Jessica Lagrange Interiors LLC

For 2017: Our 17 Favorite Decorating Secrets and 1 for Good Luck

Everyone has an opinion on holiday gifts--and we do, too. They should be interesting, inspirational and hopefully—a little useful. But wouldn't it be better if they could also bring a touch of luxury to our lives?  But finding gifts with all these qualities isn’t easy. As interior designers, we see it all and find it daunting to choose from the many wonderful artist- and artisan-made objects we come across.

(Image: Pottery Barn)

Then, there’s the social responsibility part of the equation, which takes the form of “this holiday season, give the gift of…time, thoughtfulness, compassion, forgiveness" and so on.

We’ve decided to embrace the idea of giving something meaningful and less material this year, yet definitely still practical. After all, who doesn't already have too much stuff?  So as a holiday treat, we focused on giving a gift that meets the parameters above, right down to taking quite a bit of thought and time: our 17 favorite decorating secrets to mark the coming year of 2017—plus one for good luck.

These decorating secrets are carefully curated, and focus on adding comfort, style and luxury even to the most humble spaces in our homes.  Best of all, they will delight the ‘eye’ and nurture aesthetic spirit souls.

Team JLI’s Best Decorating Secrets for 2017

1. Be bold with wallpaper in unexpected places. Think hallways, powder rooms, foyers, ceilings, even the wall behind a bed. Select an unexpected color or pattern, not the quaint flowers your grandmother favored unless she was a hipster ahead of her time. We think original inspired artworks from nature and made by Brooklyn-based artist Shanan Campanaro are one grand solution.

2. Fake height in a room with low furniture.  According to the National Building Code, the standard ceiling height is 96 inches, or eight feet. But that doesn't leave much room for most of the dramatic lighting fixtures--chandeliers and pendants--we gravitate to by favorite artisans. Many look best in our clients' historic homes with nine or ten foot heights. To make any room feel taller, we go counter-intuitive and pair them with low-slung sofas, the kind that inspire restful sprawling.

Layer take:  Hanging one mirror on top of another amplifies the visual impact and ups the output of the dazzling decorative lighting in a master bathroom that functions as a boudoir. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

3. Magnify a space with mirrors. Adding one mirror is old hat but using multiples is what's new. To keep entire walls from looking like a business instead of a home, think in multiples. A grouping of individual mirrors can be set in different but related frames or the glass can be antiqued, gilded, or given a smoky finish.  Group them together to reflect a fabulous chandelier or outdoor view rather than something simply functional, like a doorframe.

4. Go oversized in small spaces.  Rather than use trim pieces in a tight space or small room, we often do the opposite. A pair of deep chairs with an exaggerated silhouette and graceful arms can feel luxurious and roomy, make a major statement and keep the space from feeling cramped.

Pool Appeal:  A little pooling goes a long way at the base of proper drapes, lending them a huge dose of “je ne sais quoi” charm. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

5. Have drapery graze the floor. We go down to the floor—and then some—so the material pools out luxuriously. That extra half-inch or even one-inch translates into sumptuous grandeur with nothing spared. And we always line our drapes for privacy and a more substantial, hand-tailored look. They also wear better.

6. Use the best paint possible. Paint is the easiest, fastest and most lasting way to change a mood. With brushstrokes of color we can take a room from somber to lighthearted, festive and definitely luxurious.  But our choice of paint--the right ingredients and chemical makeup--makes a world of difference and is the crux of what makes paint a great change artist, so we always opt for the best primer and paint. Our favorite is C2 Luxe Paint. No shortcuts here.

Match point: There’s much more aesthetic allure furnishings that are creatively mixed rather than fastidiously matched. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

7. Mix, don’t match. Forget the old rules about arranging all symmetrically, going with one style and never mixing silver, gold or brass in the same room. Any of these adages ends up looking boring--and monotonous. Instead, we like to mix things up by focusing on one choice--maybe nickel or bronze, then adding in some newly chic brass in a lamp, hardware, dangling pots or even tiles for a gleaming, personalized look that exudes greater character and decorative dazzle.

8. Never line seating up against a wall. Pulling it in just a few inches or even one foot yields the feeling of more breathing space and graciousness, but also makes for more intimate conversation groupings. The leftover empty space offers a much more comfortable path all around and to other rooms.

Border control:  Downsize the carpet in a narrow hall; room around the walls adds grace and expands the space. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

9.  Don't carpet wall-to-wall in a narrow hall.  We like to use a runner and leave a border on both sides, and also leave room at both ends. The hall will appear wider and be so much more welcoming and visually captivating.  

10. Luxe it up with gold bullion trim. A little goes a long way to connote luxury, and add the right finishing touch. We like to trim ottomans, pillows, billowy drapes, even lampshades on foyer sconces for a fashionable entry. Depending on the scale and fabric of what's being trimmed, we might go more lavish, while other times we know it’s best to be moderate.

Food for thought:  Drama, interest, intrigue and intellect coalesce in a tower of power when you choose the right books to put on view. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

11. Group your books. We find a handsome run of leather-bound volumes or ones in a riot of colorful covers add instant warmth or smiles in any gathering space, be it living rooms, dining rooms,  libraries or even kitchens.  Vary book heights and arrange some in a stack with their spines turned outward, and voila! –you have an instant ice breaker: What have you read of late (or any great recipes you can recommend if it’s kitchen talk)?

Surprise! Something wondrous to shake up the status quo works every time. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

12. Surprise with whimsy. Everyone wants a good laugh now and then, and the visual equivalent is something unexpected--a hanging Calder-style red chandelier or red window frames, a green lacquer door coordinated with a funky upholstered chair beyond or an oversized sculpture that starts conversation (exactly what is that?).

13. Layer a room in textures--sparingly. Having only one type of surface--smooth (as silk) makes for a one-dimensional visual expanse and dearth of tactile warmth., Adding texture, such as something rough (think sisal carpets or twigs in a vase), luxuriously rich (like velvety upholstery) or warm and nubby like a hand-knitted wool throw with fringe, has an exponential impact on improving the way a space looks, feels and lives. But we also know to avoid too much variety--the visual equivalent of too many spices in a single recipe. Moderation is key.

14. Up the period quotient. Because we don't want to live in a museum or any place too staid, we veer from having everything from one era or even decade. A comfy 20th century leather chair atop an antique Oriental rug with a Victorian billiards table close by demonstrates how to make such pairings work despite their provenances being centuries apart.

Bank Account:  A sliver of a ledge offers exponential returns when it’s transformed into a cushy banquette just outside a wine cellar. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

15. Bank on banquettes. They’re back—and far more sophisticated than the version in the neighborhood diner. They usually take less space than chairs, which makes them ideal in tight spaces. But their real appeal is that there's nothing more fun than cozying up on a banquette. We like to upholster the seat and back in luxurious textiles of every type (from brocades and mohair to textured skins) and might even use a mix of patterns for some high-end fun.

16. Entertain with gusto. Flex your entertaining chops and style with utility and brilliance with a coffee station to brew bespoke espresso drinks, a state-of-the-art wine cooler to properly store and age your private stash and a steam oven that's our ode to healthier eating (and promises to be 2017’s biggest culinary star).

Right the fire:  Get no fuss and no muss—but the same welcome heat and mood-making warmth— with new alternatives to logs. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

17. Snap, crackle--and pop! Log-burning fireplaces are definitely passé given the heat it produces and sends literally right up the chimney, but we know we can achieve the same glowing embers and added warmth with a gas-burning or alcohol-gel unit that makes any room a luxurious place to huddle and cuddle.

18. Swell smells. We like to use all our senses and change up what we smell and see each season of the year--berry branches or winter honeysuckle in winter, tulips and daffodils come spring, roses and peonies in summer and anemones and dried grasses in fall. Right now we're favoring arrangements in gleaming metal containers rather than clear glass. 

13 Dec 2016

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