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.

Project Reveal: Creating a Living Room Ideal for Hosting

The second room I designed for my amazing clients Boe + Sophie Hayward (whose ping pong dining room I also designed), was their formal living room. The family upsized when moving into this house, so they found that they didn’t quite have furniture or plans for the formal front living room.

On top of that, the rest of the home is an open-concept layout, with the dining room, sitting room, kitchen, and family/TV room all connected – whereas the formal living room is separated on the other side of the entry/foyer on the front of the house. As a consequence, when I first saw the home, the living room was being used as an impromptu storage area, with hand-me-down furniture from their parents, boxes, and kids’ toys left in there.

While the fireplace + mantle were perfect places for holiday decor, the rest of the formal living room was not quite working for the family.

I started working with the Haywards during the holidays of 2014, which is why there are so many stockings + nutcrackers (their nutcracker collection is ON POINT!).

Boe + Sophie, who often entertain at their home, envisioned the formal living room being a chic “showcase” space in the house where grown-up guests could enjoy a cocktail when they arrived. Without further ado, the reveal:

Photo by Colin Price

Photography by Colin Price!

Since the family has three kids under age 5, I also wanted to make sure that even though the space is meant for grown-up guests, the furnishings would be safe for kids to romp around as well.

WHAT WAS ALREADY IN THE SPACE: The wall paint, which the stagers or previous owners had painted before the Haywards moved in, was fabulous – so I recommended we keep the paint as it was (in the “Before” photo, the color looks totally different). The blue sofa had just been reupholstered less than a year before, so we opted to keep it as-is also.

WHAT I ADDED + UPDATED: First I wanted to add some life to the floor covering situation in the formal living room. I chose one of my favorite rugs, the Surya Smithsonian Archive Rug in Brown, to bring together the olive-brown walls and deep brown floors. This selection meant that the primary colors in the room were brown, blue (sofa), and white – so whatever color the coffee table / occasional seats would be had to enhance this color palette.

After doing a ton of hunting for standard coffee tables, I landed on the idea of a giant tufted ottoman-coffee-table – and my clients loved the concept! The ready-to-order options I’d found were either not the right dimensions or the right colors, so I went custom and found a beautiful ochre/mustard fabric from Robert Allen, and worked with my amazing upholstery partners-in-crime to fabricate the piece. I LOVE how the colors + textures came together in the room. Plus, Boe + Sophie told me that their kids love running in and crashing onto the ottoman, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with the piece’s versatility.

Not pictured is the fabulous Room & Board sideboard that we got. It serves as the house bar – and the serving tray on the ottoman is a nod to the cocktails that will be served to grown-up guests in this space!

Not pictured is the fabulous Room & Board sideboard that we got. It serves as the house bar – and the serving tray on the ottoman is a nod to the cocktails that will be served to grown-up guests in this space!

The wooden stools with blue felt cushions are from Blu Dot – they’re fabulously casual + modern, and are easy to move around for versatile seating. Most of the time they stay in the family room on the other side of the house.

The final touches were the gold urchin ceiling light fixture and my *tszujing* of the books in the bookcases (side note, I learned how to spell that word by literally googling “how do you spell juj”). I purchased some bookends and decorative objects to complement Sophie’s collection of novels, and then color-blocked the books to give them a sense of organization and visual order. My personal favorite decorative objects are the Golden Gate Bridge bookends (which I used to hold the red books, and which are meant to look like a long *bridge* that extends through the fireplace) and the brass bear (the youngest of the Hayward children’s nickname is Bear). Here are the two bookcases together:

Sorry, Dewey Decimal System, but you have no home in this house.

Sorry, Dewey Decimal System, but you have no home in this house.

This living room was also featured recently in an article on Houzz about living rooms with fireplaces! If you’d like to read more about how I designed the room to highlight the fireplace, check it out here!

Project Reveal: Dining Room Fit for a Feast with a Side of Ping Pong

Recently I finished working on the home of my amazing clients Boe + Sophie Hayward. They are just the coolest people, and also parents to 3 kids under the age of five and a dog-baby, who make raising a family look like a total breeze.

When I met them, they’d purchased their current home just over a year earlier, and had run out of steam after decorating most spaces (they upsized from a smaller home), and what was left over were the formal living room and formal dining room. In this post I’ll show the Before & After for the dining room:

NOZNOZNOZ - Avenues Family Home - Dining BEFORE

I also happened to visit during the holidays, so all my “Before” photos show the family’s ridiculously extensive collection of Nutcrackers. The table, while beautiful, didn’t fit with their style goals for this room, and was too small. The giant china hutch is a hand-me-down from one of their parents’ homes, and the super-cool Graham’s beverage cooler ended up in the formal living room.

… and AFTER: Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 1

What inspired me about Boe + Sophie’s vision for the room was how versatile they wanted their hosting spaces to be. As super-versatile people, they wanted their formal dining room to be stylish but comfortable – to be a space that guests loved to be in… and linger in.

Our process started with finding the right dining table. Boe’s ideal situation was for us to put a regulation-sized ping pong dining table in the space. For the record, that is a massive table for a San Francisco home: 5′ x 9′!!!! But the room was large enough, so I said, let’s go for it! After reviewing a number of options (surprisingly there are a number of ping pong dining tables in all different styles), we selected the Winston table from Venture Shuffleboard – made in the US of solid Walnut with Maple insets. And let me just say, this table is STUNNING and beautifully crafted.

Noz Design - Avenues Family House - Dining Room 2

As the house’s floor plan is very open, we opted to keep the walls in the dining room the same color as the adjacent sitting room + kitchen. That meant we could go with a bold color for the rug. Since Boe and Sophie’s three kids are all very young, I recommended a nice-looking but affordable rug (literally less than $400 and it’s 100% wool!) that they wouldn’t be afraid of having ruined. A big bonus for me was that Sophie loves this rug’s design!

Next was chairs: I found a beautiful set of 8 vintage walnut + wool chairs from my pals at Midcentury Møbler in San Francisco, and then for the head-of-table chairs, I juxtaposed the midcentury modern vibe with Scandinavian modern chairs designed by Hem. I love these leather scoop chairs, and I love that they kind of feel like baseball gloves (Boe is a major SF Giants fan). The woods on these chairs work with both woods in the dining table.

Side note: I'm pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward height + depth, but I think we made it work.

Side note: I’m pretty happy with my decorating job on the decorative shelves to the right. They are a really awkward, unaccommodating height + depth, but I think we made it work. The ping pong gear goes in the little bucket on the 4th shelf.

Finally, lighting: the “before” chandelier was not working with the space – too small, too chrome, and hung too high. In keeping with the midcentury modern vibe, we went with a large Sputnik pendant in black metal, and then hung it just low enough that it feels like a part of the space, but just high enough that it doesn’t interfere with fierce table tennis matches (at least so far).

Boe and Sophie also asked about what to put on the wall. With the china hutch moved out, the room felt much bigger, but the wall felt empty. My idea was mirrors, because the formal dining room happens to get the least natural light vs. the other rooms on the ground floor, and the mirrors would bounce back light during the day and in evenings when the Sputnik light is on. Rather than go with one large mirror, we went with three in leather frames that nod to the leather chairs. Their scale is just enough to add visual interest to the wall without competing with the table and the delicious food to be served on it.

I was SO delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that the mirrors look like ping pong paddles!

Also, I was delighted that a couple friends (including Hedge, my now-fiancé ^_^) noticed that I selected mirror frames that echo the shape of ping pong paddles!

And that’s it! What do you think of the idea of a multi-use dining table? I personally use mine as a makeshift “work table” when my desk is too small.

Next up: the project reveal for this same family’s formal living room!

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!

DIY: Halloween! SF Giants! GOURDS.

In honor of today, which is both Halloween and the day my city of San Francisco shut half the streets down for the World Series parade (Go Giants!!), I finally gave into Decorative Gourd Season and decorated some mother fucking gourds!!!!NOZNOZNOZ - Halloween SF Giants Cover

Since it’s the last day of October, I avoided having more than 1 overtly “spooky / Halloweeny” gourd (the butternut squash) and went with a black/white/gold theme that will be fall-holiday (that totally portmanteaus into “falliday, btw) relevant for as long as these gourds keep – hopefully until it’s Christmas Tree time.

Total time spent: 45 minutes including driving to the grocery store (would have taken less but I screwed up the gold SF pumpkin the first time)

Total cost: about $6 for 2 little pumpkins, 1 butternut squash, and 1 wonky ass swan-gourd – I already had the nails and paint.

GOURD 1: Literally found this wonky bumpy twisty swan-neck-looking gourd in the “Decorative Gourds” basket. Pretty sure this isn’t meant to be eaten, but the bumps and porousness of the gourd skin make spray painting this one REALLY easy and efficient.

Spray painting pro tip: set the gourd down exactly as you want it on display and then spray paint from all angles without moving the gourd. This way the bottom doesn’t get painty and end up sticking to your table/mantle/wherever you display it. (More spray paint tips here)

NOZNOZNOZ - Halloween SF Giants 1

GOURD 2: Inspired by brass tack pumpkin DIYs, I went for a slightly more Edward Scissorhands/bondage-y butternut squash look. Also I decided to do this gourd DIY rather spontaneously and wanted to see what I could do just with the stuff I have at home – thusly, nails.

Pro tip: if you’re ever spray painting something that you’re going to then stab with nails/tacks/etc, spray paint the object FIRST, then add the nails, then spray paint again. NOZNOZNOZ - Halloween SF Giants 2

GOURDS 3 + 4: My beloved SF Giants pumpkins!! This year was the first year I 1. understood baseball strategy, 2. watched a decent amount of baseball, and 3. decided I like Pablo Sandoval, aka: The Panda. And so, these cutie pumpkins. The process on both of these was the same: spray paint, let dry, then use black acrylic paint to do the design. I’m especially proud of my kawaii Japanese Panda anime face.

Side note: the gold pumpkin was originally meant to be black with gold lettering. I made a stencil out of paper to spray paint a gold “SF” and realized that stenciling irregular round things doesn’t work. Also I definitely missed the bottom of the Panda pumpkin.

NOZNOZNOZ - Halloween SF Giants 3

ENJOY!!!!!!! There will definitely be more spray paint / DIY holiday posts as the winter season approaches, so let me know if you want to see anything done or if you’ve done a super sick gourd DIY this month!

IKEA Hack in Progress: Billy Bookcase Library

A little embarrassed that I haven’t posted in months, but I’ll have a cutie update about my new business soon!! In the mean time, I am also going to start primarily posting about my interiors / decorating / client projects / DIY / art finds. SUCH AS…

At the beginning of March, my boyfriend Hedge and I moved in together (since I owned my place, it made the most sense for Hedge to move in with me). Luckily, Hedge didn’t come with much stuff, but he did have one request for our shared space: to add bookshelves for his growing book collection (all my books could fit on 1 little CB2 shelf unit). Eager to oblige and make this place more of “Our Home”, I took to the interwebs for built-in ideas that would work with my new-entrepreneur budget. Inspired by a bunch of IKEA Billy Bookcase Hacks that DIY bloggers have posted, I convinced Hedge that the bedroom library should be our first-ever DIY project together:

  • STATUS: 75% completed
  • COST (so far): $220 for the 4 Billy bookcases on Craigslist, ~$40 for wood, hardware, and a miter box + saw from Home Depot
  • TIME (so far): 4-5 hours
  • HOW: (I’ll share a process/step-by-step on how we did our shelves in another post)

BEFORE: My Our master bedroom has always been the last room I think about designing, so it was high time to reconsider the layout. I’d had the bed pushed to 1 wall, with a big gaping space in front of it with just a chair. Previously there was a big Baughman sofa occupying the gape.

Before bookshelves - gape

AFTER: We upgraded to a King bed, and I decided to float the bed in the middle of the room, anchoring it with the chest of drawers that was previously on the opposite side of the gape. This layout opened up the bedroom, made the sleeping area feel more private, and also created a little “library” between the bookshelves and the drawer chest:

Billy Bookcase - View from entranceBilly Bookcase - Progress Billy Bookcase - Progress w Viv from bed DSC_0034 (Viv regularly gets all up in my interiors shots)

NEXT UP: I love that we have bookshelves in the master bedroom – it feels really rewarding that Hedge and I DIY’d the “library” together and that this room now feels the most reflective of both our tastes. BUT a few more tasks remain: those little baseboards running along the bookcases are just standing on end; I’d like to add molding to conceal where the bookcases join; I might want to add shelves up to the ceiling; and also I have a lot more *tjuzing* to do to the books/decor. A runner is also on its way to make the little library aisle feel warmer (it’s still in the bedroom, after all).

But for now, there you have it! What do you think?