How to Get the Most Out of Your Color Consultation

So excited to announce this week that I am the official color consultant for Paintzen San Francisco! They’re basically “Uber for painting your home” (pardon the overused *tech analogy* description) – a super turnkey, totally online process, where you pick what you want to have painted, they’ll deliver a fair quote online, and then you can schedule licensed + insured painters to get it done. The thing is, you need to tell them what colors you want to use. And if you can’t decide, I’m your gal (at least in the SF Bay Area).

(And if you’d like some bonus reading, Paintzen featured me as their Designer of the Month – here’s my lil interview on their blog!).

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paint Fan Deck

Just one of several paint chip fan decks from Benjamin Moore! Soooo many colors.

But the world of colors is ridiculously daunting, with wayyy too many colors and brands to choose from. And if you’re hoping to paint your walls just once, or just once in a while, it might feel kind of overwhelming to distill all the options down to a final paint scheme and hope you get it right the first time (if you don’t, though, don’t worry – it’s literally just paint so you can always repaint or paint it back to the previous color). So, unless you have a knack for colors + color theory, getting help via a quick color consultation could be really helpful and save you a lot of time in the process!

Whether you choose to pay an interior designer to help consult on color, or just head to a paint store and talk to the store’s paint expert (some paint stores have in-house color consultants), here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your color consultation:

TIP 1: HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANT

Before diving into paint chips, first figure out your vision for the rooms / walls you want painted. Start on sites like Houzz or Pinterest, find inspiration images, and show your color consultant those images. If your heart is pulling you in different directions for a room, narrow it down to 2 different directions max. 3 is too many.

TIP 2: DO THE CONSULTATION DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS

The truest way for you to be able to see the differences across paint chips in the same color family is to view them in daylight. BUT after you take your paint chips home, it’s also important to take the time to view the paint chips (or paint samples, if you paint larger swatches on your wall) during the times you’ll be home. That means if you are always in the office 9-6pm, make sure to decide if you also like the color in the evenings when you’re home to enjoy your room.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Paintzen Projects by Noz Design

These are 4 rooms I’ve had painted for my clients, all working with Paintzen. One plug for them is they have paint crews with the tools and skills to do wallpaper effects like stripes, herringbone, chevrons, etc.

TIP 3: FIGURE OUT WHAT DIRECTION YOUR WINDOWS FACE

If you’re doing a consultation in your space, your color consultant will know to assess what direction your sunlight comes from. If you’re headed to a paint store, figure this out ahead of time and make sure to tell the store expert! Especially with whites and light greys, paint colors can look completely different, depending on whether you have indirect north-facing light, western afternoon sunset light, or direct full exposure south-facing light! Your iPhone has a compass app (totally works!), or you can do a Google Maps search for your building to figure it out.

TIP 4: DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO BOLD

The great thing about paint is, even though it can make a room feel completely different, it’s really just paint (I know I just said this earlier, but it bears repeating!). Which means, even for a rental home, you can always paint it back. If you’re loving a dark or bold color, definitely ask your color consultant to select the right shade of that bold color. It’s likely that the paint chip will feel more muted than the inspiration photo you show, but trust the consultant: photos always deceive the actual color in real life, and end up looking brighter or more saturated in the photo.

NOZNOZNOZ - Color Consultation - Go Bold Even Exteriors

Speaking of BOLD… love that San Francisco has no rules about what color you can paint your house or building. This technicolor art deco fantasy is in the Castro on 17th Street.

FINAL TIP: END THE CONSULT WITH A MAX OF 3 OPTIONS

With as many paint shades as there are, you might be tempted to keep your options open with 4-5 paint shades that you hang on the wall. That is too many. By the end of your consultation, your consultant should help you land on 3 or fewer final options. Those 3 might be 3 very similar shades, or 2 similar shades and 1 totally different option – doesn’t matter. A max of 3 per room / wall will lead to a much more successful final selection, and less over-thinking. A good color consultation should close with you feeling confident about making a decision for your final paint color!

If you have any other questions or want advice on other parts of the color selection process, let me know anytime!

The 2 Best Things IKEA Sells

As a designer who cares a lot about the environment and minimizing waste by keeping or updating existing furniture, I’m usually at odds with everything IKEA represents. While I can appreciate their mission to bring affordable modern design to the masses, the reality is that they sell disposable furniture, built to last only a while, and priced to keep the disposers from feeling too guilty about wasting money if they’re too busy to try to resell their IKEA remains.

But there ARE two amazing, shockingly quality items that IKEA carries, that I need to celebrate them for, because they’re such high value items. And they’re both mirrors / mirrored.

FIRST BEST THING, WHICH IS SO BEST: IKEA’s Hovet Mirror ($129)

NOZNOZNOZ - My IKEA Hovet Mirror

At a towering 6’6” tall, the Hovet mirror is the most fantastic thing IKEA sells, the most fantastic IKEA thing I’ve ever bought on Craigslist, and the only IKEA thing I recommend to all my clients. For anyone who’s ever been frustrated by “skinny” mirrors and ‘fatty” mirrors in dressing rooms, the Hovet mirror is sturdy and manufactured really well to return an accurate reflection of you in front of it. The frame is a brushed aluminum, which is maybe a little more modern than some folks are into, but to me, the frame is so thin that it mostly disappears.

Plus, most mirrors at any other reasonably priced retailer like West Elm, Room & Board, etc. sell framed mirrors anywhere from $400 to $900 – I find that for a bedroom / closet dressing mirror, a nicer frame isn’t worth the additional cost.

NOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Hovet vs West Elm search ads.png

I just noticed that when you do a google search for “ikea hovet mirror,” a WEST ELM mirror ad pops up – that’s how popular this mirror is?! 

While several of my clients and I have just leaned our mirrors against a wall, with the base of the mirror on the floor (pro tip: having a slight angle by resting a mirror on the floor can make you feel a little slimmer in the mirror!), this client of mine has the mirror hanging down the hallway from the front door (the Hovet comes with mounting hardware).

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Breakfast 4

My pro tip would be that if you live in an area where Craigslist is a thing, check there first! Since mirrors are seldom moved around or handled, a used one is likely to look great or like-new, and you won’t have to deal with the ridiculous amounts of cardboard packaging that come with buying a new one.

OTHER BEST THING: IKEA’s Godmorgon Medicine Cabinet ($150-240)

NOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Godmorgon 2 door medicine cabinetNOZNOZNOZ - IKEA Godmorgon 2 door medicine cabinet - sides

While I’ve not used this product in a project yet, the IKEA Godmorgon medicine cabinet is a steal for an inside-and-outside mirrored unit – my go-to brand for medicine cabinets, Robern, offers interior mirrored cabinets for anywhere from $500 to $2,500 retail (granted, the Robern units offer lots of bells & whistles); but if you are renovating your bathroom on a budget, the Godmorgon unit would be a great value, and will look much more expensive than its price. Plus the interior of the Godmorgon, on top of being mirrored, includes 4 tempered glass shelves – so you could add your own DIY lighting at the top of this unit, and it would cast light all the way through!

The only downside to the Godmorgon is its dimensions. Whether you go with the one-door or the two-door unit, the widest single pane mirror you’ll get is 20”, which is a bit of a bummer if you were hoping for a more luxe look (I’m not a big fan of the seam down the middle). And the 1-door only comes in a 15ish-inch-wide option, which is VERY limiting.

Also, I haven’t been able to confirm based on the instruction / install guides whether you can recess these cabinets into the wall, or if they have to be surface-mounted. Despite the limitations of this unit, though, it’s still one of the best things IKEA offers.

And besides these two mirrored value-spectaculars, I’ll go back to having a bone to pick about IKEA.

LEATHER KNOWLEDGE: Quality + Grain Vocab

My favorite of all the San Francisco street festivals is Folsom Street Fair – coming up this Sunday – and in the spirit of its celebration of BDSM / kink / leather lifestyle, this post is dedicated to leather knowledge!

Leather is one of my favorite materials, but with the huge range in price points, many animal hide types, and nonintuitive terminology for quality levels (and frankly, the definitions online are rather confusing), it can be pretty daunting to shop for it. And if you’re thinking of making a pricy furniture purchase, it’s super important to have as much knowledge about what you’re buying as possible.

NOZNOZNOZ - Leather Knowledge - Hides in a row

Special thanks to Joel at HD Buttercup in San Francisco for letting me snap some photos of the fabulous leather hide samples they have on display!

FIRST: WHAT IS LEATHER GRAIN?

Think of a leather hide as being composed of layers – 1) the hair/fur; 2) the “skin” surface layer, which like human skin has grooves, wrinkles, maybe a couple scars from healed wounds, and a lot of character; 3) the layer underneath called the “split”, which is still leather but without the 2) layer’s “skin” texture.

The grain also refers to the surface of 2) the “skin” – each leather hide has its own unique grain pattern, kind of like human fingerprints.

FULL GRAIN LEATHER:

Full Grain is the highest-quality leather you can get. It’s basically the full hide, with the hair/fur removed. Its quality comes from 2 main reasons: because it’s both the 2) and 3) layers, and more importantly, the better, less-flawed hides are reserved for Full Grain – because the hide’s natural grain surface is preserved as much as possible, producers will select those pieces with fewer blemishes and irregularities to make into Full Grain leather.

You can see the leather layers in this photo: the upper leather sample is Full Grain, and the bottom is Top Grain – it's thinner, and missing the lower split layer.

You can see the leather layers in this photo: the upper leather sample is Full Grain, and the bottom is Top Grain – it’s thinner, and missing the lower split layer.

TOP GRAIN LEATHER:

Whereas Full Grain leather is made of layers 2) and 3), Top Grain leather is the upper 2) skin” layer, with the lower 3) “split” removed. It’s thinner without the split and also more pliable, but still 100% high quality leather. Top Grain leather is very commonly used in higher-end furniture production, because it’s still durable like Full Grain leather, but more affordable because less-perfect hides are used, so Top Grain leather is produced at a higher volume.

Since hides used for Top Grain leather have more blemishes and irregularities than Full Grain, part of the production process includes sanding the surface of those flaws away, and then stamping a faux grain back onto the leather, so that the final piece appears flawless.

THE “SPLIT”:

As you might have suspected, the lower split layer of leather is effectively suede and can be used as such. Thickness of the split depends on the hide and the production process, so it can be thin for suede clothing, or much thicker and tougher for work applications. Lesser-quality splits are also used in Bycast Leather production (see below).

MORE AFFORDABLE LEATHERS / “LEATHERS”:

If you’ve shopped for leather furniture before, you’ve definitely seen that there are sometimes VERY affordable options out there, especially compared to higher-end retailers. The nice thing about leather is you pretty much get what you pay for. Full and Top Grain leathers last longer and wear better with a lot of use. They also let your skin breathe, unlike the below leather types which will give you that sweaty “sticking to my couch” feeling. So, if you’re planning to purchase a leather couch or chair that you intend to sit in often and keep for a long time, make the investment.

But regardless of your budget or whether you just want a leather piece for its good looks, it’s important to be aware of what you’re buying when reading product descriptions.

CORRECTED GRAIN LEATHER:

Some leather hides are just so flawed or unattractive that they won’t qualify for Full or Top Grain production. What happens here is the ENTIRE SURFACE of the leather gets sanded away (just like the blemishes in Top Grain hides), and then the entire thing gets stamped with a faux-grain. Then the surface is sealed with polyurethane. You’re still getting a 100% intact leather piece, but it’s underneath the sealant and stamped grain.

BYCAST LEATHER:

Some splits are too flawed or too thin for normal use. So, producers take these splits and give them the Corrected Grain treatment: a faux-grain stamping, and a polyurethane sealant. Again, it still is leather technically (moreso a byproduct of regular leather production), but if you sit in a chair made of Corrected Grain or Bycast Leather, your skin isn’t actually in contact with leather.

BONDED LEATHER (WHICH SHOULD BE “LEATHER”):

NOZNOZNOZ - Bonded Leather Comparison

Bonded leather is the Chicken McNugget of leather (sorry McD’s fans – I love fast food, but that sh-t ain’t chicken). You know how all the unusable, inedible parts of a chicken’s body are pulverized, and then reconstituted with fillers and synthetic preservatives / pink sludge to make a food-like McNugget? That’s basically how you make bonded leather.

In making true leather furniture, patterns for the chair backs, sofa arms, etc. are cut out of a hide. After the patterns are cut out, there are a bunch of leather scraps. Bonded leather producers take leather scraps and shred them; then that substance is mixed with chemical binders and plastics to make the upholstery material. Technically, bonded leather only has to be 17% actual leather to qualify. It’s really more of a “leather product” than true leather, the way Kraft Singles now have to be classified as “cheese product” (WOW, a lot of food analogies here).

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. Now you have all the basic quality and grain vocab to be an informed leather shopper!

Happy Folsom Week!!

5 Budget-Friendly Lighting Upgrades

If you browse through enough interior design / decorating blogs, you’ll get the message that lighting is incredibly important in pulling together, if not outright making, a space. Whether you own your home and can punch new lights into the ceiling, or you’re in a rental with a curmudgeonly landlord, there are lots of ways to upgrade your current lighting situation without breaking the bank or needing an electrician.

1. HIDE YOUR NIPPLES!

This is the living room in my old apartment, before I replaced the light with a crystal chandelier I found on Craigslist for $80.

This is the living room in my old apartment, before I replaced the light with a crystal chandelier I found on Craigslist for $80.

One of my greatest pet peeves about all my past rentals (and rentals in general in San Francisco) is the pervasive “nipple ceiling light” – or “boobie/titty light” if you’re so inclined. Not only is it boring and a clear signal that your place came with it, it’s also just a terrible way to distribute light – especially if you have tall ceilings or your specific nipple light has opaque-ish glass.

But, take heart! These fixtures are actually very easy to replace on your own, or by hiring a handyman for 30 minutes. You can find pre-owned fixtures pretty often on Craigslist, or buy a new fixture on places like Lamps Plus in budget brackets like “under $100” and “under $200”. Plus, if/when you move, you can take your fixture with you and just put the old nipple light back.

2. ACCENT LAMPS ARE DECORATIONS, TOO

If your ceiling light game is already on-point (or you don’t want to mess with it), accent lamps do wonders for rooms but sometimes get overlooked. While you’re shopping for decorative accents like vases, books, or pillows, add a table lamp to the mix – accenty AND functional.

Sometimes, though, beautiful designer table lamps are hilariously expensive. For example, I’m in love with Moooi’s Rabbit Lamp, but at ~$550 each, I just can’t right now. I’m on a self-employment budget. I ate peanut butter pretzel bites for lunch.

NOZNOZNOZ – Moooi Lamp DIY - pretzels

So if you find yourself in a similar predicament, get creative with DIY! eBay, yard sales, Craigslist, and Goodwill are fabulous places to find really inexpensive cool lamp bases. Try searching for colors, animals, or things, like “pink lamp” or “monkey lamp.” Then, spray paint the lamp base and/or add a new lampshade, and voila!

Pre-DIY, the "Before" lamp just felt too Chinoiserie for my style.

Pre-DIY, the “Before” lamp just felt too Chinoiserie for my style.

TOTAL COST OF THAT DIY: $25 ($5 for spray paint and $20 for the lampshade)

3. SHOW OFF THE LIGHTBULBS

Hedge's man cave lighting

Hedge’s man cave lighting

These days, filament bulbs are everywhere, and light fixtures with exposed bulbs are de la mode. At $5-20 each, filament bulbs aren’t cheap. Nor do they put out that much light – but the glow they cast is very pretty mood lighting, and the filament patterns are beautiful when lit.

4. GO WIRELESS + GET CRAZY

Someone’s totally tricked out gaming room

As a child of the 90’s, the novelty of being able to Clap-On Clap-Off your lights was huge. So when Philips came out with Hue, wireless-enabled color-changing magic bulbs, duh I got the set. Mainly I got the set so that I could turn my lights on remotely if I was out of town (or turn them on/off from my phone without getting up). But as LEDs can be any color, you can download apps to make the lights strobe out in disco rainbow patterns and RAGE.

5. SHINY THINGS REFLECT LIGHT

Gold, mirrored, and crystal surfaces bring a lot of light to this black/white space

Taking things a bit farther from actual lighting, consider that your whole room influences the way light feels. If you’ve covered lamps + ceiling lighting but your space still doesn’t feel quite light enough, try adding decor / furniture with reflective surfaces. Mirrors, laquered or glazed pieces, metal accents, and translucent glass or plastic will reflect the light that’s in the room and redirect it from multiple angles, giving a fuller sense of light.

Best Beds for Reading (or Working) in

Hedge and I recently upgraded to a grown-up bed, after having both spent our single days on used mattresses and IKEA beds. Since Hedge loves to read in bed and I like to work on my laptop (read: fall asleep to my Facebook news feed) at night, I wanted to find a bed frame that was well-suited for these functions.

Surprisingly, my Google search attempts only resulted in disappointing links to books I should read in bed, and those hideous reading pillows that look like E.T. with a headlamp. So I realized, maybe no one cares has written about this topic. After 2-3 months of info-gathering online and in showrooms, I now have knowledge to share. Below is a roundup of the best beds for reading or working in:

LET’S START WITH THE BED I CHOSE:

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Noz

The Jane Bed by Modloft was the highest quality option within our grown-up-but-not-yet-baller budget of ~$1,000. It’s sturdy, modern, and upholstered in nice neutral colors. Several sites also offer free white glove delivery + assembly with this bed. Also, before starting my research, I had sketched a design for my ideal bed frame, and this one came really close thanks to its slightly slanted, very wide headboard:

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Headboard

Headboard is wide enough to rest your book/glasses/phone/iPad before you fall asleep.

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Profile

Slightly slanted headboard is a good angle because the incline starts after the top of the mattress. Another added bonus, in case you too have a small dog who likes to climb into bed, is that this bed has wide side panels, which can serve as a stepping stool (critical for Viv, since she’s not allowed to jump up/down from furniture due to a past back injury).

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Noz vs Hedge

Headboard angle is suitable for me to sit up against, and for Hedge to slouch into for reading. He is in a Jedi robe.

A FANCIER OPTION, IF YOU ARE ON THE $BALLER$ PLAN:

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Bolton Bed

The ultimate reading bed, which I got to lie in at the NYC showroom, is the Bolton Bed by Poliform. The headboard is split at the middle, and each side is adjustable with a push latch: you can push it down to a lower height, or push it down again to bring the headboard back to full height.

Honestly though, this mechanism is a little excessive – I’d probably end up keeping the headboard at full-height all the time; but in general, the bed is stunning both in cloth and in leather, and it comes with optional under-mattress storage (the Jane Bed does not).

The price on this DeLorean of beds is (retail) $10K for basic fabric upholstery and upwards of $20K if you choose fancy distressed full-grain leather.

Side note: there are a few Poliform beds that get the reading-in-bed angled headboard right, but they’re all in the same general price range.

BUT WAIT – A BUDGET-FRIENDLY OPTION:

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Nyvoll Bed

IKEA has recently stepped up its bed game with the Nyvoll Bed ($179-249, Full-King). It’s not upholstered, so you’d want to prop pillows against the headboard for comfort, and the frame and headboard are too thin to rest anything on. But for the price, it’s much more functional than the ubiquitous Malm beds.

Another side note: IKEA does offer a bed with clunky angled headboard cushions but at $900 for a Queen, you’re better off with the Jane or any other bed, because that is a lot of money for a bed you’d have to put together with an allen wrench and tiny flat IKEA tools.

OR IF YOU’RE DIY-INCLINED…

I see a lot of DIY headboard projects, which are aesthetically great, but not suitable for reading or working on, because they’re all flat, parallel to the wall. Of course, you could get ambitious and build a headboard frame at an angle, but I love the idea of a thick cushion-headboard. I first saw this idea at the Ace Hotel in Portland, OR:

NOZNOZNOZ - Best beds to read and work in Ace HotelThe only challenge with incorporating this idea would be that regular bed frames don’t come long enough to sandwich your cushion-headboard behind your mattress, so you’d most likely end up sacrificing some bed length for the cushion (the Ace Hotel custom-built their bed frames long enough for this design).

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. If you’ve got other bed frame suggestions that you love reading or working in, share them in the comments!