How to Make a Monochromatic Color Scheme Work

When done well a monochromatic color scheme can be a very effective way to create a particular mood or vibe in a room. However it does require special thought to ensure a successful result. What a monochromatic scheme is usually not, is a single color, in a single value, applied uniformly all around. What it is, is a nuanced use of a single color, in a multitude of values and/or textures and finishes to create a specific effect.

First and foremost we need to understand why we are choosing a monochromatic scheme – is it a mood we’re trying to create, is it to provide a backdrop to a scene or for some art, or other focal point, or is it a color that represents something to the client, perhaps it is a favorite color that they want to live with? It’s important to understand why and to be intentional with the choice, rather than doing it for the sake of “matching” everything, which can lead to a flat and uninteresting room. Once you know why you’re doing it, this will influence the approach and choices of fabric and furnishings, to create the right look and feel, and perhaps most importantly, ensure the room engages you in the way you want. Here are some examples to illustrate:

Create a Mood

Perhaps we want to create a dark moody library. We might lacquer the walls in a single tone, and then play with textures, with a sofa and rug in a similar colorway. We can use objects like the books and hardware to create visual punctuation.

On the other hand, we might be looking for a serene and calm mood. This bedroom is a great example where we wanted to create a zen moment. We used lots of textures here, and the shapes of the lamps and curved sofa added to the softness, whilst bringing a sculptural element. There’s also a dramatic moment with the light fixture. The vintage Milo Baughman rocking chair and chairs bring further interest. Overall it’s harmonious, soft, inviting and restful, but still provides plenty for the eye to feast on.

Make Nature the Star

Sometimes the views outside the windows are the focal point, where we might still have a lush and luxe interior but the visual focus is looking through the room to the outside. In these rooms we might bring the outside in, using colors in harmony with the exterior. Textures again play a key role. Always avoid monotony with texture, wood tones, fabrics, and finishes.

Color in a Supporting Role

It may be that the color in the room is to play a supporting role, for example when there’s an art collection that you may want to take pride of place, or when the style or shape of the furnishings is the main focus. The furniture could be sculptural, or the shapes could be organic or antique, and a monochromatic color scheme allows the shapes to pop more. In these rooms the color is a visual punctuation for the artwork or the furniture.

A Favored Color

Sometimes the client has a color already in mind that they want to plan the room around. In the example below our client had a color vision for each space and each room, based on the spiritual meanings of the colors. The library was to be the “Rose Room”, based on the qualities of rose quartz bringing love into the home. We opted for a dramatic take on rose, keeping within the same colorway with the bookcases, sofa and drapes.

In all these examples, the reason and intention behind the choice of color plays a key role in determining the focus or the feel of the room. In these schemes textural variety, wood tones, and choice of materials is even more important than usual to ensure the room is successful.

Choosing the right Countertop


Our kitchens are often the hearts of our homes, where we cook, eat, work, and congregate. The kitchen countertops must perform all manner of functions from food preparation and serving, to work and homework station. These are surfaces that end up supporting a variety of activities from the people and pets in our homes. But which material is the best for one’s use? There are so many choices, it can feel overwhelming. To help you decide, I’ve listed some of the most popular options and their key characteristics:

1. Metal countertops include stainless steel, zinc, copper and brass, to name a few – they are especially germ-resistant and easy to clean. All are expensive, so these aren’t your best option if price point is an issue. Stainless steel is resistant to stains but water spots and fine scratches are common. Light scratches are the easiest to remove and can often be easily buffed out using a non-abrasive cleaner. Zinc and copper will react to water, acids such as lemon juice, and hand prints, etc. Eventually the stains blend together, leaving a beautiful dark-gray patina for zinc, and a dark bronze for copper. It requires patience to get that old world patina, but it is worth it. As for brass, it can be sealed and lacquered making it easy to maintain without the patina if one wants that “perfect” look. Yet all of these metals are on the soft side, so they can be dented depending on the thickness of the installed material.

2. Engineered stone includes popular choices such as Corian, Caesarstone, & Quartz. Each uses natural “stone” combined with resin to create a beautiful look. Corian & Caesarstone can be made into whatever shape you need, seam free. Engineered stones are all low maintenance in that they are non porous, hence stain resistant and don’t need to be sealed. None of them sustain heat well, so be careful with hot pots which can permanently damage the resin. 

3. Granite is a naturally occurring rock formed by the cooling of lava combined with quartz, feldspar, mica and various other minerals. Always beautiful but rare to find a bargain. The exact mix of minerals is what determines the color and pattern of the granite. The beauty of granite is that it can almost always be repaired, stains can be removed, and it will not scratch or etch from acids. It handles a hot pot better than man-made stone. The downside is that it can pit and chip. And because natural stone is porous, you’ll need to seal it from time to time if you want to keep it stain free and looking like new.

4. Concrete is a truly custom material. It can be tinted any color and shaped into any form you can imagine. But concrete is not only very expensive, it is very porous, so it must be sealed often.

5. Quartzite is a natural stone formed from sandstone, unlike granite which comes from lava. It is incredibly durable and comes in a range of hues, from brown to blue to bright white, and includes all kinds of movement veining. The downside is that it must be sealed once to twice a year to prevent staining, as it is a porous stone. Be careful – stone yards often label a slab as quartzite, but it is actually marble, and it will stain or etch. Test the slab with a glass tile. If it is quartzite, the glass will scratch easily, while marble will not.

6. Marble is a natural stone formed from limestone, and valued for its beauty, strength and durability.It is considered the hallmark of luxury in countertops. It’s available in an incredibly wide range of qualities and prices. Like the other natural stones, marble is porous. To keep it in pristine condition, it must be professionally sealed on installation, and then every three to six months afterwards. The other alternative is to let the marble absorb stains, etching, and the wear and tear within one’s kitchen, and think of them not as imperfections but as reminders of the life lived in your house.

What Difference Do Finishes Make?

Your choice of finish not only determines the final look of your countertop, but also affects how it will perform:

  • Polished: most popular, but shows scratches, scuffs and etching.
  • Honed: matte finish, more forgiving of scratches and scuffing. But the disadvantage is that it makes the stone more porous and susceptible to staining
  • Leathered: hides etching and watermarks more easily, but like honed surfaces, it increases the chances of staining and etching.

Choose the best countertop for you based not just on look and budget, but on how you will live with and use it, what degree of wear and tear you can tolerate, and how much ongoing maintenance is acceptable to you. There’s also the question of sustainability of materials, but that’s a topic for another blog.

Designing for a Second Home

This year saw a greater than usual influx of people to the Hamptons, and other out of town retreats, as people fled the cities, or no longer had commutes to consider whilst working from home. Many found themselves spending more time in their summer homes, whilst many others decided it was time to purchase in these areas.

Whether it’s in East Hampton, Southampton, NY, or the Berkshires, your second home provides some unique opportunities, as well as some different considerations, when it comes to interior design decisions. Here are some of the things to think about before starting your project:


This can really dictate the overall look you go for. You’re usually in a beautiful location, so it is natural to seek out home design elements that will help you enjoy it to the fullest extent. That can mean bringing in materials that make you think of the beach in Southampton, or textures that remind you of the mountains in the Catskills.


Before starting new construction or beginning an interior home remodeling project for an existing property, it’s important to ask yourself: what are you using this home for? Is it primarily for vacation time, with frequent guests? Make sure you allocate enough bedrooms and beds. Is it a getaway for just your own family? In that case you can keep it simple and perhaps include one spare room, or a bunk room for kids.

Second home locations typically offer homeowners a more relaxed environment when compared to life in Manhattan or other urban areas. If this is true for you, you may want to consider foregoing a formal dining room, and create larger rooms that combine living, eating, and entertaining.

Have Fun

Your second home is where you can experiment and really have fun with decor decisions. Make this design different to your current home or apartment. If your home is formal, then make it relaxed – you want to feel as if you have left your home. If rustic, make it modern. It should not be taken seriously. You don’t have to live with it on a daily basis, so take some risks.

  • Consider different materials. Try going organic, with real wood, granite, marble, linen and cotton.
  • Think about textures – make a chair feel more luxurious and comfortable.
  • Consider indoor/outdoor fabrics which will withstand the test of time, salt air, sand and suntan lotion.
  • Use color in a different way. I like to start with a neutral base, and add colorful accents, or bring the color to the walls with paint or wallpaper, and then bring in neutral furnishings.
  • Asymmetric furniture combinations can throw off the balance but bring interest. Think of two sofas and one chair, or one sofa and two chairs.

Keep Your Home Design Cohesive

Think of the house as a whole. Aim for consistency between rooms. If using neutrals and organics, continue that throughout. Keep the moldings the same color. Use the same tone of wood, but don’t be afraid to mix furniture from different periods – it adds intrigue. Bring it all together to create a fun, functional, but ultimately relaxing, home from home.

How to take a design from NICE to WOW

I want to talk today about the “secret sauce” that elevates one’s home design, taking it from something that evokes a “that’s nice” reaction from one’s friends, to something that makes them say “wow”. These are the added nuances that create dimension, depth, and interest in your interiors. I call this layering.

Layering is achieved by creating contrasts; between old and new, between areas within a room, between fabrics and colors, and between different fabrics and their textures. Here are my tips on how to approach it:

Rooms within rooms

Start by looking at the size of the room. Can you create rooms or distinct areas within a larger room? Try to envision coffee with your spouse, drinks with friends, or a larger party within one room. Look to create intimate gathering spaces, rather than one large arrangement. Even in a smaller room, this could be as simple as adding a reading chair in one corner, providing a retreat away from the main area.

Floors, Walls, & Ceilings

I love to use texture to bring an added dimension to these otherwise three-dimensional elements of a room. Rugs and carpets are essential for floors. Simply re-using a carpet from a different part of the house can profoundly change the feel of a room. Even if your design calls for a single color on the wall, consider textured wallpaper, rather than plain paint. And don’t forget the ceiling. Should moldings be added, or are they distracting in the design? Different finishes on the ceiling, such as lacquering with high gloss paint, can add contrast.

Color Scheme

Too often I see a two-color scheme throughout a room. When choosing a scheme, consider adding a third color. I feel this gives a superior end result, adding another element of interest.

Master Bed White Glamor Curved Sofa


When selecting fabrics, don’t just think of how they will fit your chosen color scheme. A combination of textures, patterns, as well as color, will give that layering effect. Even in a monochromatic room, layering is essential to achieve that enthusiastic reaction.

Old & New

Finally, one thing that can make the difference between an albeit beautiful room that looks like something from a furniture showroom, and a room that wows, is effectively combining old and new. I love nothing more than incorporating my clients’ heirlooms, antiques, art, or other loved possessions into a design. It not only adds interest but also makes the space more personal to you.

Color Trends in Interiors – How to Use them Effectively

The hand painted walls of this dining room were designed to reflect the client’s love of florals, in a custom color palette.

I’m often asked what colors are trending: what’s “in”, what’s fashionable, and of the moment? There are certainly fashionable colors and finishes in the interior design world, but what I’ve found is that whereas certain elements might change with the seasons, others are more enduring. Also, how we use a trend should take into account our personal tastes and preferences, and reflect our personal style.

Take the ubiquity of the color gray in interiors, for example. It’s been popular for some time now, and shows no signs of waning, but the way it’s used differs with each client. My own clients are a diverse group with a wide variety of tastes, from the very traditional to the height of modern. Many of them might want to incorporate gray into their designs, but some will be drawn to more pastel shades, whilst others are looking for something deeper or more dramatic.

Here are the ways I recommend for incorporating current color trends into your own home:

Warmer vs Cooler Tones

Across the board I’m seeing a move away from the cooler tones and towards warmer hues. Even with that aforementioned gray, the trend is towards its warmer incarnations, from soothing creamy pastels to deep blue grays, and heading towards cozy brown shades. The feeling is of comfort and warmth, as our homes become a refuge from the world.

Moody Hues

Another trend I’m seeing is for saturated, moody hues. I tell my clients to choose a color they love, and then go moodier with it. So whether that’s pastels, reds, aubergine, or teal, we can use those in rich, saturated tones which feel very now, but still leave you living with a color you adore, once the trend has moved on.

Living Room Fabric Sofa Osborne Little Fabric Drapes Romo

Neutral Bases

This is a tried and true formula for those who love to follow fashions but don’t want to be redecorating entire rooms every year, and is a great way to use those warmer tones. Keep the room neutral, and then have fun dressing it up with bolder, fashionable accents via pillows or upholstery. When the next fashion comes in, we can exchange the pillows, or even re-cover a chair, and be back on trend again.

Relaxing, Calming Colors

Calming colors have always been popular, but even more so now, as we seek comfort indoors. Blues are especially calming here in the Northeast, and have been hugely popular, but I’m currently enjoying a lot of greener tones. Green still invokes that soothing, calming feeling, but brings a freshness to the home, as we blur the line between our indoor and outdoor spaces.

Interior Design – Essential in the time of COVID-19?

Your first reaction might be to laugh at this question, but when you consider that the primary function of good interior design is to improve quality of life, it makes you think again. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our quality of life in ways we could never have imagined. Here are some ways in which interior design can help mitigate the stress of being home and improve our quality of life:


No sooner had lockdowns begun than we saw ourselves changing the way we use, and even see, our homes. COVID has necessitated that rooms have new functions rather than the purpose for which they were designed…some rooms have become multi-function, while others are being used more than ever. Our homes are now also our classrooms, offices, gyms and studios. Good design considers all of this, and ensures your rooms can be adapted for their new roles.


Now that life has slowed down, this has been a time of re-assessment and changing habits and values. Our homes are more important than ever, as we work from home more, and interact with our families more, but we’re also looking at the world differently. We may be looking more closely at how our choices impact the world and whether we can support those around us who have talent and are in need of work. Environmental impact, sustainability, energy consumption, and supporting local industries are front of mind. Your interior designer can source materials and services to support these choices.


When we think of design, we often think in terms of form and function; does it look good, and does it perform well? Great design will go a step beyond. It will use space, color, light as well as materials, textures and furniture, to elevate a room beyond aesthetics and use. A well designed room can invoke a sense of peace, relieve stress, provide a refuge from outside anxieties, a place of comfort and security. It can promote calm and improve our wellbeing.

So coming back then to whether interior design is essential, my answer is: it may not be vital to survival, but it IS essential for wellbeing and quality of life, now more so than ever.

What to Consider when Selecting an Interior Designer

When selecting an interior designer the most common route is to base the decision on their portfolio of work and whether or not it inspires you and speaks to your personal tastes. Although perhaps the primary consideration, there are other less obvious, but important, things to think about when making your choice:

Are you compatible?

I often say that the relationship between an interior designer and client is like a marriage. You are inviting us into your home. It’s a very personal experience, and can have its ups and downs as we navigate the challenges thrown up by any design project. If we are simpatico, aesthetically and also in personality, the marriage is more likely to be successful. Consider whether you think you will get along. Does the designer understand your vision? How easy will it be to communicate, not just when things are going well, but also if problems or issues arise, even though they may have nothing to do with you or the interior designer?

What do their suppliers and contractors think of them?

Client testimonials are definitely important, but another way to assess how well your project will go is to look at supplier and contractor testimonials too. Good relationships between the designer and supporting professionals will get you better outcomes, whether it’s sourcing unique items, getting things delivered urgently, ensuring smooth installations, dealing with issues, or just making the whole process less stressful.

How much do you want to be involved?

Do you want to be hands off, just providing approvals as needed, or do you like to be involved in every detail? Does your prospective designer’s way of working suit this? Will they welcome your input (or lack of), or will it cause tension in the relationship? Understanding both your expectations up front will save you from potential misunderstandings and disappointment down the line.

What do you expect to spend?

This can be the elephant in the room that no-one wants to acknowledge. A good interior designer will want to give you your ideal home, whilst also being true to their own standards. However it can be difficult to ascertain what is and isn’t reasonable without an honest discussion about what you want to spend. Making sure your designer can work within your desired budget means you’ll both know what to expect.

All these things can make the difference between a smooth and successful project and one wrought with stress and strife. I aim for my client’s experience to be a delight from start to finish. A selection process that takes all these things into consideration can go a long way to making that happen.

Why it’s Important to Involve your Interior Designer from the Beginning of your Build Project

You’re building a new home. You’ve hired an architect, and selected a general contractor, or perhaps you’re buying into a new development and you’re able to specify options. You plan on having your interior designer come in once the build is complete. You’ve covered all the bases, right? Wait a second. Rewind. There’s one thing to reconsider here. You could be making a mistake that many people make when planning a new build. Instead of waiting until after the build is complete, your interior designer should really be involved from the very beginning of the process. A recent project illustrates why:

A client’s beautiful new home has thrown up some challenges due to inadequate consideration for the furniture and electrical placement. The windows in one of the bedrooms are too low, and the nightstand will sit higher than the window sill. In another room, the windows have been positioned too high. When sitting, the views are very restricted, and only the tops of the trees are visible. In some cases these sorts of constraints can be designed around, but they place limitations on design choices and furniture selections. Perhaps a nightstand can be found that’s low enough, even though it may not be the client’s preferred style choice. In other cases, these restrictions can result in expensive change orders, such as when standard electrical outlets were included, but not USB outlets in the bedroom and kitchen island. The electrician will have to be called back and the walls disrupted. An expense of both time and money that could have been avoided. In our case, another bedroom has windows too close together but the client wants a queen size bed, which will now extend beyond the windows. Less than ideal.

These are examples of things that are not obvious when designing a house. Architects are trained to look at the overall space; the dimensions, proportions, and how the spaces flow together. Builders are looking at the technical aspects of the build, and ensuring the specifications and regulations are being adhered to. It’s the job of the interior designer to look at how the home will function; how you will live in it, where the furnishings will go, and how it reflects your lifestyle preferences and personal style. Involving your interior designer from the outset means they can ensure every detail is covered, both functionally and stylistically, saving you unnecessary expense and compromise, to achieve your ideal result.

What is “Over Purchasing” or “Over Building”, and why to avoid it?

For most people, the first and foremost consideration when purchasing or building a new home is to decide their budget. This is the starting point from which all other decisions stem. It can factor into the location, size, and style of property you choose to buy or build. But what does this budget really mean, and what should it include?

A common scenario I come across is a client who finds themselves having spent so much of their budget on the purchase price or build, that they have much less than needed to complete the interior to the standard they desire. They may end up with unfinished rooms, or having to make major compromises in the quality of materials and decor. In other words, they are faced with a less than ideal final result. This is what I call a case of “over purchasing” or “over building.” It can happen in many ways and for many reasons.

Real estate agents may encourage you to extend beyond the initial budget or scope. It’s always tempting to stretch to the next price point, but will this get you to your end goal? Are you envisioning a beautifully finished home within months of completing the purchase or build? A larger space or more expensive property won’t get you there if you’re living in unfinished rooms. Architects are artists, and for them and their clients it is exciting to imagine all the possibilities, but it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Additional expenses always come up, such as town and wetland permitting, lawyers fees, closing costs etc, that may not have been initially anticipated and accounted for. All of these can eat away at the overall budget.

Completing your project over a longer period of time is certainly a valid strategy. This could well be your intention, and the interiors can be planned accordingly. But if that’s not your plan then it’s wise to be aware of falling into the trap of “over purchasing” and “over building”. When setting or spending your budget, rather than thinking of it as buying or building a house, think of it as making a home, which includes everything from the physical footprint, the rooms and other spaces, to the fixtures, furnishings and decor. Keep this in mind when making all purchasing decisions throughout the lifecycle of your project.

My goal, as an interior designer, is always to exceed my client’s expectations. When a project has been planned with the end goal in mind, it will lead to a result that delights, rather than disappoints.