designer.

There are too many choices, how do you pick?
Regardless of if we are talking about window treatment fabric, china patterns, or wallpaper, the same general rule applies. Beautiful pieces used simply always yield pleasing results. Just like when you get dressed, a single striking accent makes a confident statement and is much easier to make work than balancing multiple items all vying for attention. Select the quality piece and don’t make it compete with anything.
Pro Tip: There are no two colors that cannot work together. Only when we start introducing third and fourth colors do we really start to get in trouble. Similarly, patterns can read as color, so limit the use of chevrons or other “noise.” 

Which pieces do I select first?
Typically people want to start with selecting paint, but this is actually one of the last things to pick. We can mix any color paint you want, so we can always get a color that works. When determining where to start, always begin with the items you have the fewest choices in. Only one sofa will work? Then that is where we start. Expand out through all the options from fewest to most plentiful. At the end, the shade of paint you need to complete the room is only one custom mix away.
Pro Tip: Consider the function of the room first; function trumps ornament.

How do I know what paint color to select?
The way in which professional designers select is based on being able to actually see what the color is. Aside from color acuity based on genetics, understanding what a color really looks like is greatly aided by separating it from other colors when you judge it. Much like smelling coffee beans between sampling scents, we border our samples in white so that we have an untainted view of the shade and its undertones.
Pro Tip: Colors are going to look different based on the quality of the light you see them in.  Always make sure to check the color in the actual space where it is going to be applied, and consider the lighting conditions that will be most prevalent during the time you will be occupying the space. 

I know what color paint I want. Does the brand matter?
While different brands of paint are not all created equal, you need to remember that even within a single brand the characteristics of the paint vary tremendously. We love the cleanability of higher sheen paints, but they require that your walls are in better condition. Don’t forget about humidity, wear, the chemicals that are used to clean it… With so many things to consider, do what we do, ask. There is no shame in asking the expert at the paint store what the best option is for your situation. Plus you’ll save both time and money.
Pro Tip: The smell of new paint is actually volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) being released into the space, and they are in no way good for you. If you don’t have the ability or time to ventilate the space, consider asking about a low or ideally no VOC paint. (And iIf you really want to learn about something special, drop us an email and we’ll tell you about negative VOC paint!)

Now that the walls are painted, how do I put my artwork back up?
You can contact your local framer and either they can hang it for you or recommend an installer who can. If you want to DIY it, using a laser to mark a line on the wall doesn’t risk leaving any marks, unlike a pencil or the metal end of a tape measure which can scuff the wall as it retracts.
Pro Tip: Make sure to make the top level with any horizontal line that your eye will be drawn to, typically the ceiling or crown. It doesn’t matter if all of your pieces are perfectly level if the ceiling is not and they all look off. The same principle applies to sloped ceilings or stairs.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 37 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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