Home decorating experts share their best design tips

We spoke to 17 international experts to get the inside scoop on the hottest home trends

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Michael Bruno

Designer: Michael Bruno

Q: If someone had $1000 to spend on a home, where do you suggest they spend it?
A: I would suggest donating $1000 to your local animal shelter! Adopt a dog or cat because there is nothing better than a loyal friend waiting for you at the door.

Q: $10,000?
A: I would recommend purchasing one great piece you’ll see every day, that makes you smile and you’ll keep for a lifetime.

Q: What big statement making pieces are people buying now? Has it changed?
A: People are putting their resources into Fine Art. The proliferation of art fairs and online access to great art has increased the exposure and heightened the interest for design-conscious consumers. I believe the most important rule here is to buy the best piece you can afford.

Q: Do you see a trend in the types of things people are buying?
That trend can be summed up in one word: unique. People want to own things that are truly special and that they won’t see elsewhere.

Designer: Brad Ford


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: I really want something designed by Carl Aubock. Whether it’s a floor lamp, a bottle opener or bookends. I love his work and I think he should be more celebrated.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?
A: Painting and lighting. Painting can be relatively inexpensive and easy to change. Experiment with bold color even if it’s only on one accent wall. Lighting is also a great way to set the mood. I always like several lamps in a room, but make sure they’re all on the same dimmer or have the same type of bulb that has a low wattage. It can instantly make a space feel warm and inviting.

Q: What are your secrets for staying organized?
A: Lots of storage and plenty of bookshelves. Also, make sure you edit or throw things away. There’s nothing worse than visual clutter. I know from experience it will end up cluttering your mind and make you feel totally out of allignment.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make?
A: Too many layers. People need to learn when to stop. Some of the best spaces have very little in them, but what they do have can often times tell quite a story. I always say you can make just as strong a statement by whispering as you can shouting.

Designer: Theresa Casey


 

Q: Where do you spend on your home?
A: Elements that have impact that take centre stage, be it a fireplace or built-ins, and lighting is key as well. For example if you get a beautiful 40’s chandelier for your dining room this can set the whole tone and ambiance for everything else.

Q: What are your secrets for staying organized?
A: Have a place for everything. If your house has piles of stuff everywhere, it doesn’t necessary mean you are a slob just that you don’t have a storage system in place. Look at where you have clutter in your house and see how you can create a place for things. For our clients we give them a road map of how to tackle storage issues and provide options that are specific to you and your family.

Q: What’s your most cherished item for your home?
A: The desk that I had sent over from Ireland that belonged to my Grandmother, which was a gift to her from my Granddad in the 1930′s.

Q: What’s your number one design rule?
A: Make sure you have a good floor plan. I tell my clients that the most important element that will impact their project most significantly is a strong plan that addresses their needs; one, which analyzes the possibilities for shifting locations of existing functions while making room for expansion. It doesn’t matter how beautifully a space is finished – if the planning doesn’t work, it will never work.

Designers: Lars and Jason Dressler


 

Q: What’s one design trend you are excited to see come back?
A: Heirloom furniture; the idea that you are buying a piece of furniture for your lifetime and to pass on to others. Something that is well built, with good materials and a timeless aesthetic, not just based on trends or what’s hot and fleeting.

Q: What’s your number one design rule?
A: Design with quality in mind.

Q: How has the way people live in their spaces changed? How will it continue to change?
A: Many people in urban areas are learning to live in smaller spaces. We’re encouraged to see a shift away from the huge dream home toward streamlined spaces where the essentials fulfill your senses and meet your needs.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?
A: A big mistake is to try to make your home look like something you have seen rather than using what you have and being true to yourself and your lifestyle. The most beautiful, comfortable and engaging homes are the ones where you get a real sense of the people who live there, eccentricities and all.

Designer: Brian Gluckstein


 

Q: What’s your go-to paint colour – tried, tested and true?
A: Anything from my new GlucksteinHome Colour Collection fan deck for Benjamin Moore.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?

A: Colour and art

Q: What’s your design motto?
A: Understated elegance

Q: What’s your most cherished item for your home?

A: My Louis XVI library desk. It was a gift from my parents.

Q: What material do you love to design with?
A: Stone

Q: How has the way people live in their spaces changed?
A: People are using every space now and not restricting areas, like the traditional living room, for special occasions. People are more relaxed in using all of their spaces and are entertaining more than ever before.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?
A: Not having a plan before they start shopping.

Designer: Jill Greaves


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: A writing desk for the living room – drawers to hide bits and pieces, a lovely top to display family photos and flowers

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year?
A: I love the new contrast colours that we are seeing – deep but muted earth tones, blues and purples.

Q: What’s your design motto?
A: Smart and sexy. We try to bring emotion to every home we touch.

Q: How is environmentalism changing design?
A: Green roofs, geothermal heating and energy savvy design – we have to make sure our designs are practical and smart. Eco is a huge new part of our design process.

Q: What’s your most cherished item for your home?
A: An antique clock that belonged to my grandmother. It sits on the mantle in the dining room and reminds me of her.

Q: Minimalism, or maximalism?

A: Minimal-ish with a huge dose of humanity. We aren’t programmed to live solely in straight lines and sharp edges – we need more tactile environments.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?

A: Furniture that doesn’t work together. A mish mash of items that don’t relate. Sometimes we need to update and clear out things that no longer work.

Designer: Aaron Hooey


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: SKLO mobile, made in Eastern Europe by master glass blowers. Absolutely stunning in every way.

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year? What colour combinations are inspiring you this year?
A: Gray has become a staple in the home assortment. It is the new classic colour. Don’t be afraid of colour – bright lemon, bright green, orange poppy can be fun when used right (colours in spring collection).

Q: What’s one design trend you are excited to see come back?

A: Wallpaper. The use of wallpaper in fun, imaginative ways.

Q: What’s your design motto?

A: Mixing materials as well as texture so there is balance within a room (i.e. glass coffee table and cement side table)

Q: How has the way people live in their spaces changed? How will it continue to change?
A: There is no formal living in society any more. Comfort and ease drive our design and existence within our homes. Formal living rooms could become a library. The living room, dining room and library have all become one.

Designer: Marilyn Denis


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: I am in search of a good coffee table for my living room.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?
A: Big framed artwork! I personally prefer a fine arrangement or gallery wall of black and white framed photos.

Q: What’s your most cherished item for your home?

A: An old green radio that my mom had in her kitchen when I was a kid – she had saved it for me and it now resides on a shelf in my home office.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? Same question for $100?
A: I would combine the dollar amount and put the $1,100 towards minor maintenance and repairs that still need to be done throughout the home.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?
A: I think the biggest mistake people make, is asking for my opinion on home décor. I love design, but I don’t have the creativity and savvy of a designer. I (just like my viewers) learn quite a lot from the designers and lifestyle experts I interview and feature regularly on The Marilyn Denis Show.

Designer: Mason


 

Q: Where do you spend on your home? Where do you save?
A: We typically spend on architectural surfaces such as great flooring and beautiful countertops. Quality finishes we love are well worth the investment and become even more beautiful with time. Where we save is in accessories and decoration; items that are easily disposable and change as your taste and preferences constantly evolve.

Q: If you could only buy one thing for your house, what would it be?
Original art.

Q: What material do you love to design with?
A: Wood will make its way in some form into all of our designs. The natural beauty of its tonality, graining and variation brings immediate beauty into any space. Each species of wood has its own language and plays a different character and personality.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?
A mistake we often see people make is trying to stay current with too many design trends. Like fashion, home décor cycles by season. We find that people become less in tune with what their personal décor style is, so if they can stay true to their own individuality, their homes will be intrinsically beautiful.

Designer: Kenneth Montague


 

Q: Where do you spend on your home. Where do you save?
A: I spend a lot on contemporary art, but save over time by always buying quality in my appliances and furniture. Why should you ever have to replace a refrigerator? Or a classic, well-made coffee table, for that matter??

Q: What material do you love to design with?
A: African fabrics. They have a natural relationship with my modernist asthetic.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? $100?

A: $1000? A great stereo system with a turntable and proper loudspeakers. Death to ugly iPod holders paired with cheap bookshelf speakers! $100? A beautiful coffee table art book, but only if it reflects your true passions.

Designer: Ricky Mugford


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: Cashmere throw from Restoration Hardware – bought one last year, loved it.

Q: What’s one design trend you are excited to see come back?
Ikat, Fairisle, Navajo and other traditional (tribal) patterns.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?
A: Amazing art – even if it’s homemade, make something too big!

Q: What’s fun in design in 2012?
A: Colour – used full blast but with a minimalist sensibility.

Q: What material do you love to design with?
A: Fabric – pretty much anything from Maharam.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? Same question for $100?
A: An Arne Jacobson AJ floor lamp (I’d still have $3.00 left over) – LED light bulbs.

Designer: Karim Rashid


 

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year? What colour combinations are inspiring you this year?
A: I am excited about purple this year. It gives a sense of intimacy. Lately I’ve been considering wearing all purple but Prince already has that color covered.

Q: What’s one design trend you are excited to see come back?
A: No trends should come back. We should face the future and progress yet to be seen.

Q: What’s the role of technology in design?
A: My ideal home is a future house. It’s self-sustained, good for the environment, flooded with light, and the reflections of thousands of colors. It is a practical, minimal, sensorial space that embraces the latest technology. It would be comptley organic and round with no corners, soft and amorphpus with lots of light. It has a state of the art design studio, music studio, and luxurious, sensual bed and bath for my wife and I. The walls would be liquid crytal screens that I could change constantly with imagery, film, news, colour and sound.

Q: What’s your number one design rule?
A: Anytime you buy something for your home, get rid of something else. Buy a vase; get rid of a vase.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? Same question for $100?
A: I would spend the $1000 on a contractor to knock down walls that are not structural and open up spaces as much as possible. For $100 I would paint the walls a new colour.

Designer: Cindy Rendeley


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: A coffee table with hydraulic base that extends to become a dining table.

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year?
A: White.

Q: What colour combinations are inspiring you this year?
A: White on white.

Q: What’s fun in design in 2012?
A: Iconic mid-20th century furniture pieces with new 21st century fabrics and finishes.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? $100?
A: For $1000, new sheets and towels. For $100, fresh cut flowers for three or four weeks.

Designer: Shawn Place


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: New flooring.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?
A: Paint the whole interior white and let your “things” be on display – the walls are the backdrop to your life .

Q: What are your secrets for staying organized?
A: I wrote a note about it, now where did I put it…

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? $100?
A: I’m renovating the bathrooms right now, so perhaps Cantu in Vancouver for both amounts.

Designer: Tommy Smythe


 

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year?
A: I hear burgundy is back (but now it’s called bordeaux) – first of all, I’m not sure I’m ready! Secondly, I’m not fooled by the new name. It’s burgundy.

Q: What’s the easiest way to make a big statement in your home?
A: Books. Nothing says more about who you are than the books you share and display for the enjoyment of others. They can be had at any price and add the ‘you’ to your space.

Q: What are your secrets for staying organized?
A: I am not qualified to answer that question – but am really looking forward to what everybody else says…notepad ready.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? $100?
A: Flowers. That’s my answer to both questions.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to their home?
A: The biggest mistake I see in my work is the decision to rush through the design process. Really good interiors take time and money. There’s no quick fix. Well, there is; but it’s not chic.

Designer: William Yeoward


 

Q: What’s the one must-have for your home this year?
A: A new dog. My dear Poppy died in the summer and I have decided to make sure I spend 2012 with a youngster

Q: What new colour are you excited about this year? What colour combinations are inspiring you this year?
A: Ochre and grey I think is blindingly chic.

Q: What’s one design trend you are excited to see come back?
A: An appreciation of craftsmen and an appreciation of quality.

Q: What’s your design motto?
A: Theres never too much colour and never too much quality.

Q: If you could only buy one thing for your house, what would it be?
Even more books.

Q: What material do you love to work with?
A: Crystal fabric and wood.

Q: If you had $1000 to spend on your home, where? $100?
A: For 1000? Entertaining 16 of my favorite people round a table I’ve had all day to set. For $100?  Great claret – I’m an entertainer!!

Designer: Amy Lau


 

Q: What’s the one must-have item this year?
A: A terrarium.

Q: What trend are you excited to see come back?
A: Naturalism, petrified wood and anything that has a sense of the artisan’s hand.

Q: How do you make a big statement in a room?
A: Colour and pattern. There are three things that can pull a room together: a rug, pillows and art.

Q: What’s your design motto?
A: Curate to decorate.

Q: How do you stay organized?
A: Do you love it? Do you need it? Does it enhance your life? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then throw it away!

Q: What material do you love to design with?
A: Blue painters tape. I walk around with it on my wrist and use it to map everything out. On the walls, on the floor – everything I can so I can get a sense of scale and proportion.

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