Design Tips from Wendy Blackband of Blackband Design


Decorating your home is exciting, but it can also be a little overwhelming and daunting.  Orange County designer Wendy Blackband of Blackband Design is giving us a series of tips to help make the process manageable, fun and successful, allowing you to create a home you love to live in.


Lights! Accessories! Artwork! These elements give your room its unique character and interest … but be careful, because they also provide the most room for error. With accessories, there’s a fine line between just enough and too much. You’ll want to have enough pieces that the room looks “finished,” but if you go overboard you’ll have clutter and a lack of focus – it’s really an art form to get it right. Keep scale in mind, and choose pieces that are substantial enough to fill a space.  Determine whether one large piece or a group of graduated sizes will work best.  Accessories can be a great way to introduce color, such as a blue and white porcelain piece, or a green topiary, which will also create some height. Bring in some of the outdoors, too, with a piece of coral or driftwood. Don’t be tempted to go to the china hutch and take out all your wedding gifts for display – save the salad bowl for salad!


Lighting serves two purposes in a room. It is functional, and also aesthetic. Go back again to how you will use the room. Recessed lighting may the best solution for illuminating the space (don’t forget the dimmers!), but add some beautiful lamps even if you don’t need the light.  A blue and white porcelain lamp on a sofa end table adds height, color and elegance.


Artwork is probably the most difficult element, even for designers, because it is so subjective. There is so much bad art out there, and it can be tricky to distinguish between the cheesy and the cool. Even when you are designing a space yourself, you might want to hire a designer, or at least consult with a trusted friend, for help in this area. Look at the walls you need to address, decide what size and shape will work there, and then begin your search. First rule – stay away from the swap meet!   Instead, consider attending a showing for a local college or art school. Find a young artist you like and buy a few pieces. Second rule – family portraits do not need to go on every wall. Designate one wall or area for a portrait gallery.  Additional photos can be displayed in an album placed on a coffee table. Third rule – art is not just pictures on the wall. It can be dimensional, such as sculptures, baskets or pottery from your travels. Or it could be as simple as a piece of cool fabric framed and hung. Don’t be tempted to buy only what “matches” or is part of your “theme.” Mix things up, create some intrigue and some contrast, and give your walls an eclectic touch that will make an interesting and beautiful design statement.