Complete design

So many people ask me how to achieve a truly designer look for their home, since when they attempt it on their own, the result looks like a furniture showroom. Yes, everything “goes” together. Yes, the colors “work”. No, nothing “sticks out”. But, at the same time, nothing feels special, surprising, carefree or honest.

One of the difficult things for a non-design professional to do is to understand balance, assortment, personality, and restraint. It is difficult to pull off a casual, comfortable look, without looking like you are trying too hard. Letting your favorite color sing without every accent item being that color.

A truly welcoming interior should have multiple elements of surprise. Why not take your small entry, use a bold color, lots of art and one simple table welcome guests to your home, and announce that they are somewhere special?

Many of us love hanging lamps and chandeliers. Yet, how often does an enormous chandelier dominate a dining room and draw attention away from every other thing in the room?

Selecting art can be harrowing for anyone. Relax. Find some inexpensive pieces from emerging artist on the next art walk in your town. Get a couple posters you love framed. Advertising art that reminds you of a special time in your life is another good way to start. Remember, art can mean something if it means something to YOU.

Finding a color palette for your home that suits the moods and tempers of the people who live there and enjoy spending time with you can be a challenge. Every room does not necessarily need an “accent wall”. Sometimes the entire room should be green, or blue, or yellow. Other times a square of color on the ceiling, or near the ceiling can do the trick. Don’t fall into the trap of matching your accessories and pillows to this color by default. Find another color that enhances that accent even more.

Mix up your styles and textures, periods and finishes to add layers to your home—making it feel thoughtful, un-rushed and special. If everything matches, nothing will seem special. A little unexpected goes a long way. A classical chair and a modern sofa may share nothing more that a curved leg or a fabric choice, but will sing when paired together in a living room.

Throw together a velvet sofa, a polished chrome table, mix in some mirrored accessories to keep the eyes dancing, and maybe a Plexiglas piece here or there and once you layer with great accessories—VOILA—an effortless, layered, fanciful home.

Now, Greg, you say, I don’t have the time/talent/money/experience/confidence to accomplish this!!

Well, in that case, a design professional can come to your rescue. Before you get frightened, hear me out! A good Interior Designer or Interior Decorator CAN SAVE YOU MONEY. Yes, it’s true! Discuss with them before you start what your goals are and what items/elements are missing from your home.

Did you know most designers receive significant discounts on all their purchases. Many designers will work with you for a small design fee, and then split the discounts with you, SAVING you money, while they are making money. This way it is a win-win situation. You can also pay them a larger fee and they will pass along all their discounts, or pay them by the hour if you are a big researcher into what you are looking for.

Now if this is all too confusing, there are also full service design companies (like my own—but there are many to choose from) who will work with you for a flat rate guaranteed by contract, where you will let the designer choose every element, from rugs and paint, to furniture, lamps, chandeliers, accessories and art. This way each element of the home is covered from tip to top, bedding, linens, dishes and clocks. In my experience this can be the most cost-saving way for the client, since all the choices are made by the expert and the savings are passed along to you—NO COST OVERRUNS.

Which ever way you decide to go, your friendly advice-giver will point you in the right direction. Please email me your questions directly and see the answers in print.

Editors Note: Greg Wolfson's TV and Film credits include "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and can be viewed at (the internet movie database). For more information on Greg Wolfson Interiors,

Feel free to send me any and all your design questions and dilemmas to: