Design Stars Share Their
Tips To Achieve Your Own Superior Interiors!
By Cheryl Alexander
Every design project is as unique as the person who designs it. Each project has its own function, flair and feel. With this in mind, we asked some lead designers to share their favorite projects, detailing how they collaborated with the clients, what they used for inspiration and why they loved these particular spaces and projects. Interior design has never been so much fun or so informative!
This designer’s style is rooted in the rustic beauty of the Texas Hill Country, blending organic elements with sleek modern lines to create rich, inviting spaces with layers of interest. She describes her unique design style as “Luxurious comfort. Livable and refined.” Her accomplishments include creating a successful manufacturing and design business called Maggie N Me; previously being Neiman Marcus product designer; co-founder of LuxeRED, a luxury Real Estate Design firm; and an HGTV Design Star. Abby is a multi-media celebrity on HGTV and CBS, and continues to contribute to other television, radio, and live audience performances. She is an author, blogger and commentator on topics of design, real estate and success.
Set Design For Great Day Houston
Abby frequents the KHOU 11 Great Day Houston show with Deborah Duncan to offer new tips and insights into style and design. One of her segments featured Design Trends of 2015, and the set was created with loads of texture and color. Since layering patterns and texture is key to creating a dynamic, rich environment, the design included a weathered, moss green painted and mirrored screen for a backdrop. In front, a contemporary sofa table holding exotic animal horns and agave plants is layered against a seating arrangement which features chairs upholstered in the Pantone color of the year, Marsala. A petrified rock table with chrome legs (a big trend next year) sits between the two chairs. “By mixing primitive elements with a contemporary spin, we achieve a new level of contrast and interest that makes design in 2015 so much fun!” said Abby.
The Wolf Creek Lodge Guest House
A unique ranch home in Wimberley was converted into a Guest House for visiting tourists and large get-togethers. The goal of the homeowner was to give this rustic ranch home a modern update while preparing it to function as a rentable lodge. Throughout is the designer’s unique signature; her design style fits the personality of the Hill Country while still providing several “wow” factors. The lodge is constructed with timbers originally hand-logged in the 1820s to build a barn in Gettysburg, Pa. The ax marks are still visible on each timber. They hold great history, most notably by housing Confederate troops before the famous battle of Gettysburg. Vaulted wood ceilings and hand-laid stone floors that run the length of the lodge give it a grand but rustic feel. A tiger oak door opens to a large master suite, beautifully decorated with an unconventional but jaw-dropping headboard. The art, including the headboard, facilitates the rustic transformation into an upscale, chic-ranch vibe. The color scheme and inspiration come from years of working in midwest Texas ranch and hacienda-style homes in the surrounding areas of Abilene.
“Balance and patience are key to successful design. Don’t be in such a hurry that you purchase a ‘good enough for now’ piece when you can save up for something you truly love and need that can become a building block in your home for years to come. I find in our consumer culture we often look for the fast and cheap option and wonder why it never seems to come together in the long run. Not only are we working from unsustainable pieces but there’s no love invested. The love you feel for each and every item is what will make it truly a unique home. And remember, if it doesn’t match your existing style, but you love it, get it! As a designer it is in my professional opinion that an unexpected pop of something unlike the rest of the room’s style is what keeps things interesting!”
Kari Whitman, celebrity interior designer, is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. Kari Whitman Interiors is a high-end, residential and commercial “one-stop-shop” design and construction firm, with offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Aspen. Kari’s firm has done projects all over the world, including Europe and Asia.
Clients have flocked to her firm for her trademark timeless, elegant and eclectic style. Kari fashions spaces for her clients that reflect their personality, affinities and needs. Her work has graced 14 covers and over 100 articles worldwide. From athletes to actors to royal families, or even a modest Juice Bar, no job is too big or too small for Kari’s firm. She is also the founder of Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue (aceofheartsdogs.com) a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs from Los Angeles County shelters the day they are scheduled for euthanized.
Dallas Breakfast Room
This is a room of surprising finds and bold ideas. Kari removed a whole wall in order to open the space and make it feel larger. The dining table was found in Italy, and all of the seating is re-upholstered, mid-century vintage. The felt carpet from Liora Manne was originally selected for the floor, but as the room came together, the carpet ironically ended up on the ceiling! The couture flatware storage cabinet, produced by a Los Angeles-based artist, is 10 feet long by seven feet high. This client’s affinity for couture clothing made this room quite an unexpected showpiece, along with the large blue horse painting by Lutz. While shopping with the client, the two saw the horse hanging in a very high-end clothing store, but it was not for sale. “After begging and pleading, and paying more we should have,” said Kari, “it became a successful piece in this hip, funky breakfast room.”
“Buying timeless pieces is always the best way to go. Something you can change slightly, move to another room and use for another lifetime. I feel that the best investment is to spend your money on lighting and art, as there is no wear and tear and can be relocated to other areas of your home to create a new aesthetic.”
The Design Firm was founded in 1979 by Eric and Kara Wuellner to design and install custom-finished atmospheres that optimize the living environment. Since 1979, over 1,000 manufacturers are represented. Each client receives a team of designers collaborating on their home. Since their clients represent so many different styles, a design team of 10 is used to capture their look. Client priorities may be color, room function, allocation of funds, elegance and beauty. The Design Firm’s clients have worked hard for years and can now bring their home up to the level of design they’ve always wanted. The Firm’s showroom houses 12 custom-finished atmospheres as examples, and they are known for creating dramatic atmospheres with skillful use of color.
Elegant Sitting & Dining
The client uses this area for living and dining purposes, which designates it as an area for entertaining. Friends and and family can come together for food, wine, game nights and more. This multi-purpose room is anchored by its symmetrical aesthetic and luminous charm. Fabulous accessories add to the allure and broaden the focus of the room. The muted buff backdrop provides an ideal palette for bold contrasting hues. Cerulean-hued throw pillows, bright, saffron-tinted figures and a splash of crimson provide playful pops of color.
The glass and wrought iron table blends with the hanging gilded mirrors in the background. Combined with the pair of elegant, mirrored chiffoniers, they provide depth and glamour to the setting. The client loves the transformation of their one-dimensional alcove into a swank, multifaceted space, ideal for fun feasts and festive parties.
Casita Guest Retreat
The Casita Guest Retreat is a dwelling conducive to tranquility and relaxation. Ochre tones were paired with Arcadian textures and vermillion accents to achieve the rustic aura the client desired. The luxuriant space boasts alpine ceilings, ideal for oversized furniture, and lofty window treatments, which enhance the space’s sizeable proportions. The custom-designed sofa is upholstered in warm, white textured velvet and intensified dark carvings for contrast. The window treatments match the sofa in tone, maintaining the neutral element of the room. The Spanish armchair, upholstered with an antique hand-woven Killian rug, is a bold and artful addition to the room and plays to the luminous painting hanging above it. The nesting tables supplement other textures in the room, as they are lacquered in edged sheets of German silver. Placing the furniture at angles added energy and an overall illusion of space to the room. In short, The Design Firm fulfilled the client’s desire for a provincial escape.
“For projects big or small, we recommend working with a designer in order to plan appropriately for time frame and costs. Starting a project with the big picture in mind gives a better understanding of how to tie together individual pieces to create an amazing atmosphere.”
This designer first demonstrated her talent when she was offered the opportunity to stage model homes while working in property management. After one of her model-home designs won an award, she decided to follow her passion for interior design full-time. A wife and working mom, Tiffany says she loves interior design and describes her style as “classic with a twist,” mixing traditional pieces with a little rock ’n roll. She is the Season 8 winner of HGTV Design Star and the host of HGTV’s newest show, Most Embarrassing Rooms in America.
The Entertaining Room
Inspiration for this room came from the homeowner whose style had transitioned from traditional to industrial to modern. Tiffany wanted the design to reference all of these style phases. Initially the focus was on purpose, exploring the family’s hobbies and what they love to do: entertain. Furniture was revamped to create a multitude of seating zones with items that did not necessarily match and with each piece playing a different role: the coffee table is rough and worn around the edges; the chest in the far corner is aged with refinement; the tulip table and bench give a nod to the hip vibe of the ’60s; and the chairs are space-age and futuristic. Goth chairs found at an online flash sale proved a big risk, as they were fragile and old. They definitely needed some TLC to live in a home with three young kids, but in the end, they turned out to be the favorite piece in the room. Rich navy drapery became the springboard for the color scheme. The homeowner’s photography was used to create a stunning gallery wall. A mix of high and low pieces were utilized to add character.
“I typically love spaces with a neutral background and surprises of color throughout. I always try to compose a space with a neutral backdrop and make the star players as colorful as possible.”
William Stubbs was named to “AD 100,” Architectural Digest’s list of the World’s Top Designers and Architects. He is president of William W. Stubbs and Associates, a 25-year-old international interior design firm based in Houston whose recent projects have taken him around the world to Kiev, Moscow, London, Hawaii, Acapulco and Palm Beach. His award-winning designs have included renovations of historical buildings, private homes and estates, vacation retreats, commercial multi-family properties, community housing projects for the elderly and most recently, the interior design of a large corporate jet.
Newport Coast Residence
A second home was purchased and remodeled around an extensive contemporary art collection. The dominant feature is a 1970 Roy Lichtenstein work of art. Furnishings were selected to have a classic contemporary feel with very little color and pattern that let the art be the room’s star.
Corona Del Mar Living Room
This home design was inspired by its location — oceanfront — and the owner’s two teenage grandsons. A second home, it needed to take on a dressed-up beach appearance. While everything is light in color, all the fabrics are Sunbrella for maximum durability. The antique French fireplace provides an anchor for the living room, and custom mirrored doors hide technology and extend the magnificent view. The color scheme is a reflection of the view and at night gives a happy tone to the room. All fabric and furnishings have maximum comfort and tactile appeal. The floor is a dark handmade terracotta, which is key to keeping the light scheme grounded.
“Stunning interiors can also function and be comfortable. I start the process with a great furniture arrangement that creates the perfect function. The perfect function supports what a client wants to do in a room. I focus on the relationships supported in a space — party for 8-80, a couple home alone, feeling warm and cozy, reading a book by yourself. Comfort, comfort, comfort. After I achieve the function I move to the color and style.”