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!

MATERIAL MOMENT: Bógólanfini – African Mud Cloth

In the last several months, African mud cloth has been having a MOMENT in upholstery and decor, and I’ve fully fallen in love with its rich textural and graphical nature. Mud cloth, or Bógólanfini (translates pretty literally into mud w/ cloth), originates in Western Africa, specifically the country of Mali, but I’ve also seen some imported from Burkina Faso – and has been a traditional textile of the Bamana (also known as Bambara) people for centuries.

Mud cloth of all patterns and colors in this photo from African Interiors, published by Taschen.

Mud cloth of all patterns and colors in this photo from African Interiors, published by Taschen.

HOW MUD CLOTH IS MADE:

One of the distinctive features of mud cloth is that it’s not one giant continuous piece of material; rather, it is made by hand-weaving strips of cotton (woven by Bamana men), then sewing those pieces together. Then, the cloth is dyed by hand by Bamana women (which is really awesome teamwork, btw).

First, the cloth is soaked in water infused with cengura tree leaves, which is basically a primer to help the darker colors adhere. Then the cloth is dyed with fermented mud, clay, other leaves (for the black / darker colors), and caustic soda (for the white patterns in the mud cloth). Specifically, the iron-rich mud is painted on first, and then the caustic soda bleaches the designs from the primer’s yellow tones to white. Impressively, the whole process of making an authentic mud cloth takes 2-3 weeks!

The designs are all different – they often stylized depictions of plants and animals, and are arranged to honor specific events or purposes, like a girl entering womanhood, or to camouflage hunters and signify their status.

MUD CLOTH IN INTERIOR DESIGN:

What I love about mud cloth is how versatile it is, and how much of a presence it carries in a space. It works in a variety of applications from pillows to throws to upholstery.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth best chair ever

This is one of my absolute favorite “inspiration” chairs to ever come from Google Image Search. The mud cloth on this Louis XV-style gilded chair provides such a cool juxtaposition of European 18th-century and African tribal styles.

I especially appreciate upholstery applications where mud cloth is used on the backside of chairs as well. A couple projects I’ve seen feature mud cloth on the back, but a solid black/charcoal upholstery material on the seat + front of the chair.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth chair home office

Something else I love about mud cloth upholstery is, since the patterns differ across mud cloths and even vary within a single piece, you can arrange the mud cloth sections to create a unique look based on which patterns you are most inspired by.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth in a home

This mud cloth-upholstered chair really grounds this room by providing a contrasting style.

No budget for upholstery right now? No problem. This space just coolly draped a piece of mud cloth over a vintage rattan chair, adding visual interest to this global-styles reading corner.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth draped

… or, drape it over the edge of your bed.

NOZNOZNOZ - Mud cloth on a bed

If you are looking for just a touch of mud cloth for your home, I’ve noticed a pretty steady increase of options on sites like One King’s Lane over the last few months. Also, a really rad store in San Francisco that carries lots of responsibly globally-sourced decor is St. Frank!

I’m working on a little mud cloth project for my baby bean Vivienne (crazy dog mom, yes I am), so I’ll update in a future post when it’s done!

HOTEL INSPIRATION: Tribal Hotel in Granada, Nicaragua

As a residential designer, I don’t usually get inspired by hotels – their lobbies and rooms and the demands of their furnishings are a different beast from the spaces I work on. But just last week, I got to spend a night at the Tribal Hotel in Granada, Nicaragua, which is so impeccably designed that it made me want to (literally) move in and stay forever.

I first heard about Tribal Hotel in a roundup of highlights in Nicaragua; after this boutique hotel was featured on the cover of Conde Nastinterest from tourists has exploded (while there, visitors would just stop by to ask to peep the space) – so we were super lucky to get to stay in one of Tribal’s indoor-outdoor suites.

Actually, visiting Tribal Hotel was a bit of an honor: the owners, who designed and curated every part of the hotel themselves from the building to every chair and pillow, are NYC hospitality superstars Jean-Marc Houmard + Yvan Cussigh. I met Yvan when we checked in, and he told me that to achieve the style they envisioned, some of the pieces could be sourced locally in Nicaragua, but other textiles / materials were brought in from NYC and around the world.

THE LOBBY:

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Lobby

Can we talk about these FLOORS? The perfectly global-tribal-geometric floor tiles are laid w/ a thin border of contrasting tiles to create the effect of two “area rugs” in the lobby as you walk in.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Front desk

Despite having ogled so many photos online, seeing the check-in desk in person felt surreal – like I was walking into this super chic open-air Alice in Wonderland space.

Seriously though – these FLOORS!

Seriously though – these FLOORS!

Another interesting detail about Nicaraguan cities is that every building is responsible for maintaining its sidewalk. When you walk down a block, the tiles change in style and condition constantly. Outside tribal Hotel, the black/white tile continues, but they've been laid in different patterns per stair, which are different from their treatment inside, which is such a thoughtful detail.

An interesting detail about Nicaraguan cities is that every building is responsible for maintaining its own sidewalk. When you walk down a block, the tiles change in style and condition constantly. Outside Tribal Hotel, the black/white tile continues, but they’ve been laid in a different pattern from inside, which is such a thoughtful detail. OMG ARE YOU INSPIRED YET?!

THE COURTYARD AND POOL:

One of my favorite things about Granada was its colonial architecture. Most of the blocks around the gridded town appear to be long uninterrupted buildings (the changing colors indicate different owners) with basically no windows. The sunlight + fresh air come from the internal courtyards.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Cabanas At Tribal Hotel, the courtyard was a blending of midcentury modern, African, and Central American details, set among super lush greenery. You can lounge in one of the cabanas or lounge chairs around the adorable mod-tiled pool, or at one of the 3 conversational pods with built-in benches.

I think I was most excited about *moving into* one of these conversation areas. In the evening, the hotel staff lights all the candles and pendants in the space, and it is baaaasically a dream.

I think I was most excited about *moving into* one of these conversation areas. In the evening, the hotel staff lights all the candles and pendants in the space, and it is baaaasically a dream.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Courtyard closeup

Detail shot of the art, upholstery, + decorative objects in each of the conversational spaces. Of the 3 spaces, this one is meant for larger groups and has a dining-height table.

NOZNOZNOZ - Tribal Hotel Granada Nicaragua - Courtyard 1

One of my favorite photos of our trip so far!

OUR UPSTAIRS SUITE:

Of Tribal Hotel’s 5 guest rooms, we stayed in one of the upstairs “junior” suites, overlooking the courtyard. While the bathroom, closet, and bedroom are inside with A/C and high ceilings, the living/lounge space is open-air with white linen drapes for privacy.

Besides lounging in the living area of the suite, you can also have your breakfast served here!

Besides lounging in the living area of the suite, you can also have your breakfast served here!

Mostly n00b-posing, but also I'm in the shot to provide scale as to how large the space + how high the ceilings!

Mostly n00b-posing, but also I’m in the shot to provide scale as to how large the space is. Also, throughout the hotel’s spaces are live-edge and beautifully carved wood furnishings and art. This flame-like piece was one of my favorites. 

The bed + nightstands are built-ins like the courtyard bench seating. I'm so obsessed at how relaxed and easy the black/white theme felt in the room – like the all-white built-ins against a black cement floor.  Also can we talk about how thoughtfully curated + arranged the artwork is?! Not pictured is another floor-lamp-like art piece in the corner.

The bed + nightstands are built-ins. I’m so obsessed at how relaxed and effortless the black/white theme felt in the room – like the all-white built-ins against a black cement floor. Also can we talk about how thoughtfully curated + arranged the artwork is?! Not pictured is another floor-lamp-like art piece in the corner.

If you have the chance to travel to Granada, Nicaragua, absolutely 1,000% stay at Tribal Hotel. It’s right in the heart of of the city only a couple minutes’ walk to the central park, and yet, once you walk in, you’ll be transported. Wish we could have stayed much longer than a day and a night here (or, like I said, moved in!) – but next time. ¡Hasta luego!

Project Reveal: Black + White Kitchen + Dining Corner

When my friends and former colleagues (from when I was a toilet cleaner brand marketer (like actually – my face was in the news about it)) asked me to design and manage the renovation of their kitchen and dining area, it was a dream opportunity. It’s always such an honor to get to design spaces for my friends, but Abby and Kurt are the chicest, most stylish couple ever, so I knew this project would be an epic collaboration.

Their house in the classic SF neighborhood of Nob Hill is adorable and petite at 14 feet wide. And while Abby and Kurt have applied their style to the upstairs living spaces, the kitchen and dining space downstairs remained as it looked when they moved in years ago: dark, busy, bullnose counters, red cherry wood cabinets, limited space for relaxed seating, and not a lot of direct sunlight. It was time for an update.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen BEFORE

The design brief was basically, “Our style is Dorothy-Draper-meets-Tom-Ford – Hollywood Regency. Bold. Drama. SHINE. Also please take the weird stained glass panels off the kitchen window.” Here’s how it turned out:

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen 2

For my very first complete-scope kitchen renovation, I’m super proud of our finished product. And we haven’t even talked about the dining corner yet (I’ll get to it in a bit)!

Because the kitchen was in good working order and occupies such a small footprint, we were able to splurge on really luxurious finishes like solid-slab Calacatta marble counters and a marble tile backsplash in a herringbone pattern. We also went with fab polished brass hardware – bamboo-esque drawer pulls à la Hollywood Regency, and large “Minnie Mouse” round knobs.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Details

Also please notice Abby + Kurt’s ADORABLE Wisconsin-state cutting board, which Kurt immediately noted I had positioned upside-down in this shot!

AND, since the cabinets were only several years old and quality-built of solid wood, we opted to spare the expense (and the waste!) of refacing the cabinets (refacing = replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones). Instead, we refinished them in a high-gloss white for the upper cabinets and a high-gloss black for the lower cabinets. I love that the black cabinets are so shiny that you can often see reflections of the hardware in them.

Another way we maximized the budget was with the counters: Abby really loves Calacatta marble, and in kitchens, it’s stunning; but also it’s expensive at $90-130+ per square foot. We needed much less than a slab (you have to buy whole slabs, which are 40–50 square feet each) for their counters, so I found one with big grey sections (“flaws”) at a FRACTION the cost, and then we just cut around the grey to use only the most beautiful parts! NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Calacatta Vagli slab

Now for the dining area: Abby and Kurt’s one specific must-have was to create a custom L-shaped bench seat in the dining corner so that they could lounge in the space in addition to eat. Other than that, the goal was to bring to life their vision and style in the space.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Breakfast 3

Super fab brass light fixture by triple7recycled | custom L-shaped bench by Joybird | Kartell Ghost chairs

First off, I just absolutely love the black + white stripes. They start from the mirrored wall and continue all the way down the entry hallway to the front door – making the petite lil house feel much deeper. Abby’s Pinboard had several photos of homes with stripes, so when I presented the idea of the black + white walls with a black + white kitchen, it was like, “When can we start?”

As for the L-bench, I opted for a piece that looked more like furniture rather than a built-in, to keep the dining corner feeling light. The Kelly Green upholstery is amazing because Kurt has the coolest suede loafers in the same color. I mean honestly, if you saw these two in this space, you wouldn’t know where their personal fashion sense ended and their interior design sensibilities began.

We also replaced their larger rectangular dining table with an oval tulip to allow easier entry/exit to/from the bench, and went with Ghost chairs for the additional seating because they disappear visually, which helps the kitchen-dining area feel spacious.

NOZNOZNOZ - Nob Hill Kitchen - Kitchen Full onAnd there you have it – a lot of design in a little space, for a fabulous couple with a ton of style. Hope you enjoy! You can see more photos of this project on my design website, all of which were taken by the amazing Colin Price Photography.