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Video: Top interior designers share their secrets

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    >>> this morning on "today's home," the secrets of top designers, creating a beautiful interior is all about getting inspired. and the new book "be your own decorator" is full of ideas that can get you started. "today" contributor susanna stock is the author. she's got great ideas. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> you're taking inspiration from everybody else that you've admired.

    >> that i've loved from my favorite rooms from the top designers empowering you. people get scared. use these images. take take-aways no matter the budget or space, you can do it.

    >> you can find great pieces. let's look at the first room inspired by bunny williams.

    >> she's incredible. we're going to show images from the book and then take-away products for that spirit. use that great blue on the walls. no matter your space or size. i love how she pairs whimsy with classical shapes.

    >> those big prints, the whimsy.

    >> back to bunny on the living room , here's? ideas we can do really quickly on our own. that medallion throw from one kings lane. the texture looks like someone got it in morocco. throw it over your sofa. even if that's the only thing you do. she used these big, bold botanicals. but what i love is go for graphic and color, but i love how they don't overwhelm.

    >> right.

    >> so take your cue in that. the great chair. i love this. it's got the "x" the way she has on her chairs, classical and also a little bit different. and then she put these great ginger jars in the fireplace. these are from sea wonder.

    >> that's a great idea.

    >> even if you did that, different, special.

    >> when you're not using the fireplace, the perfect way to dress that space up. okay, next is we've got a really great room that has a lot of cheerfulness. this is the kitchen. everybody likes the kitchen.

    >> it's always so great about doing homey and modern. look at this great chandelier. we would never think to do something this sophisticated in our kitchen. i love this coral and then the blue chairs . this is from mayfair. i love, again, kid color but having the combination with the modernness of the chandelier.

    >> you saw in that picture she had some benches.

    >> she actually put a picnic bench on one side and then she had a bright blue chair.

    >> cameos?

    >> modern silhouettes of the children. this is from andrea pettish. you can literally cut out the old-fashioned way. then she placed it on a bright blue background with the white frame. love how that's modern and traditional at the same time.

    >> and personal for your family.

    >> always be personal. exactly.

    >> okay. and then over here, speaking of personal, now, this is a way to combine tastes. in fact, in the room, the inspiration you're using, a husband and wife had very distinct tastes. one liked modern.

    >> she liked modern. he inherited a lot of antiques from his grandfather, how to work them both together. what darrell carter did which i love is he, again, an historical portrait. this is from art.com. it costs nothing. and yet it kind of gives a nice significance to a room.

    >> right.

    >> and then, again, we have a wonderful, quiet oriental carpet from one kings lane. these are all under $300. it's, again, pairing kind of the elegance of tradition.

    >> and reupholsteing some pieces. it works.

    >> it works. it looks so fabulous.

    >> a good way to add glamour to a bedroom.

    >> it has a south of france appeal because she combined a yellow with gold accents. i love this. i love this starburst mirror, kind of a glamorous focal point above the bed. these gorgeous just simple yellow gauze curtains from urban outfitters .

    >> elegant touches, the lamp and the quilt.

    >> it sounds scary just to do beige and yellow, but if you look at the picture, you see that it's only elegant. i love the sea gallery lamp. so personal and pretty.

    >> and lastly, you have a jonathan abner inspiration.

    >> he does such wows with his rooms.

    >> small room, orange and pink.

    >> go for it. use that image to give you confidence. look at this urban outfitters pink and orange, a wow, wow pattern.

    >> even though the space is small, make it have impact.

    >> go for it. i love the lamp. the orange kitschy lamp from mayfair. i found a white wicker elephant side table just like he had. have fun with it. susanna,

TODAY books
updated 4/18/2012 2:10:41 PM ET 2012-04-18T18:10:41

In ‘Be Your Own Decorator,' Susanna Salk shares a wide array of imaginative tips from professional designers to inspire you to you cultivate your own particular style. Here's an excerpt.


This is not a how-to design book, but a why not book. Why not finally create the kitchen that feeds both your appetite and soul? Why not finally fix that living room layout that hasn’t felt right since you moved in? It’s not about having enough time or money or the right phone numbers to call. It’s about understanding that taking stuff out of a room (even if it was a wedding gift!) is sometimes as important as what you put in it. That the eye delights in seeing multiples and gets bored when things look too matched. That character beats price in the beauty department hands down every time. That the biggest rule of all is that there really are no rules, except to be confident about your choices.

I’m not a designer. But people often compliment me on the unusual color of my walls or an arrangement along my fireplace mantel. The credit shouldn’t be paid to me, but rather to the dozens of designers who give me confidence, to the ones who put stylish rooms together that feel grounded yet never take themselves too seriously. If I do anything well, it’s that I’m not afraid to try their ideas and configure them into my own space. I think of them as indispensable style sherpas, helping me find my way and then leaving me to enjoy the view.

Designing our homes is one of the few creative ventures where we can—and should—draw ideas from the pros without fear we’ll be branded a plagiarist. A room that borrows its balance from design dean Billy Baldwin’s uncanny sense of proportion is original: the room’s owner has plucked and inserted borrowed ideas into her nest like an inspired magpie.

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Translation is never literal in interior design, but rather lyrical, with new notes being added to each incarnation, a gift that keeps giving ad infinitum, always ripe for reinterpretation. The soothing color of Martha Stewart’s hens’ eggs inspired her to build a whole paint collection around them (Mother Nature being the original creator). I, in turn, copied those very same shades Stewart featured in her magazine for my son’s bedroom. My painter liked the effect so much he lifted the same combination for his kitchen, but added a darker ceiling. And so on. Often I have used the images in these pages when verbal descriptions proved insufficient: when it came time to build a fireplace in our new house, I showed a picture of Washington, D.C. designer Darryl Carter’s kitchen fireplace to my mason and he immediately understood what I wanted when I said “modern traditionalism.” Whenever it’s time to choose a new color, I lean on the genius daring of Miles Redd for moral support. (If Miles can pair pink with red in his living room then I can paint my mudroom tangerine!) Even when I get dressed, the designers are cheering me on: one look at the work (and wardrobes) of Los Angeles-based uber designers Kelly Wearstler and Mary McDonald reminds me that glamorous accessories are as key to a room as they are to an outfit, so choose a lamp with the same witty reverence as a bangle.


And now it’s your turn. This book is about emboldening you so you can embolden your rooms. I want you to be inspired rather than intimidated by my most favorite rooms from some of the best designers and tastemakers around. While many of them already showcase their work in their own wonderful books, I wanted to gather a unique compilation under one roof and categorize them by what they do best: whether by breaking rules or being whimsical. Consider this book and my determination your own personal design guide. It doesn’t matter if you don’t live in a Hollywood bungalow or a Connecticut colonial. The idea here is that it’s about echoing a spirit rather than a swatch. When I breathlessly relayed the title of this book over the phone to American design master Albert Hadley, I feared he might find it disrespectful. There was a long pause after I finished, then he replied: “Well, I think that idea’s just marvelous!” (His inspiring house is on page 234.)

Hadley’s genuine enthusiasm for educating those not fortunate enough to hire his services was shared by every designer I spoke with. Unlike many artists in other mediums, interior designers never hoard their secrets. They are a gloriously generous bunch, much more concerned with making the world a more beautiful and livable place than worrying about whose idea it was to put that vase over there. So be inspired not only by their work, but also the spirit in which it was conceived. Stop worrying that you won’t get it right and realize that perfect rooms are boring. Rooms that resonate with personality—not rules—are the ones you’ll want to linger in and savor. I hope Be Your Own Decorator will help you decorate your home with your own personality. Whenever you do this, you can’t go wrong. Because in the timeless words of innovative designer Dorothy Draper: “I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.”

Excerpted from Be Your Own Decorator by Susanna Salk. Copyright © 2011 by Susanna Salk. Excerpted by permission of Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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