How-To’s and Tips

How to Mix Gold and Silver in Interiors

Lets hear it for that clubber still trapped in 1984.  For him the mullet never dies and Z Cavaricci’s can’t have enough pleats and acid wash.  And the 1990’s gym rat still carrying his protein powder in a fanny pack and so pumped up he looks like a balloon animal.  You have to somewhat respect a guy for diving into the Culture Club head first and committing for the long run.   But none of us is swiping right on that one.   And what does that have to do with learning how to mix gold and silver in interiors?

Trends are awesome but when you get too “fadtastic” you get mired in a time warp soup – even in your home. Unless you have the money to invest big dollars into changing up your interior design every couple of years, you’ll need to learn to balance the fad and the timeless.  In 2007 I was remodeling my own bath and I searched like crazy to find something other than brushed nickel and chrome.   We’d been using it in the design industry for years and I was burnt out.  so I wrote a blog post about the process and the upward trend toward gold-toned finishes that was just around the corner.   They were hard to find back then but they gradually started showing up at the furniture markets and gift shows in lamps, accessories and faucets.

Fast forward to 2016 and suddenly Z Gallerie has limited their silver finishes and introduced a barrage of golds.  Same with West Elm, CB2, Crate and Barrel.   The trends always trickle down from the interior designers and furniture manufacturers to the masses but it takes time.  And then it becomes the new Chic for everyone and it gets overdone and it becomes a trend that will date your home in just a few short years.

So I have just a few  suggestions for enjoying the new gold without binge decorating.  First, introduce them in smaller ticket items such as pillows, accessories or even lamps.  If in 3 years you’ve grown to hate gold, then you’re not breaking the bank to replace them.  And for goodness sake, store anything that’s still in great shape because gold tones will come back over and over and one day you’ll be kicking yourself for tossing out that gorgeous papier mache tray with gold leaf accents.  And finally, don’t be that guy who commits 100% for the long term.   Why do you think gold finishes went out of style in the first place?   Because we over did it and we got sick of it.  Then when the brushed nickel train came chuggin by we jumped on…….and again we were in it heart and soul.

So learn how to mix gold and silver in interiors by doing it delicately.  In fact, don’t write off black metals either.   Silver, gold and black  are not mutually exclusive.  In their contrast they actually compliment each other, adding layers of depth to an interior space.  If you’re a little hesitant about your ability to do so tastefully, I find the easiest way to set the stage is to start with one piece that has all of the patinas you’d like to use.   Take a look at the chandelier below (#1) or table (#2).   Both pieces contain silver, black and gold finishes.   This is your jumping off point.  It’s now easy to choose your favorite finish as the dominant patina and then break up the monotony by introducing hints of your contrasting lusters in a mirror, a lamp, or a pair of accessories.

Contact Jamie Kern at for pricing and lead times on products below.


how to mix gold and silver in interiors by Design Theory Interiors of California, INc

  1. Chandelier by CB2
  2. Table by Caracole
  3. Dining Chair from Worlds Away
  4. Surya pillows
  5. Accessories by West Elm
  6. Mirror by Robert James Collection
  7. Cyan Design accessories
  8. Floor Lamp by CB2
  9. Bernhardt Chair
  10. Buffet by Robert James Collection
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Interior Designer Do’s and Don’ts

Interior Designer Dos and Donts

DON’T double dip your fabrics.   By double dipping I mean don’t use the same fabric twice.  If you’ve already used that        cool geometric for your master window treatments, don’t repeat it as a throw pillow or a bedskirt.  Is it going to look horrible if   you do that?  No, of course not.   But it’s those tiny details that set the designer and the decorator apart.

DO use coordinating fabrics.   Instead of re-using that cool geometric in your window treatments, find fabrics that compliment and coordinate for pillows, bedskirts, etc. A large geometric can pair with a solid, a smaller scale print, or a great textured fabric. Those layers of fabrics add depth to a space and they show just how much thought you put into the fine point

DON’T be afraid to mix gold and silver.  Isolating one specific metal finish went out the window with banning white after labor day.  I like the depth      and the visual interest that occurs when you can blend the two metallics.

DON’T short yourself on accessories.  I can’t say this enough.  The biggest mistake I see clients make is cutting the accessory budget short.  A room full of wonderful furniture will look bare-boned, incomplete and mucho unfriendly.  Interior design is in the details.

DO trust your interior designer to accessorize.  The other big mistake I see clients make is in thinking they can save money by accessorizing on their own.  In the end, the accessories are often too small and too few and have no connection to the design intent of the space.  Yes accessorizing can be expensive.  But not as expensive as trying to do it yourself only to have to pay someone to re-do it for you later.   I’m a fan of spending my money once and getting it right the first time.

DON”T over analyze individual accessory items.  While I’m on a roll with accessories, let me also point out that you will only make yourself crazy if you over analyze each individual accessory item.   A designer spends a considerable amount of time assessing the overall space and how each accessory, it’s placement, size, finish, and shape will enhance the design.  In one instance I placed a lovely silver metal vase with a textured finish in an area of a client’s home where it would receive light from a directional fixture.  The light would enhance the texture, creating something visually quite interesting.  In the end the client was insistent that the texture just wasn’t “them” and I had to replace the vase with something similar in a smooth finish.  The end result was not only lackluster, but the smooth finish shows every fingerprint.  Sometimes it’s nice to introduce something outside your comfort zone to add some interest and conversation.

DO embrace the animal in you.  A taste of an animal print, a pair of shed or faux antlers, an oversized ceramic dog, or better yet, a modern chair or table with an animal leg.   Even if you’re working in a highly contemporary space, the introduction of the animal form will add intrigue.   Let’s not over do it.   A hint or even a subtle theme is nice but please don’t cover all of your upholstery in leopard print AND every table surface with a ceramic pig.

DO think organic.  Introducing something of nature is like warm cocoa on a cold rainy day.   I love using a modern side table with a petrified wood top or a tree trunk table in almost any style interior.

DO visit the dark side.   Black is a must in every space to create depth and perspective.  And it can be  achieved with something as simple as a throw pillow, black frames on artwork, or ebony legs on your dining chairs.

DO use oversized accessories.   Large accessories in focal areas will have a much greater impact than a collection of small items.   For instance,  a 42″ diameter mirror above and a 40″ sculpture or vase atop a buffet or sideboard on a blank wall will attract attention and will appear clean and elegant.   The same buffet covered with small items can look messy, disproportionate or even get lost if not done extremely well.




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One Fabric, Three Looks

The title of this post is pretty straight forward.  One Fabric, three looks means I’m basically going to share with you a secret to the way a designer sees fabric and how you can use the same fabric in different style formats.  This is a powerful and somewhat dangerous tool so let’s be perfectly clear on a couple of crucial points.

First, not ALL fabrics can be used in multiple applications.   This, for instance is not appropriate for your living room.  Honestly, it really isn’t appropriate for a child’s room.  Kids hate clowns parents.  This fabric is where Carol Ayaann’s Poltergest lives.  You want that on your conscience?  TV all eatin your kid up?  

Second, not ALL fabrics should be used at all……anywhere……as evidenced below.   Let’s start top left moving clockwise.  If you haven’t seen “Weird Science”  and you don’t speak emoji, let me enlighten you.   The fabric on the left is a a series of turds resting on a pretty pink background while stars dance between them.  I don’t care how hard you try, you can’t dress up a turd.  Next we have…..what?  Cats maybe?  Playing fiddles and tambourines?   Gummy worms in any form are nasty.  And finally, the piece de resistance.  Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes.  Because throughout history the mushroom has been iconic in the fashion industry.

Image result for ugly fabrics          Image result for ugly fabrics                       


Let’s wash our eyeballs with lye soap and move on.

The first thing you have to keep in mind that your interior designer spends a lot of time researching new products and new trends so he or she is the best source for What’s In, What’s On It’s Way In, What’s Out, and What’s On It’s Way Out.   This is important because you don’t want to drop a lot of cash on redesigning your home only to find out that it’s a quickly fading fad, or a trend that is on it’s way out because it’s been done SO many times.   So in a lot of cases a designer may introduce a fabric or product that you “would never have picked” yourself because it has a wide range of applications and looks that you perhaps haven’t considered.

The fabric we’re using to illustrate is a chevron stripe with an Ikat-style print in some bright, playful colors.    But look closely at how it can be used quite successfully in these three interior styles.

In the first example, Tailored Elegance,  the gray background of the fabric is the basis.   It is paired with solid silk, a textured man’s suit fabric and a tasteful small geographic.   So the space seems understated and sophisticated while the chevron stripe becomes that hint of color, adding depth and interest.

One Fabric, Three Looks


Using the same fabric, Modern Magic plays up the geometrics and the green tones to create a mid-century modern design.

One Fabric, Three Looks 2



And if you love color,  have fun with it.  This fabric has some great shades of blue, yellow and green that can be pumped up for that Playful Glamour style that loves bright colors, sparkle and shine.

One Fabric, Three Looks 2

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10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required!

I’m a hot mess when it comes to staying organized.  I actually love the process of getting organized and I love the feeling of being organized but I can’t seem to stay that way for long, especially in my work environment.   I’m not the girl who folds sweaters around cardboard and gently places them in a stacking drawer and – oh HELL no! –  I won’t be caught DIY-ing toilet paper cores into pencil holders or cord organizers.  I don’t even replace the empty toilet paper ring.

So the fact that I’m writing about organization is laughable.   But I can’t be the only person who needs a full staff to keep her stuff where her stuff belongs.  So I have found a few things that really work for me.  These are storage options that are handy, easy to use and no maintenance.  So roll up your fancy tape with the butterflies on it,  put away your “I heart Scrapbooking” stickers and walk away from the craft table.  This is more like “Organization for Dummies.”

#1 –  The Vintage Bread Box – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

If you love retro and mid-century, these bread boxes are so much fun.  The vintage variety come in chrome and some yummy colors like aqua, butterup yellow and pale pink.  There are also some really funky painted patterns.  I always buy the ones that have the drop front so I can stock them and access them from the front.   When I need to be really organized, I buy a cheap file sorter,  like the one below from Staples, and put it inside and then I can organize mail or correspondence.  The vintage bread boxes can be found on ebay and etsy

10 great organizing products10 great organizing products-bread box

10 great organizing products - file sorter

#2 –  The Metal Wastebasket/Bin – 10  Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

Ikea carries this great little metal wastebasket bin in a couple of sizes,  and they usually have them in fun colors as well as silver black and white.  I use them for dog food,  hand towels, fabric samples and any kind of junk I don’t want out and visible.   I like to use them together in my office in various colors.  No folding, no sorting, no filing.  Open lid.  Dump stuff in.

10 great organizing products - watebasket bin

#3 –  The Mini Faux Taxidermy Deer Head – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

I love this little dude from White Faux Taxidermy.  It’s a mini dear head that I hang in pairs in my bathroom.  I have some really long necklaces that don’t fair well when I toss them in a jewelry box but this is really handy way to hang them.  I like that my necklaces are accessible and they don’t end up in a pile on my countertop.  Note to husbands: not designed for smelly post-workout hats.

10 great organizing products - mini deer head

#5 –  The Jar – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

Yeah, I know.  We’re all burnt out on the mason jar craze but we all have them around.   I tossed some pens in a jar one day and found that I like using them for my desk storage like paper clips, rubber bands, pens, binder clips, etc.   I like to be able to fill these jars to the top with stuff I need at my fingertips.   They hold way more than the little cheap things you find at office stores so I don’t have to refill them every couple of weeks.   And that means I don’t have to have an entire storage cabinet for backup supplies.

10 great organizing products - mason jar

#6 –  The Wall Pocket – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Require

These little wall pockets from The Container Store are kick-arse!    And they have some funny little kid versions if you’re into that sort of thing.   So they have 2 open rings at the top to hang.  I bought a couple of those cheap things that go over a door and I can hang them on the back of my door to hide my junk.   I keep supplies like file folders, paper products and magazines, and that crap you get in the mail that you just don’t know what to do with but you’re afraid to throw it out too soon.   I used it on the back of my bathroom door when we lived in an apartment in Toronto and I could hide junk like combs, brushes and soaps.

10 great organizing products - wall pockets                      organizing product croc wall pocket

#7 – The Evernote App – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

Put your techno hat on a minute for this one.   Check out the Evernote app.  It comes in 3 versions, Basic, Plus and Premium.    Basic is free so you can give it a whirl and learn a little about the basics to see if you want more options.  I love this thing for storing important documents and files that I can access almost anywhere and I don’t have to drag a paper file every where I go.   This means less paper blowing around my office every time I turn on the fan.    You can organize notes into notebooks, use tag words, and with the upgrades you can even annotate files.

10 great organizing products - evernote app

#8 – The Canister Set –  10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

I have absolutely no use for kitchen canisters as they are intended but they are an extension of my junk drawer.  My favorites are the retro variety in fun colors and patterns.   I also prefer the square variety versus the round ones because they fit together nice and neat on a countertop.   I stuff one of them with Clif Shot Bloks so I can grab and go on my way out the door, another is simply more of that junk that you think you may want one day but really you won’t, and the other has pens, note pads, extra house keys, and more junk that I think I may want one day but really I won’t.  I found that I’m more apt to go thru these little canisters and trash the junk I haven’t looked at since I put it in there than I am to go through a 15″ wide drawer that I can’t open.    These are from Wayfair.

10 great organizing products - kitchen canister set

#9 – The Wine Crate – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

Wine crates are good for everything.   My powder bath is a little on the rustic side with burlap drapery and a vintage mirror, so these wine crates are perfect for holding toilet tissue and hand towels.   I simply nailed screwed thru the bottom of the crate into the wall and I stacked two of them.  It freed up so much space in my cabinet and it makes the toilet tissue and towels highly accessible.   In another bathroom I don’t have the wall space but I had a little room on the floor so I filled it with toilet tissue, soaps and towels.   And they stack nicely as well!

10 great organizing products - wine crate


#10 – The Shoe Drawer – 10 Great Organizing Products – No DIY Required

These drawers from The Container Store saved the life of my shoes.  These things stack, shoes are visible through the clear drawers, and the drawer pulls out the front for a quick grab-and-go.   I no longer have to dust my shoes before wearing them and none of them look like a kitten anymore from all of the Papillon fur flying thru my house.  The official “shoe drawer”  is smaller and only about 4″ tall and works for a lot of my shoes.   But if you have really high heels or just don’t like to lay your shoes down, the sweater drawer is double width and is 8″ tall.

10 great organizing products - shoe drawer 10 great organizing products - sweater drawer

So there you have it!  Organization for people that don’t have time to be organized.   For further info or design assistance contact Jamie Kern with Design Theory Interiors of California, Inc directly at


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5 Interior Decorating Mistakes to Avoid!

Don’t hide your face in shame.  We’ve all done them.   Even as an interior designer I’ve crossed over to the dark side a time or two.  I make a rush to judgement, grabbing some horrendous lamp off a shelf, thinking I can get by on the cheap.   And every time it comes back to bite me in the arse.  That stupid lamp become an unwelcome relative who just won’t go home until I finally have to have it committed and removed from the house with force. I don’t typically make the mistake twice but by the time I finally find the perfect lamp, I’ve overshot my budget.   And I have to come up with a way to counter my husband’s “I told you so.”

Don’t let that be you!!   Here are 5 interior decorating mistakes to avoid at all costs!

1.  Walk away from store bought drapery panels

Look, this is a big one!  And I know they’re tempting.  They seem like a reasonable expense and they come in lots of fun colors, one of which is just perfect for your family room!   But they aren’t perfect for your family room and I’ll tell you why.   Never ever will you find a store bought drapery panel that is the right length, properly lined or an appropriate width.   So here’s what happens.  You buy 2 panels of drapery.  You go home and hang them up and it’s your lucky day because by some twist of fate they are the right length.  But then you notice that the cute fabric isn’t so cute anymore because the light from outside is blasting thru it like a prison flood lamp.  If that weren’t bad enough, as you fluff the drapes so they fold and drape like they should, that 54″ wide panel is now more like 18″ wide.   So you go buy more of them to make them look wider.  But now you have a messy opening between each panel and you’ll kick yourself until you can justify getting rid of them.

Look, custom window treatments aren’t cheap.   My advice is to save your money and, even if you need to do one room at a time, contact an interior designer to measure your windows, suggest the appropriate treatment, width, lining and header.  Most interior designers will also assist with fabric selection so you know your draperies will hang as they should.  You’ll have invested in quality window coverings that will last for years.

2.  Don’t skimp on accessories

This is one of the hardest things to get across to clients who are spending money on new furniture, rugs, and window treatments.  When it comes to that line item on the budget, they always want to cut it back, thinking they don’t need that many accessories, or worse…..they can get them at Home Goods.

Here’s what happens when you skimp on accessories.  Let’s say you hire the county’s finest wedding cake baker. You know her cakes are to-die-for-delish and gorgeous, but you learn that it’s a little more than you really wanted to pay.   You have to cut costs somewhere so you whip out your stellar bargaining skills.   By the time you’ve whittled away those pesky dollars you have a to-die-for-delish cake with no flowers or embellishment and the white icing doesn’t cover the entire cake.

Now, I’m not saying budget isn’t important.  It’s key to any decor project.  But consider other ways you can cut costs without losing the integrity of the space because the truth is in the details.   And if you pinch accessories, you’re losing the icing on your cake.

Don’t let this be you……..

5 interior decorating mistakes to avoid

3.  Make sure your area rugs are the right size

Rugs ground a space by connecting the furnishings and creating intimate conversation areas.   Nothing looks worse than a rug that is too small or too large.   Important to note:   All furniture legs do not have to be on the rug unless you’re working with a dining table.  A rug looks best when the front legs of the seating group are on the rug and the back legs are off.   Along that same vein of thinking, never buy a rug that is so small that none of the legs of the upholstered seating pieces are on it.   Every situation and furniture layout is different but be cognizant that your seating areas shouldn’t look like they’re sitting on a giant tarp and they shouldn’t look like they’re gathered around  beach towel.

5 interior decorating mistakes to avoid



5 interior decorating mistakes to avoid

This is the way it’s done!!













As for dining rooms, my rule of thumb is to add 24″-30″ to each end of the table and 24″-30″ to each side of the table.   So if you have a table that is 60″ x 36″, your rug should be 108″ x 84″  to  120″ x 96′.   This rule will allow for enough room for dining chairs to move about without feeling like they’re falling off the rug.4.  Don’t hang artwork too high

4.  Don’t hang artwork too high

People like to say that artwork should be hung at eye level.   Well  a person who is 5′-2″ and one who is 6′-0″  don’t have the same eye level.  So what do you do?  Meet in the middle and use the standard heigh most galleries use as a starting point.   58″ from the floor to the middle of the piece of art.  Art looks better lower so if you err a little on the shorter side, don’t sweat it.   And if you’re hanging something directly over a chair or sofa, a piece of art a little lower will make the space feel more intimate and you can enjoying from other seated areas within the space.

5.  Go larger rather than smaller with table lamps

A table lamp that is too small will look cheap and out of place.  Consider going with a taller lamp or a beefier lamp.   31″ is a nice height for a table lamp.  I prefer a lamp that makes a statement and visually draws your eye upward.  This is a great trick if you want to highlight a high ceiling OR  if you want to make a low ceiling feel taller.   So for me, I lean toward a 36″ high lamp to get that bang for my buck.

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