Home Design: Taking the fear out of wallpaper and paint

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catherinemonroe110BY CATHERINE MONROE

Lime wash at Portola Paints creates a meditteranean feel.

Lime wash at Portola Paints and Glazes creates a Mediterranean feel. Photo: Portola Paints

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to redecorate your house, simply because your choices feel so permanent. Most of us don’t have the luxury of redecorating every few years, so a wallpaper choice, for example can seem so monumental. There was a monologue in the movie Tootsie when Jessica Lange is telling Dustin Hoffman about her childhood bedroom’s wallaper. She says, “I made so many plans looking at that wallpaper.”

The hardest part of the whole process is, knowing where to begin. I always start with the rug. I find a beautiful rug that really speaks to me and gives me the color palate that I am feeling is right for the room. Depending on how nice the floors are, I decide how much of them I want to cover up. Next are the fabric samples. I go to the Pacific Design Center (PDC) or if I am on a tight budget I will go to Diamond Foam and Fabric. I pull every kind of fabric that has the colors of the rug. It is really fun touch and feel each fabric and then say “this is the curtains” and “this is the sofa.” That is how I get it all sorted out. It is important to keep working, while sitting on the rug with the samples until it “feels right”.

Paints can be used to create different effects, like this wrought iron look.

Paints can be used to create different effects, like this wrought iron look. Photo: Portola Paints

Next is the paint color and here is my steadfast, tried and true rule about paint. DON’T CHEAP OUT ON PAINT! There is good paint and not so good paint and you can’t tell the difference from the sample. The good paint is a little more expensive, but it is worth it. There is a paint store on Moorpark in Studio City, called Portola Paints and Glazes. They have a beautiful color palate and exquisite finishes to choose from. Portola also has a long list of painters that they recommend who work with their product to create the effects of anything from Venetian plaster to clay.

Choose wallpapers that look like they are painted on, such as this example from  on Melrose.

Choose wallpapers that look like they are painted on, such as this example found at Farrow and Ball on Melrose Avenue. Photo: Farrow and Ball

If I decide to wallpaper the room, rather than paint, I always choose a paper that is subtle and looks hand done. I love when the design on the paper looks like it was painted on. Farrow and Ball on Melrose has beautiful papers and so does Kneedler-Fauchere in the PDC. The design of the paper should be simple if it is a bedroom and a little more gutsy if its for a powder room.

Whatever you choose for your home — a fabric, a wallcovering, bedding, a rug – make sure it speaks to you. Make sure that you LOVE it. Don’t settle. If you don’t find what you want right away, keep looking because once you find that perfect match, it’s easy to commit – without fear.

Catherine Monroe is an interior designer who has worked for several high end residential design firms including Ralph Lauren, Robert A.M. Stern and Michael Smith. She was born and raised in New York and received her degree from Parsons School of Design. Previously, a Studio City resident, she is currently living in Brentwood, CA, where she runs her own company.  For product information included in her articles and interior design consultation, contact her directly at www.catherinemonroe.com

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.