Why Are Designers’ Fees So Distressing? 5 F-A-Qs Answered

 
Why are designers' fees so distressing?
 

We Can’t Afford To Pay Designers’ Fees!

Designers’ fees can be frightening. “Sticker shock” is not uncommon for homeowners. I’ve got answers to five frequently asked questions about how much a designer may charge you for their services, and how their fee is calculated.
 

Has This Happened To You?

You call a designer to help you with your kitchen or bathroom remodeling. They may say their fee is “X” amount per hour, but you really don’t know how much you’re going to pay that designer in total. They may tell you that their fee starts at $2,500 and goes up from there. Or they’ll tell you that their fee is a percentage of your investment. It’s confusing and frustrating.  If you’re thinking of spending only $10,000 in your bathroom or $20,000 in your kitchen, you don’t know how much you’ll need or want to pay for a designer to help you.
 
The first question is critical for helping you decide how you want to proceed with your project.
 

#1: “Do I Need Someone To Help Me?”

That’s a great question! You may not need a designer if you’re:

  • Thinking about freshening up with a new color scheme
  • Painting your existing cabinets
  • Installing a new countertop and backsplash
  • Installing new flooring
A contractor can accomplish these types of projects without a designer. But they cannot advise you about the color and style, other than their personal preferences. You’re on your own to make these decisions. Or you’ll have to hire a decorator.
 
The second question is a good follow-up:
 

#2: “When Do I Need A Designer?”

You should hire a professional designer if you want to:
  • Do more than freshen up — new cabinets, new appliances, etc..
  • Change the layout within the same footprint.
  • Enlarge your bathroom or kitchen.
It’s reasonable to pay a designer to help you if your target budget for a bathroom remodel is $20,000 or more, or if your budget for a completely remodeled kitchen is $35,000 or more. Why? You’re going to need someone to:
  • Help you select the right products for your budget and lifestyle.
  • Create detailed plans that follow codes and show all your decisions.
  • Refer you to qualified contractors and suppliers.

The third question will help you refine who to hire.

#3: “Can I Hire A Decorator To Help Me?”

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, most homeowners (and many contractors) don’t understand the difference between:
  • Decorators: People who can help with colors, furniture, window treatments, and accessories. They do not have the education, training, and experience with building systems to draft plans and specifications. They need specific technical knowledge to make recommendations that are best for you and your budget.
  • Designers: People who have education, training, and experience. They can draft plans for a project. But they may not have the specific knowledge of products and codes to prepare detailed plans and specifications for your remodeling project.
  • Kitchen-Bath Designers: People who have education, specific training, and experience related to remodeling. They can draft detailed plans and prepare specifications for contractors’ estimates and permits. Some kitchen-bath design specialists have become certified to prove their knowledge and dedication to help you. Get more information about these designers at the National Kitchen & Bath Association website.
  • Architects: People who have the most education but may lack the training and experience to help you with specific details for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project.

#4: “Okay,” you say, “I get it. But what is a kitchen-bathroom designer going to cost me?”

 
The fourth question is asked most frequently. It’s frustrating because there isn’t a lot of specific information about fees. But keep reading! You will need more information to understand how fees are calculated. There are three basic systems that designers use:
  • Hourly rate
  • Flat fee
  • Percentage of the project cost

Hourly Rate

Jill Geisdorf of Chic on the Cheap was recently quoted on houzz.com,  “No two projects are the same, and no two designers charge the same.” Bob Vila says, “Most independent kitchen designers charge by the hour with rates that can range from $65 to $250 an hour, and $125 to $150 is typical. If your designer charges by the hour, you’ll want an estimate of how many hours the designer expects your project will require.”

 

Flat Fee

This system gives designers the most flexibility because they can charge whatever they want for every project. You must know:

  • When the designer will expect payments.
  • What percentage of the fee they’ll expect you to pay for each interval.

Percentage Of The Project Total

The percentage system is based on a percentage of your total investment. The problem with this fee structure is that it’s in the designer’s best interest to increase your investment. Who’s going to be your advocate? Unfortunately, it will be you.
 

There’s A hidden “Gotcha.”

Some decorators, designers, and kitchen-bath designers may charge a lower fee. But they’ll want to sell products to you so they can mark up how much you pay for those products.  Also, they may receive referral or finder’s fees from contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers. Selling products and receiving finders’ fees increase their bottom-line income. You have a right to know how much the designer is making on products and referral fees. Of course, you should get a written agreement that states what services are included, what services are not included, a breakdown of what they charge, and how they will invoice you for their services.
 
Now, the fifth question:
 

#5: “Why Are Designers So Secretive About Their Fees?”

 
I understand your dilemma. Everyone cites a range, but no one wants to be locked into a specific fee — publicly. I hear your frustration. But there are two reasons for the secrecy:
  • Designers do not want their competition to know what they charge homeowners.
  • Months or years after the fee is stated, someone may demand that fee, creating a potential dispute.

You’ll have to call candidates to gather information, including how much they charge so that you can make an informed decision. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what and how they charge and be able to write it down on a comparison list? I’m going to give you a free chapter from my award-winning book to help you! You can get a copy of the chapter immediately by simply filling out the request form below. Filling out the form will also subscribe you to my friendly newsletter that’s filled with great information, remodeling hints and tips, and special offers.

Now I’m going to share my information with you because you deserve it. It’s one aspect of being a Homeowner Advocate.

 

You Ask For Total Honesty and Transparency. Here It Is!

I never sell products. Never!  My responsibility is to help you find the best value for the products you buy.  I have never received nor paid referral fees and never will, helping you get the results you want for the lowest possible investment. I am totally transparent about what you’re paying for my services.
 
Here is how I calculate my fee: After seeing your home and talking with you, I’ll tell you — in writing! — that my total fee is a calculated comparison with other similar projects I’ve had recently. Here are two projects that are good examples:
 

A Master Bathroom that was 168 square feet (11′ x 14′), with the following features:

Designer Fee for Master Bathroom in Vancouver was $3,645

  • Minor changes to the layout
  • A private toilet room
  • Two sinks
  • Storage for all personal-care items and linens
  • A whirlpool tub
  • A large, separate tiled shower with fixed and personal showerheads, a shampoo niche, and a bench
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Powerful, quiet exhaust fans
I devoted about 27 hours to that and similar projects. At $135 an hour, my total fee for all my professional services would be $3,645.
 

A Kitchen that was 250 square feet (15.5′ x 16′) with the following features:

Designer Fee for remodeled kitchen in Oregon City was $5,805
  • Minor changes to the layout
  • New appliances (range, hood, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven)
  • Quality plumbing fixtures
  • New custom cabinets
  • Stone countertops and custom backsplashes
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Ventilation that complies with current codes
  • Wood flooring
I devoted about 39 hours to that and similar projects. My total maximum-not-to-exceed fee for all my professional services would be $5,265 at $135 an hour.
 
Invoices are sent at least once a month and they’re calculated to the nearest 15 minutes. You’ll pay only for the time I devote to your project. My maximum fee remains the same unless the scope of your project changes or you request more services.  My goal is to help you achieve your goals. Get information about my creative design process, then call me today to chat about a project you’re planning.

In Conclusion

How much you pay a professional designer is going to be an essential part of your total investment. Their fee is only one aspect of your decision about who to hire. The relationship you have with your designer will last from the day you meet until after your project is finished. Therefore, it should be based on:

  • Mutual trust and understanding.
  • A common goal.
  • Stellar communication.

 

Get the FREE chapter of my book about designers.

 

 

 

 

Your comments are welcomed!

 
Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.
 
 
 
 

Gratitude for Awesome Awards and Accolades

Gratitude for Awards and Accolades

The phone rang at 7:15 am on October 4, not an unusual time for a client or contractor to call. My husband, Jay, answered the phone then said, “It’s a lady from Kitchen-Bath Design News.”

I thought, “They probably want to renew my subscription.”

“Hello, this is Diane.”

“Good Morning, Diane, this is Autumn McGarr. I’m an editor with Kitchen-Bath Design News. I’m calling to tell you that you’ve been included in this year’s ‘Top 50 Innovators.’ Congratulations!”

“Wow, that’s fantastic! Thank you so much!”

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in the final stages of a kitchen project that had taken a toll on my confidence. But I wasn’t going to think about anything negative right now. In 35 years, I’ve been fortunate to win awards, prizes, and accolades. But in the few minutes after the phone call, I re-visited the very first project after establishing D. P. Design.

1979 – Sound Systems and Interior Design

In 1979, customers at our two stereo stores wanted great but visually-unobtrusive music in their homes. At that time, the satellite+subwoofer and surround sound concepts had just become popular. Our employees in San Francisco and Palo Alto were eager for Sound Systems to become an early advocate for this new technology. We would offer a round flat top for the subwoofer that would make it look like a side table, especially with a floor-length table cloth. Our Palo Alto store manager figured out how to build top-quality speakers into walls, and we’d provide custom grille cloths to blend with the walls. We also figured out how to effectively hide the components so customers’ living rooms didn’t look like a recording studio with a multitude of blinking lights and volume gages.

Furniture placement is very important for serious listeners to be in the “sweet spot” for maximum realistic stereo effect. Jay and our employees would take care of the technical details, and I would help our customers rearrange furniture to achieve the look they wanted. Jay observed how much I enjoyed this creative endeavor. “Why don’t you think about taking interior design classes?” he asked. I thought about it — for about five minutes. It took another five minutes to find a local college that had an interior design department. Two classes a semester would be possible while working with Jay at Sound Systems.

1982 – Sound Systems, the Recession and Repercussions

Three years later, the recession thwarted our attempts to keep Sound Systems viable. Interest rates rose to over 20%. At the same time, video and computer technology affected consumers’ spending habits. We had already closed the San Francisco store. With dwindling sales, we decided to close the Palo Alto store, too. I was in the middle of finals week, working with Jay and our remaining employees to sell everything at a huge discount. After working all day, worry and regrets kept Jay awake while I drank strong coffee, studied and worked on final projects. It was hard to concentrate with all of the negative thoughts invading my head, “You’re a failure!” or “What are you going to do now?” and worst of all, my mothers words, “I told you so.”

We had big “Going Out Of Business” signs on all the windows. One night in particular is an experience Jay and I will never forget. He agreed to drive one of our employees home, so I drove home by myself. When Jay got home around 8:30, he discovered me on the kitchen floor, incoherent and unable to talk, with blood around my mouth and on my chin. He said that my tongue looked like a piece of raw hamburger, and took me to the local emergency room, where they confirmed that I’d had a grand mal seizure. They gave me a whopping dose of medications to prevent another seizure, advising Jay to watch me carefully.

Around 2:00 a.m., the phone rang. It was the Palo Alto Police Department, “Sorry to tell you this, but thieves backed a van through one of the front windows and cleaned out your store. You’ll need to be here to identify the equipment we recovered and supervise while the window is boarded up.” The next day, Jay confided, “That was living Hell for me. I didn’t want to leave you alone, but I had to.” The equipment, worth over $100,000.00, was damaged beyond repair or sale. We closed the doors and walked away, paying our employees’ severance and all of the manufacturers’ invoices instead of filing bankruptcy.

After Sound Systems: Gratitude for New Beginnings

I recovered from the seizure and became a sales-designer with a local custom cabinet maker and remodeler while still attending design classes. Jay became a salesperson for computers and accessories. In June, I graduated with multiple degrees in Interior Design, Lighting Design, Bath Design, and Kitchen Design. Interior Design was interesting, but the kitchen and bath classes had whetted my desire to lean more towards architecture and drafting. I had enlisted an architect friend to help hone my drafting skills, because the architectural drafting teacher believed that none of the interior design students deserved a higher grade than a C. The artificially-low grade was something I couldn’t tolerate. Several of us appealed the low grade to the head of the Interior Design Department. She reviewed homework assignments and tests and raised everyone’s grade to at least a B. I was fortunate to receive an A- for the class.

The architectural drafting class was just one example of what I did to learn what I’d be using for years.  But, for every assignment, I was compelled to work harder and longer to get what I believed to be barely-acceptable results, comparing myself to the other students.  I was continually shocked by the high grades and accolades I received for the assignments and tests. In my mind, I really didn’t deserve it.

Interior Design Education, Graduation and First Award

I admired and respected all of the teachers, but there was one in particular that I’ll never forget, Hub McDaniel. I’m filled with gratitude for his impact on my professional life. He was an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act, advising us frequently, “Learn everything you can about accessibility and start using it in all of your projects.” His advice stuck with me, one of the major reasons I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. He also said, “Pass the NCIDQ examination. It’s the best way for you to prove a high level of professionalism with education, examination, and experience.” I added the NCIDQ to the Certified Bath Designer and Certified Kitchen Designer examinations, and successfully passed all three.

Accolades FLW DoghouseThe biggest impact Hub had on me, though, was his admission about being a raving fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. He found ways to include examples of Mr. Wright’s genius often. The final exam for his class was to design dog houses that showed a knowledge of different types of roof styles. One of my examples had a flat roof with deep eaves. There were banks of side-by-side narrow windows on three sides, and a doorway on the fourth side flanked with two flat bowls on pedestal bases. The “architect” signed the perspective: Frank Lloyd Woof. Hub’s influence on me is the reason that Jay and I are living in our dream home, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Gordon House” in the Oregon Garden.

Every year, teachers and students in the Interior Design Department selected one person to receive the “Henry Adams Award,” for exemplary skills and talents. There were many students who I felt were top contenders. All of them had way more talent and ability than I did. When they chose me for the award, I was sure they had made a mistake, or I was having a dream. When Clarellen Adams announced the award, she said that the person receiving the award had proven a higher commitment to being a professional interior designer than other students. That’s when it sunk in that attitude and effort guarantee better results. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

I was lucky to have a few minutes of private conversation with Mrs. Adams, who had developed the famous Design Center in San Francisco with her late husband, Henry. They were dynamos in the interior design community, and masters of marketing. She gave me advice that I followed immediately, “Send out press releases about your award to all local newspapers and magazines. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.” She was absolutely right!

June, 1984: The Birth of D. P. Design and First Clients

It was hard to believe how many people read the articles and called me to help them redesign a kitchen or bathroom. It was time to quit my job at the cabinet shop and establish D. P. Design. One lady who called reminded me about meeting with her and her husband when I was still employed with the cabinet maker. “I saw the article about you in the Mercury News. We haven’t remodeled our kitchen yet, and we’d like you to help us.”

Accolade kitchen beforeThe original kitchen felt like a dungeon. It had dark stained cabinets, olive-green carpeting and olive-green tile counters. The only light source was a glaring fluorescent fixture that encircled a large skylight. We worked together to achieve a well-lit kitchen where they could display their collection of Red Skelton clown figurines. The couple also collected original Red Skelton clown paintings, which were used as inspiration for colorful accessories.

Accolade kitchen in magazineThe remodeled kitchen included a custom induction cooktop, a commercial wok, a gas cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Thermador micro-thermal oven. Induction cooktops are popular now, but at the time this kitchen was created, there was only one manufacturer of induction cooktops, “Fasar.” The couple hired a local artist I recommended, to paint the hot water heater door in the walk-in pantry. It was a portrait of the wife, who was pregnant at the time, a golf enthusiast, dressed up like a clown. She’s sitting barefoot on a stool, in front of a window, with a frying pan in one hand and a golf club in the other hand. The bottom of her apron reads, “I’d rather be golfing.”

Good luck led me to a Brunshwig fabric that had a circle of flowers for window treatments in the adjoining eating nook. The same fabric was inspiration for hand-painted 12×12 “Fasar” tiles and a mural behind the gas cooktop and wok. The same fabric provided inspiration for three-dimensional custom stained-glass doors in the wall and pantry cabinets, created by an artist in San Francisco. This was over 25 years before LED strip lights, so I devised a way to light the stained glass with automobile dome lights.

I had an itchy-twitchy feeling about this project, a feeling that I’ve had many times since that often precedes an accolade or award. A well-known architectural photographer captured the kitchen with his 4×5 camera. Again, remembering Clarellen Adams’ advice, I sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines. No one was interested. Then I remembered a discussion with the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine at a seminar I’d attended. She said, “We’re always interested in projects. Send us copies of photos and detailed information.”

First Major Accolade

Accolade Kitchen PantryI sent everything about the project to the magazine in April, 1986. Five months went by and I was ready to give up until one of the editors called in mid-September. “We’re thinking about including your kitchen project in an upcoming issue. Do you have time to answer a few questions?” That phone call lasted for over an hour. I anxiously anticipated arrival of the October issue. Nothing about the project. The November issue didn’t include my project either. “Okay,” I thought, “this project wasn’t good enough for such a well-known publication after all.”

In December, the first west-coast Kitchen-Bath Industry Show was being held in Long Beach. The huge convention hall was packed with hundreds of exhibits featuring latest technology and design elements. Thousands of attendees from all over the country and several foreign countries played “bumper bodies” in the aisles, trying to see the exhibits. Kitchen & Bath Business magazine had a large booth at the center of the exhibits. As we approached, I saw a continuous row of their December issue displayed on every inch of countertop. Then I saw the cover. There was my kitchen project!

The Impact of Awards, Accolades, Medals, and Prizes

Ever since that wonderful day in December, third-party acknowledgement for a job well done, I know the gratitude that athletes feel when they win gold medals at the Olympics; how medical researchers feel when they discover a cure for an insidious disease; the pride and gratitude that Nobel Prize winners feel; how performers feel when they are given a lifetime-achievement award; the over-the-moon joy that new parents feel.

This is how I felt when Autumn McGarr called in October. In no way does the inclusion in the Top 50 Innovators mean that I’m better than anyone else in my profession. It’s an acknowledgment for commitment to excellence in all ways, at all times. An accomplishment, award, prize, or medal for one of us is a major achievement for all of us — inspiration and motivation to be better and do better.

To see a complete list with links to all Awards and Press that D. P. Design has received, click here to visit the page.  If you want to update your home with a home addition, with a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, call today! 503-632-8801. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and how D. P. Design can help you achieve them!

How Can You Avoid Construction Horror Stories?

How can you avoid construction horror stories? You can do it! These are not the typical ghost stories you hear around a campfire. But you may have heard your family and acquaintances talk about construction horror stories at social gatherings.  Exceeding the budget. Not meeting the deadline. Contractors not showing up, or doing lousy work. D-I-Y disasters. In 35 years, I’ve heard and read about and experienced similar horror stories. What makes me sad is that most of the problems encountered could have been avoided.

Avoidable Horror Story: Wallpaper That Ended Up On the Floor, Not The Wall

I worked for a custom cabinet and remodeling company after finishing design school. It was fall and business had slowed down from the peak summertime projects. A couple in Half Moon Bay, California had been saving for years and hired my employer to remodel their master bathroom. I helped them make all the product decisions which included heavily-textured vinyl wallcovering. The husband worked swing shift at the San Francisco Airport and normally got home between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. Knowing that the project was winding down, he went into the bathroom to see what had been done when he got home from work. Later, I found out that he sat on the toilet for over four hours, watching the wallpaper slide down the walls like a slithering snake. When he called me at 6:00 a.m., it was easy to tell that he had a hard time controlling his anger.  What had happened?

I learned later that my boss had sent two of the cabinet manufacturing employees to install the wallcovering. They assumed that it was prepasted, and soaked it in water then applied it to the walls. The only thing that made the wallpaper stick to the wall was the heavy texture that acted like tiny suction cups! My boss had to replace the wallcovering, and hire a professional wallpaper hanger to redo the job that his employees had botched.  The homeowners were satisfied with the results, but not without frustration and hassles. They had done absolutely nothing wrong, assuming that my employer would take care of them in every way.

How to avoid this nightmare: Unfortunately, there’s no way for homeowners to know who a contractor has hired, unless they ask for a list of everyone who’s going to be working in their home. The important lesson is — whether it’s a contractor or a homeowner — don’t let the lure of saving money cloud an important decision that has a high probability of negative results.

A Ghoulish Tale About Lack of Communication

With my first client after establishing D. P. Design, I learned the importance of communication among the remodeling team members. The homeowners had a general contractor who they wanted to hire. They demanded to hire an independent electrician for their project instead of letting the general use one of his subs.  I didn’t realize until later what a problem it would create. The G.C. and the electrician refused to communicate. Everything seemed to be progressing smoothly until a heavy storm system rolled through our area. The day before, the electrician was penetrating the roof and running wires into the kitchen and didn’t tell anyone about the holes he’d created. The contractor called me to report that the new custom cabinets were all wet. He demanded that I call the electrician and the homeowners to report what had happened, to let them know that he wasn’t going to clean up the mess.

The homeowners were caught in the middle of a dog fight.  They demanded that the electrician pay the G.C. for cleaning up the job site and repairing the roof. Fortunately, the cabinets weren’t damaged.

How to avoid horror stories like this: Ask questions — lots of them! Discover if the contractor you’re hiring has employees and regular subcontractors. More important, talk with the contractor about tradespeople or suppliers you know. Be especially careful about hiring friends or family members to work on your project. These relationships have a high failure rate.

The Root of Most Construction Horror Stories: D-I-Y

In the past 35-plus years, I’ve heard and read about D-I-Y horror stories, and I’ve lived them firsthand. Often, the decision to tackle a project is driven by the need or desire to save money. But homeowners can also be lulled into a false sense of  “I/we can do this!” — especially after watching how easy a project seems to be on TV or videos on the internet.  My husband and I have had our share of construction horror stories. Most of these nightmares happened because we thought we could save money. We didn’t!

I’ve written about D-I-Y remodeling disasters before! Read this blog for more information! I’ve also written about the problems created by remodeling reality shows setting homeowners up for serious problems.

Floors are a BIG Challenge For D-I-Yers!

We had major problems refinishing the wood floors in our first home.  Looking back on it, we can laugh. But at the time, it was not funny. The first disaster was when we were refinishing the floors in a den adjacent to the entry hall that we intended to convert to a dining room. The oak strip floor had been covered with carpeting and needed to be freshened up. My husband did the sanding around the perimeter of the room. I decided to sand the middle of the room with the drum sander we’d rented, while he was at work.  Everything was going fine until I had to change the sandpaper and didn’t pay attention to how the metal plate held the sandpaper in place. When I turned on the machine again and started moving the sander across the floor, I noticed big chunks of the floor were being spewed out. The screws that held the plate in place were digging and carving the floor with every pass! There was nothing to do but pay a flooring company to extend the parquet from the entry hall into the dining room.  It turned out beautiful, but it was an expensive learning lesson.

Did we learn a lesson? Yes, and no. We didn’t make the same mistake when we refinished the floors in my home office, but that project turned into a horror story, too. After we sanded the floor, we decided to work together to apply the urethane. I was on my hands and knees with a wide brush intended for refinishing floors. My husband stood over my shoulder and carefully poured puddles of urethane that I then spread uniformly. So what was the problem? I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, there were millions of “fuzzies” in the finish. My husband was wearing wooly socks! We had to re-sand the floor and vacuum it thoroughly before applying the urethane. This time, my husband was barefoot! We got the results we wanted, but it cost more for extra days for the drum sander rental, plus more urethane. And it nearly tripled the amount of time we’d allotted to do this project.

A friend of ours had a floor refinishing disaster when he was doing repair and maintenance for his landlord in exchange for a lower rent. He lived in a beautiful Victorian three-story home that had been converted into apartments. Victorian homes are known for rich and ornate woodworking that includes heavily-carved wainscoting and moldings. Everything seemed to be going fine — didn’t we just read this? — until the drum sander stopped working. Dead. Then Ed remembered the age of the building and realized that he’d probably blown a fuse. So he went down to the electrical panel in the basement and verified that he had blown a fuse. Fortunately, there were spare fuses available, so he replaced the bad fuse with a good one. Immediately after the last turn of the fuse, he heard the drum sander come to life over his head. Although he immediately ran up the stairs, he was too late to stop the mess that the sander had created. It had bounced off the walls, tearing up all the beautiful woodwork, and dug a trench in the floor.

“Let’s Take Out This Wall” D-I-Y Near-Disaster

Homeowners called me to help them solve a problem they’d created. Empty-nesters with a five-bedroom home, they decided to convert a bedroom that was adjacent to their master bedroom into a sitting room. They bought or borrowed a sledgehammer, and on a Saturday morning, the husband started swinging the massive tool of destruction at the wall between the two rooms. After removing several studs, he heard the ceiling and roof creaking and groaning, and he could see the ceiling sagging. He realized that he was taking out a bearing wall! He immediately grabbed a hammer and nails and reinstalled the studs to stabilize the structure. When I met with the couple, we talked about what needed to be done: hire a structural engineer and a contractor so they could have the master suite they desired. It was relatively easy, and the end results were wonderful. They didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they hadn’t thought about everything before they started removing the bearing wall. They ended up replacing the carpeting in both rooms because they didn’t realize that there would be a gap where the wall had been.

Hints, How-To, and Tips for D-I-Yers

How To Avoid D-I-Y Disasters: Yes, it’s difficult. But not impossible! Before tackling any D-I-Y project, we need to research the logical steps involved and the tools required. We also need to read about other people’s experience with a similar project. The biggest challenge to overcome is our mindset.  What’s really driving the need to do the work instead of hiring a professional? There are many reasons why homeowners get trapped by D-I-Y projects, but the most obvious one is money, or the lack of funds to hire a professional. Before doing the work, think about how much you have for the project, and how much you think you’re going to save. Statistics verify that most D-I-Y projects end up being a higher investment than the budget allotted. Often, the actual investment exceeds what homeowners would pay a professional to do the work. Additionally, it usually takes three to four times as long for homeowners to achieve the results they think they want.

One of my first instructors in design school frequently said, “There are only two ways to pay for anything. You can take it out of your bank account, or take it out of your hide.”  Not all D-I-Y projects are disasters. Successful projects are most often done by people who know their strengths and weaknesses. My husband is an excellent tile setter. Slow, yes. But he takes his time to do it right and gets consistently straight grout joints. And he’s a master with a spray gun, whether it’s applying paint to a room or lacquer to cabinets. But I don’t let him lay his hands on rollers and brushes!  He’s also very knowledgeable about anything electrical or electronic. Because of his talents, we’ve saved a bundle of money over the years.

I’m going to be brutally honest. As a D-I-Yer, you’re not likely to achieve the same results that a professional would, in the amount of time it would take a professional to do the job. What is your time worth? Are you willing to live with a daily reminder of a botched job? My husband says this often, mostly in reply to a “honey-do” request: “If you want a professional job, hire a professional.” Here’s one of my favorite quotes that apply to virtually all construction horror stories:

The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

In Conclusion

What I shared with you is a very small sampling of construction nightmares that I’ve heard and read about. To satisfy curiosity before writing this blog, I did an internet search for “construction horror stories” which yielded millions of results. But reviewing the past 35 years in this business, the number of successes that my colleagues and I have achieved exceeds horror stories by a ten-to-one ratio.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that there are very few absolute successes and absolute failures.  The desire, the hope for success is what keeps us all moving forward.

Listen To The Podcast: Construction Horror Stories

I can and will help you with your home building or remodeling project! I truly care about helping you stay within a reasonable budget and achieve the best results possible. Contact me today! Let’s talk about your goals.

Recent Topics: An Astounding Mashup!

Recent Topic #1: Appliances

Recent Topics: Whirlpool Appliance, New ColorRecent topics are being revisited in this blog, starting with appliances. I was excited to visit the largest appliance store in Oregon, Standard TV & Appliance, to see the new Whirlpool “Sunset Bronze” appliances. They are elegant! The brushed finish is a warm gray, like nickel. I love the handles, which are a cool stainless steel color, blending the two metals perfectly! For my listeners in the greater Portland area, the Beaverton showroom at  3600 S.W. Hall Boulevard, is selling the floor models of the “Sunset Bronze” appliances at a fantastic price! The suite includes a french-door refrigerator, dual-fuel range and a microwave-hood. It’s difficult to hold my frustration at bay, though.   I really wish manufacturers would listen to professional kitchen designers and discontinue making microwave-hood combinations. They’re not safe, and they don’t provide good suction! Safety has to be the #1 priority in all home remodeling!

While I was there, my new dedicated salesperson, Christi, showed me the Dacor “Modernist” display with clean no-nonsense lines. Oh, it’s gorgeous! Their full line of products is available in black stainless steel or stainless steel. One of the many things I love about the new Dacor products is their Wifi integration. Christi showed me how the hood automatically turns on when she turned on the range. This is a wonderful safety feature!

Exhaust Hoods: Safety Features and Code Requirements

Here are safety tips I share with everyone:

  • Remember to turn on your exhaust before you turn on your cooktop.
  • Your hood should be 6” wider than your cooking surface. This gives you more area to collect steam and grease while you’re cooking, and it protects wall cabinets on both sides of the hood.
  • There should be 30” clear vertical space from the top of your cooking surface to the bottom of the hood.
  • You’ll need make-up air if:
    • You’re interested in a new high-BTU gas cooktop or rangetop
    • If your hood is rated at 400 cfm or more.

Your exhaust hood should be powerful enough to clear the air. But in today’s tight homes, you’ll have to add another source to maintain equal pressure balance inside your home. Your investment in make-up air will add $1,000 or more to your project. Make-up air is a code requirement in most states, and there’s no way to avoid it.

Recent Topics #2.1: Behr Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Behr Color Palettes 2020

Two weeks ago, I talked about color and paint. August is when major paint manufacturers start introducing their new colors for the coming year. Behr and Sherwin-Williams have announced their new color trends for 2020, and Miller Paint has introduced new colors, although they avoid the word “trend.”

The paint giant recently released a trend-driven collection of 15 shades they’re predicting will take over interiors in 2020. The collection is named Restore, Worldhood, and Atmospheric. The colors include a range of balanced neutrals and earthy greens to “lavish oranges.” In a recent press release, Behr said, “The new palette sources inspiration from the desire to engage with the world around us and restore balance in our everyday lives.”

Back to Nature delivers the most literal interpretation of the landscape around us. It includes soothing shades of green and blue, to “provide restorative qualities to encourage balance,” says Behr. Because of their calming, de-stressing effects, the shades within the Restore palette are great choices in a bedroom or home office.

If you’re looking for something a bit bolder, Behr’s Worldhood palette is your best bet that includes warm red, yellow, and burnt orange. The palette is reminiscent of electric sunsets and “natural rugged landscapes.” Try it in a room that sees a lot of guests, as the overall warmth of the shades translates to an inviting environment for hosting.

Behr’s Atmospheric palette delivers “new neutrals” in a collection that’s anything but boring. This palette is perfect for every room in your home, and you can choose colors from the other two palettes for accents.

Here’s a link to Behr’s new 2020 color palette: https://freshome.com/behr-2020-color-trends-palettes

Homes are a living example of the family that occupies them. Each family member -– each room — has its own personality, but every one complements the others, to create a unique, unified environment.

Recent Topics #2.2: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors

Recent Topics: Sherwin-Williams Paint Colors 2020

On August 13, Sherwin-Williams announced its color palettes for 2020. There are five distinct categories for the new colors: Alive, Haven, Heart, Mantra, and Play. Here’s what Sherwin- Williams says: “The new 2020 Colormix Forecast palettes work to create restorative spaces for relaxing, recharging and inviting creativity. This forecast resonates with designers for its warm and nature-inspired palettes. In nature, it’s always right. The new palettes also bring a sense of joy. Whether your happiness comes from people, nature or spirituality, each palette evokes happiness. It’s about the balance of color and the striking shades of blue and the soft pastels throughout the color story.”

“With so much going on in the world, it’s important that we give ourselves space to escape and recharge. Using colors derived from nature provides us the connectedness and restorative powers that we need to tackle our day-to-day lives. This year’s color trend palettes foster focus and balance for mind, body and spirit — something most of the experts agree is needed in the world right now. 2020 is going to be a big year for everyone. We are starting a new decade, and it’s an election year. All of this change affects us, making us crave balance in our lives, so it makes sense that these palettes offer visual balance for our surroundings.”

It’s interesting that Sherwin-Williams created special mandalas for each color group, and defined each with positive influences:

Alive: Optimism, Authenticity, Glocalization*, New Local

Haven: Simplicity, Wabi-Sabi, Conservation, Material Health

Heart: Bauhaus, Bohemian, Fusion, Humanity

Mantra: Minimalism, Serenity, Scandinese*, Sanctuary

Play: Escapism, Humor, Joy, Energy

I love to learn new words! *Glocalization is the practice of conducting business according to both local and global considerations. *Scandinese (or Japandi) is the fusion between Scandinavian and Japanese design that are based on simplicity with a strong reference to nature, first introduced in 2017.

Here is the link where you can see Sherwin-Williams’ new 2020 color forecast: https://www.swcolorforecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/SW-Colormix.2020.pdf

Behr and Sherwin-Williams are large companies with big advertising budgets. By contrast, there’s a paint company based in the Northwest that’s my favorite: Miller Paint. The company was formed in 1890 by Ernest Miller, Sr., who purchased a stone mill and began manufacturing his own paint. I just learned that Miller Paint is employee owned. That’s a keystone to their success, and an important element of the company culture that’s both empowering and exciting. Love their logo: “Made here, for here.”

It was interesting to discover that Miller is the only paint company that talks about environmental commitment. They say, “Miller Paint was first in the market to convert our main line of interior products, ‘Acro,’ to a zero VOC product line in 1996. it has received rave reviews for its performance qualities. . . and demonstrate the company’s commitment to being an environmentally responsible manufacturer in the marketplace.” Most recently, Miller Paint started the move to FSC certified recycled content paper for their product literature. In their corporate offices and stores, Miller Paint recycles bottles, paper, cardboard and cans.

Miller Paint currently participates in two utility-based environmental programs: The Green Power program through PGE, which helps to fund renewable energy, and NW Natural’s Smart Energy program – a carbon-offset program that supports projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Miller Paint works directly with Metro, the directly elected regional government that serves more than 1.5 million residents in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties, as well as the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, to recycle unused or unwanted latex paint. Metro Paint is sold by Miller Paint. There is a great internal program for recycling and re-purposing latex paints into workable products. WOW!!!

Miller does have a palette of 15 new colors, the “Color Now” collection. They also feature a “color of the month” that’s in their ColorEvolution collection. Other paint companies use flowery marketing words and flashy advertising to sell their paint. But for a local gal whose family always used Miller Paint, this is what I recommend if you are thinking about updating your home’s colors. Here’s a link where you can get more information about Miller Paint colors: https://www.millerpaint.com/color-choice.html

New Topics #1: Homeowner Problems (and how to avoid them!)

Hiring A Contractor Without Checking License and References

I’m so grateful to homeowners for providing me with current topics to talk about! Last week, I had a meeting with a homeowner who told me that her husband hired a contractor to build a deck for them and didn’t bother to check the contractor’s license status or check references. You’re way ahead of me! Yes, the project went sideways, and the homeowners don’t have any way to get the deck fixed other than hire another contractor. She didn’t tell me how much money they paid for a lousy deck, but I’m guessing it was thousands of dollars. The bottom line? Always verify a contractor’s license, bonding, and insurance status. Ask for and check references!

Verbal Change Orders

Recent Topics: Change OrderI received an email from a client, telling me that the contractor verbally told her about change orders that amount to over $1,000. Change orders do happen, unfortunately. There’s at least one mystery story behind the walls in every home. Change orders (even small ones!) need to be detailed in writing before the work is done! Change orders should include:

  • Written description of the work to be done
  • Breakdown for materials with a subtotal
  • Breakdown for labor, including the number of hours
  • The markup or margin
  • Total for the change order

There should be a place for you to sign and date the change order. You should get a copy for your records and the contractor should keep a copy.

These incidents were a motivator for me to add more questions to the “Questions For and About Contractors and Designers” that’s available as a free download. Recently, clients confirmed that having and using the questions was a big help. Experience has proven time and again that honest communication and having up-front information will ultimately make your project go smoother, with fewer hassles and cost overruns.

Do you provide detailed written change orders for extra work before it’s done? (For contractors and designers)

Were detailed, written change orders given to you in writing before the work was done? (About contractors and designers)

New Topics #2: Why Hire A Kitchen Designer?

Last week, I received a link to a wonderful article in Better Homes & Gardens, “Why Hire A Kitchen Designer.” The article doesn’t specify, but the same information is true for bathroom design. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home and you’re on the fence about hiring a professional designer, this article will change your mind! I’ve been saying these same things, and more, for years. So good to read it from a reliable, trusted source!

After reading the article, I signed up to receive more information from BH&G, and learned that they have 11 sweepstakes for you to enter. The prizes are significant! For all of the sweepstakes, there are no purchases necessary, but you may get emails from the companies offering the prizes. That’s the way marketing works in today’s world!

In Conclusion:

Doing this “recent topics mashup” was fun! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and hope that it will help you.  Did you catch the difference in emphasis between Miller Paint and the other two companies?  Behr and Sherwin-Williams use sales-oriented words and phrases in advertising to evoke an emotional response to nature, relaxation and balance. But Miller actively practices all of these concepts with their commitment to make our world a better place, starting with employee owners who really care.

Podcast: Recent Topics — An Astounding Mashup For Homeowners!

Listen now!

The topics in this blog are all an important to what I do, to help you achieve a successful building or remodeling project. I’m here to help! Call me today to talk about your goals: 503-632-8801.

10 Awesome Remodeling Products For 2019

Ten awesome remodeling products are featured in this blog. Pro Remodeler recently listed 100 products, but most of them are for people in the construction industry, or products I’ve written about before. Honestly, the selections were disappointing. Maybe it’s the season, maybe it’s a sign of the times. I selected these to help you plan for an upcoming (or future) home improvement project.  There’s everything from appliances to plumbing, exterior products, and flooring.  Every one of these wonderful products will enhance your home and your lifestyle!

Unique Remodeling Product #1: New Color Introduced By Whirlpool Appliances

Whirlpool is touted as the No.1-rated appliance brand and used in three out of four homes, according to independent studies. Whirlpool brands, including Amana, Maytag, KitchenAid, and JennAir, provide a full range of major kitchen appliances. There’s versatility that gives you choice from multiple styles and colors across multiple price points. Many of the products are designed and manufactured to be compatible with other smart home features.

Whirlpool Kitchen Appliances in Sunset BronzeA full suite of Whirlpool kitchen appliances is available in the new Sunset Bronze,  a fingerprint-resistant brushed satin finish with subtle warm undertones that reflect natural light, delivering a soft glow. I hope that this color becomes popular with other manufacturers, just as black stainless steel has. I’m going to visit the local appliance showroom to see how the new Sunset Bronze looks with different woods and colors, and will report my findings to you. Whirlpool has  a wide selection of appliances in  Black Stainless and Stainless Steel, too.

Whirlpool gets an A+ for this new finish, but they get an F for showing a microwave over the cooktop or range. I’ve written about this before; it’s definitely a negative safety and function issue! https://www.whirlpool.com/kitchen.html

 Bosch Oven With Side-opening Door#2: Unusual Side-Opening Oven Improves Accessibility

A complete suite of kitchen appliances from Bosch delivers thoughtful details, such as the Benchmark series’ side-opening oven doors and flush installation. This is perfect for access by people with limited mobility. Various finishes are available for wall ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, and dishwashers, including the popular Black Stainless Steel. Manufacturers have listened to consumers about wanting finishes that guard against scratches and fingerprints. Bosch also offers small-scale appliances for apartments, ADUs, and other tight spaces. https://www.bosch-home.com/us/

Azek Deck Waterproofing ProductsAmazing Product #3: Capture And Use The Space Under A Deck!

Azek’s under-deck water management system definitely qualifies for a marvelously unique product! It’s available in white to help brighten under-deck areas. Ideal for second-story decks, the system channels water under the deck boards to a gutter and downspout. It’s a great idea! The “DrySpace” system can be used with Azek and TimberTech decking. Using it with natural wood decking or other brands of manufactured decking may negate any warranties. It’s best to check with the manufacturer before committing to use this product. Kits are available for 12-inch on-center spans in 12-foot lengths and for 16-inch on-center spans in 12- and 16-foot lengths. https://www.azek.com/

Cabinet-Tronix Exterior TV Lift

Stunning Product #4: Fantastic Exterior TV Lift System

With so many outdoor living spaces being created, it makes sense to have a TV as part of the ambiance.  A patio cover to protect the TV may not be possible, so what do homeowners do? Here’s a wonderfully unique system: a TV lift cabinet that’s meant for ourdoor use! Cabinet Tronix has introduced 10 handmade outdoor TV lift cabinet designs. There are multiple weatherproof material options for both the cabinet top and bottom, to seamlessly incorp­orate into a homeowner’s outdoor space. Materials include porcelain tile that mimics the look of wood, and Honey Natural Stacked Stone. Each cabinet is fitted with a TV lift system and backed by a 10-year warranty. The company also makes lift systems for interior use.  https://www.cabinet-tronix.com/

Strong-Tie Outdoor Accents

Extraordinary Product #5: Enhance A Pergola With Wonderful Accents

A pergola or pavilion can create an outdoor room while it enhances your garden. But the structural connectors have to look good as well as provide the long-lasting strength you need for safety. Simpson Strong-Tie, a longtime leader in structural connectors for contractors and engineers, has developed the “Outdoor Accents” system to provide both beauty and strength for outdoor projects using nominal and rough lumber sizes. The line features an innovative screw and washer combination that has the look of a traditional bolt but doesn’t require pre-drilling to ease installatio. The connectors also meet building codes for high-wind and seismic conditions. Available in a black powder-coated finish. https://www.strongtie.com/products/go/connectors/outdooraccents

Delta Magnificent Product #6: “Tesla” Plumbing

Delta’s “Tesla” Collection is a full line of bath (and kitchen) faucets that draws inspiration from organic forms found in nature. These marvelously unique products have a soft yet modern look that fits users’ hands for maximum control. They incorporate innovations that result in easier installation and better performance. Diamond Seal Technology reduces leak points and lasts twice as long as the industry standard for leak-free operation for the life of the faucet. The “Tesla” collection is available in chrome, polished nickel and stainless steel. https://www.deltafaucet.com/search-results?searchTerm=tesla&searchType=Delta_Products#resultPage=1&offset=0

Kohler Continuous-Clean ToiletsWonderful Product #7: Continuous-Cleaning Toilet Minimizes Your Effort

A housecleaning chore that everyone dislikes is scrubbing the toilet. Kohler has released its ContinuousClean technology, a system housed directly in the toilet tank. It automatically dispenses a consistent amount of toilet bowl cleaner with each flush. A three-step process keeps it simple: (1) Insert two puck-style toilet bowl cleaning tablets; (2) set the dial to the desired dispensing level; and (3) monitor the blue LED indicator light on the back of the tank to ensure the system is working. The light will turn red when it’s time for new tablets. The system houses the tablets in a reservoir separate from other toilet components to ensure that toilet performance is not affected. It operates on two AAA batteries, so no access to outlets is necessary. https://www.us.kohler.com/us/s?Ntt=continuous+clean&Ns=onSale%7C1%7C%7CP_is_AddToCart%7C1%7C%7Cnew_product_s%7C1

Cali Bamboo FlooringSpectacular Product #8: Fantastic Herringbone Bamboo Flooring

Cali Bamboo launched several new bamboo floors, including two—Riverwood (shown) and Outer Banks—made for herringbone-style installations. The other new floors are Savanna, Bordeaux, Bourbon Barrel, and Treehouse. All feature solid Fossilized bamboo construction, Cali’s proprietary manufacturing technique, which the firm says is the world’s hardest floors. Herringbone wood flooring is ideal for formal living rooms and dining rooms. The flooring is backed by a 50-year residential warranty and a 15-year commercial warranty. https://www.calibamboo.com/bamboo-flooring.html

California Faucets Hot-Cold DispenserImpressive Product #9: Cold-Hot Water Dispenser

California Faucets has added the Combination Hot and Cold Water Dispenser to its Kitchen Collection. It sports a single-handle design for a streamlined look. Homeowners may select a traditional or modern faucet body, and choose a handle from nearly a dozen options, ranging from traditional-style Porcelain Lever to contemporary Black Blade and Stick designs. Over 30 artisan finishes are available, one reason why California Faucets has always been a favorite manufacturer for my clients. Dispensers are solid brass and hand-finished at the firm’s U.S. factory. http://www.calfaucets.com/product/traditional-style-single-handle-combo-hot-and-cold-water-dispenser-9623-k10-xx

Elkay Farmhouse SinkImposing Product #10: Farmhouse Sink With Flexible Design

Elkay has unveiled the awesome Crosstown Stainless Steel Farmhouse Sink with Interchangeable Apron (shown). Homeowners may choose from a mix of seven different materials and colors, enabling them to change the apron in minutes for a new look to match the season or their own personal style. The company has also introduced its Quartz Luxe Single and Double Bowl Sink, available in metallic-flecked Silvermist or deep Jubilee colors to enliven any kitchen. http://www.elkay.com/farmhouse

In Conclusion:

I hope these ten awesome remodeling products inspire  and help you as you make product choices for your  home.  If you see any products that you’d like to share, please let me know with a comment (below). You can also send me an email: diane@dp-design.com.

“Today’s Home” Podcast: Ten Awesome Remodeling Products for 2019

Product research is one of the many things I love, to help you make informed decisions. Contact me today! Let’s talk about what you want to achieve!

The Exciting World of Color Revealed

The Exciting World Of Color Revealed

Color: we’re surrounded by it every waking moment. Sometimes we dream in color. As I sit here, looking out the window, I see hundreds, maybe thousands of different green hues, and a beautiful blue sky with cotton-ball clouds. Color is something we take for granted, unless we lose our sight. The 1965 movie “A Patch of Blue” had a big impact on me in many ways. It’s about a young woman, Selina D’Arcey, who’d tragically lost her eyesight at the age of five and remembered colors, especially the color of the sky. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend that you rent or buy it.

How We See ColorHow Do We See The Exciting World of Color?

I’m not going to belabor the physics of color. We’ve got a lot of information to cover! As I said during last week’s podcast, it’s impossible to see color without light. In a technical paper, Pantone says, “Light receptors within the eye transmit messages to the brain, which produces the familiar sensations of color. Newton observed that color is not inherent in objects. Rather, the surface of an object reflects some colors and absorbs all the others. We perceive only the reflected colors.” Statistically, 1 in 8 men and 1 in 200 women has color vision deficiency. My husband is red-green deficient, which means he should never try to pick ripe strawberries or raspberries, and I have to help him read the colors on resistors when he’s building electronics.

Experts say that we can see about 1000 levels of light-dark, 100 levels of red-green, and 100 levels of yellow-blue for a single viewing condition in a laboratory. This means that the total number of colors we can see is about 1000 x 100 x 100 = 10,000,000 (10 million).

Color Theory

Amazon lists over 50,000 books about color for all ages plus 25 professions that rely on color. Color theory is the art and science of using color. It includes how colors mix, match, and contrast, as well as what each particular hue communicates. Color is really about perception, and how it’s interpreted by our minds. Most of us have fascination about color, how it can affect us physically and psychologically. We can see a single color and react to it, but it’s different colors and their relationship to each other, color harmonies and the color wheel, that affect us most. Color theory is the basis to find the ideal combinations.

Color WheelThe Color Wheel and Color Harmonies

The color wheel dates back to 1666, when Isaac Newton mapped the color spectrum into a circle. This color wheel is the basis for understanding the relationships between colors.

When colors complement each other well, they are said to be in harmony. Using the rules of color combination, captivating harmonies are established. There are several color combinations that professionals use to create and enhance our built environment, including:

Complementary: Matching two colors on opposites sides of the color wheel for high contrast, allowing each color to seem brighter when used together; red-green, blue-orange, yellow-purple. These combinations are often seen at holidays.
Split Complementary: Matching a color with colors on either side of the complementary color: yellow with red-purple and blue purple.
Monochromatic: Different values of the same color, light to dark.
Analogous: Colors that are side by side on the color wheel; for the best combinations, it’s best to use one dominant color with at least two accents
Triadic: hues evenly spaced on the color wheel for high contrast, but not as intense as complementary; yellow with blue and red, green with purple and orange.
Tetradic: using four shades evenly spaced on the color wheel; again, for the best combinations, choose one dominant and three accents. Example: yellow-orange with red-violet, blue-violet, and yellow-green

Munsell Color TreeProfessional Tools To Create The Exciting World Of Color

The color system I’ve used for over 35 years was developed by Professor Albert H. Munsell in 1912. It’s based on a three-dimensional model depicted in the Munsell color tree. Each color has three qualities or attributes:

Hue – the color name such as red, orange, yellow, etc.
Value – the lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of a color
Chroma – the saturation or brilliance of a color . When complementary colors are mixed in equal amounts, the resulting color is gray.

An alternative color system is Pantone. I’ve used their graphic system for printed material and my website that cross-reference colors with red-green-blue or hex codes. And I’ve used their fashion system for home interiors, although the selection of pastel and very light colors is severely limited. Fortunately, I can find the Pantone color in a manufacturer’s fan deck that has the darkest shade to the lightest tint of that color.

Every year, Pantone selects one color to be the “color of the year.” For 2019, they chose “Living Coral,” which they describe with superior marketing words so consumers cannot live without its deliciousness. Professionally, I don’t care what color name is given to a color. What really matters is helping my clients find the right colors for their environment.

When I was attending design school, I learned about the Ameritone “Color Key” system that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the company was bought out and the system was discontinued. But it made a lot of sense at the time. Color Key 1 colors were blue-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except orange. Color Key 2 colors were yellow-based. The fan deck contained every color possible except pink. I still have the fan decks and the paraphernalia, in case anyone ever brings back the Color Key system. They’re now 39 years old!

Colorful Paint CansColor Names Are For Consumers

Picking a paint color to roll onto the walls of your home can be tough—so many hues to choose from! And it’s not just about the color. A paint color’s name matters, too. Years ago, a client asked me, “Can my new master bathroom be painted ‘pongee’?” She knew what she was thinking about, a silk that can vary from almost white to tan with a hint of gray. At that time, none of the paint manufacturers had “pongee” as a specific color. I replied, “Sure, I can come up with colors that blend with ‘pongee,’ but you’ll have to provide me with a sample.” She did, and we found countertops, tile, and wall paint that she loved; it was a monochromatic color scheme.

I’ve always imagined people sitting around a big conference table, looking at paint chips and tossing out the first name that comes to mind. But a lot of thought and deliberation goes into picking the right name to describe each hue. It’s serious business. Paint companies employ color specialists, and review studies and test group results to craft not only the colors they make, but also the names they give to each.

Color names play with our emotions, because these feelings get us to purchase the paint. I try to hide the names on the back of color chips, but my clients always turn the chips over to see the name. I’ve had many clients change their mind, even when I knew a color was perfect for their home, because the name had negative connotations for them. “If you love a color and you connect with the name, then that’s a bonus,” says Dee Schlotter, Pittsburg Paint’s senior color marketing manager.

Color experts are bringing up color associations we all have to things in the world, which trigger a mood. Sales of paint totals an estimated $30 billion annually. Because there are dozens of paint lines to choose from, you can understand how competitive the industry is and why naming paint colors is serious business for manufacturers. “Names can typically be sorted into four descriptive categories: visual, geographical, emotional, and experiential,” says Diana Olvera, Behr’s color marketing manager.

70s Earth Tones Color SchemeThe Exciting World of Color: Trends

We all succumb to the influence of trends, but the most obvious one is color. You can paint your walls with Pantone’s “Living Coral” this year, and Pantone’s new color of the year next year, and so on. Paint is one of the least expensive and most dramatic ways to change your home, inside and out. Choosing the right color is a big challenge for homeowners, because there are thousands of choices from each of the ten major paint manufacturers. This is probably why we give in to color trends, because it makes our decision a little easier.

Can you remember the:

Psychedelic colors of the ’60s?
Earth tones of the ’70s (harvest gold, avocado green and coppertone appliances)?
Southwestern look of the ’80s?
Dirtied colors of Seattle’s “grunge” movement in the early 1990s, or the reactionary lime green and chartreuse in the mid-1990s?
Minimalist movement that began at the end of the 1990s led by “Cerulean Blue”?

The minimalist influence continued into – and past – 2000. Neutral colors, mostly tints and shades of beige, were popular, accented by bright jewel-tone colors. 2010 began the popularity of cool gray that’s still fashionable today. While gray may be with us longer, it’s becoming warmer and more livable as a background color for other more vibrant colors. I’m always concerned when clients choose a trendy color scheme for their kitchens and bathrooms, because trends will change. Gradually, the love they have for their newly-remodeled home will become dissatisfaction, leading to another major renovation. I guess that’s what keeps us in business!

The allure of color has long been a fascination in the home remodeling world. While you may walk into a room and think that the colors were randomly chosen, that’s not the case. Many color choices are made because of personal preference, but when it comes to combining colors, much more thought and care are taken, to align the colors, lighting, and textures with color theory.

Color In Your Home

Color is vital in the design of a space, bringing it to life and telling a story. There are so many opportunities to use color in rooms. While walls offer the most obvious canvas, there are many other ways to demonstrate the power of colors within a space. Color can be added to cabinets, countertops, appliances, fixtures, furniture, accents, and more. Thus, when beginning the design of a space, it’s a good idea to start with a color palette. Most designers agree that starting with three colors is ideal. You can use the 60-30-10 rule to break down how the colors will exist in the space:

Dominant color = 60%

Secondary color = 30%

Accent color = 10%

For contrast and emphasis, consider the blend of both warm and cool hues. For example, choose a warm shade like yellow alongside a cool color like blue, and vice-versa. A good rule of thumb is to use different values of tints and shades, light and dark, balancing the ambiance of a space.

Color has a significant influence on a space and those within it, so choosing just the right colors for a design is critical to its success. Another rule of thumb is to pay attention to the compass direction of a room. Use warm colors sparingly in south- and west-facing rooms, and use cool colors sparingly in north- and east-facing rooms. Adjusting the color for the light conditions is an important part of creating a livable environment.

How color changes visual spaceAccent Walls Change How A Room Looks

From time to time, accent walls return to popularity. This must be done carefully, to achieve the results you want. The apparent proportion of a room can be changed with color, if you keep in mind that warm, dark colors seem to advance while cool, light colors seem to recede. If you have a “bowling alley” room that’s long and slender with a ceiling that’s under 8′, then the end wall could be painted in a warmer, darker color with the side walls painted in a cooler, lighter color. The ceiling should be the lightest, coolest color. To achieve maximum results, indirect up-lighting can make the ceiling feel even taller.

Color Branding and PsychologyColor Is the Top Reason Why People Choose Products

The brain operates rapidly, identifying whether what you see is visually appealing or not within 90 seconds! And in that 90 seconds, much of the focus is based on color. Product and brand designers pay attention to and use colors they know will attract our attention. Yellow and red are the colors you see most often on products that the manufacturers want you to buy now. They’ll also use contrasting complementary colors that seem to vibrate: red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple.

Think about the brands you know. How does the color of their logo (or packaging) impact you?

Color Psychology ChartPsychology: Expanding Our Understanding And Use Of Color

The subject of color psychology could be a topic for several months of podcasts and blogs! Wikipedia defines color psychology as “the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. For example, red or orange pills are generally used as stimulants. Color can indeed influence a person. Factors such as gender, age, and culture can influence how an individual perceives color.”

Color psychology is used to understand why we like and select certain colors and dislike or stay away from others. It’s our reaction to a specific hue that’s the goal of research. It can include what I call psychobabble, that delves into colors and personality types made popular by the “Color Me Beautiful” system. At first, I was enamored with this system, because it seemed to be an extension of the Ameritone Color Key system of cool vs. warm colors. In my opinion, though, it went too far, plugging people into personality types of the seasons. This theory puts us at the edge of a very slippery slope. It’s light entertainment that I don’t take seriously, but will never judge someone or argue with their beliefs.

Although I own 7 books about color psychology, I came across a great article online that everyone can understand, from Very Well Mind. It’s long, with lots of information about color psychology and many links. If this is a subject that interests you, I highly recommend that you read the article.

You may know that correctional institutions and inmates’ clothing is pink. Why? it was discovered several years ago that this color, although a tint of red, has a calming effect on officers and inmates. Here’s an article that will explain it why pink is so popular. Also, there’s a reason why doctors and nurses wear light green or blue scrubs. Here’s an article that explains how and why.

Finally, I came across a research paper that demonstrates how colors were chosen for a university student commons in Nicosia, Cypress. It’s not exactly light reading, but fascinating – especially if you’re interested in color psychology.

In this blog and podcast, I’ve shared 35 years of training and experience so that you understand your wonderful world of color and find the courage to experiment. Are there other subjects you’d like me to explore in depth? Please let me know!

Podcast: The Exciting World of Color Revealed!

If you are anxious about selecting colors as an important part of your home addition, bathroom or kitchen remodel, I can help you! Call me today to talk about your goals!