San Francisco Interior Design

Picking the Best Paint Color for Your Home or Business

Ah yes, picking paint colors. Some peoples favorite thing to do and others worst nightmare.

How does one go about doing this so you are internally beaming and not brimming with frustration while watching your budget dwindle?

It would be great if we all understood color theory however, it is an art within its self and is usually reserved for the fine art painters and illustrators of the world.

We have to start somewhere, so how about understanding if you like cool colors or warm colors.  Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included. Cool colors are often said to be hues from blue green through blue violet, most grey's included.

Cool colors are to the left and warm colors are to the right.

Cool colors are to the left and warm colors are to the right.


One of my "go to" paint manufacturers is Benjamin Moore mainly due to the fact that they have a huge selection of colors. These colors are primarily separated into two decks which represent warm tones/hues named Classic Colors and the cool tones/hues named Color Preview.

Once you have located about four to five options (yes I'm serious!) of the paint color you desire, order large cards or samples from the manufactures web site or the paint supplier in your area. So just to clarify, some times these cards are approximately  3.5"x6.5"  and is pre-colored by the manufacturer.  Some times the card samples are referred to as draw down cards, which you or your local paint store can paint the sample of paint onto. The supplier should sell these "cards" and you can make your own large sample on them. Use multiple coats of paint to resemble the coverage and sheen you are seeking. Here is the link to order the larger pre colored cards through Benjamin Moore.

Images of larger Paint Cards/Chips.

Images of larger Paint Cards/Chips.


The next step is to place 1 card of the same color, on each wall and view it throughout the day into the night with all different types of lighting.  This will show you how the color reads or looks in your interior/exterior. 

I know a lot of designers who purchase little pints of paint and paint the samples or swatches up on the wall of the project.  It is risky to do this for many reasons : 1. you might need a tinted primer if you are using a saturated color to reach the actual paint sample color 2. usually only one wall is utilized 3. you will need the paint of the original color of the wall, if you decide on nothing. 4. If there is a tint on the wall which you are painting your sample, it will change the sample color due to the hue of the paint underneath and more importantly, next to the new color.  With multiple card samples in different areas, you will be able to make a decision.

Okay, you did take all of my advice and you have selected a color.  Now you are ready for all prep to take place and finally paint... Hallelujah!

Window Treatments: The D.Y.I. perscription

We lovers of design always appreciate a beautiful window treatment. But, how does one go about accomplishing this fantasy drapery design on your own? After practicing the art of window treatments AND installation for over 20 years, I will share with you how it's done.... and well.

First: Design-start with a very clear image of the design you would like to create and install.  And and ask yourself if this design will "work" with the style of home or business that you have. If you don't know what your design might be, you will need a great reference book to get the creative juices flowing. I like to use The New Curtain Book by Stephanie Hoppen. Located inside are photographs of clean and simple shades, all the way up to the most elaborately hand embroidered, smocked taffeta, 25 foot drapery installations fit for a Saudi King.  

Second: Functionality-  Ask yourself, will it "preform" the way I need it too? To determine this performance factor, answer the following questions: Do you need to let light in or out? Do you need privacy? Do you need to manage the temperature of the room with the curtain? How big will the curtain(s) need to be? How will these window coverings operate? And lastly, what will the physical weight be of the final installation be including hardware?

Third: Textile/material selection- If you are dealing with Sunlight, and most of you are, you would need to select materials that can withstand a certain amount of light. Have you ever seen what sunlight does to fabric, leather, and wood? Basically it bleaches then it deteriorates it. Silk will be the first to be destroyed by sunlight. I've seen silk sheers look like a cat snuck in and decided to sharpen it's claws on it after being hung in a window with out UV protection. If you insist on having delicate materials in your design, then you must treat the windows with a UV coating, or just plan on replacing them every 1-2 years. I like to use a 3M product to accomplish the UV coating on my clients windows. If you don't know anything about fabrics and how they preform, take a look at this link for Textiles.

Fourth: Hardware selection- Select a rod, finial, rings, hooks, tieback, and brackets, that hold enough weight of your new drapery design, while complimenting the existing hardware in the room. There are retailers that sell hardware as well as wholesalers. The latter will have a wider range of product selection, and detailed weight loads, and installations recommendations. Many say that the hardware of the room is the proverbial "jewelry" of the room. Don't skimp in this area! Here is a link with general rules of thumb of how to determine your hardware installation. The Bradley Collection hardware is one of my favorites and is sold in San Francisco through Donghia at the SF Design Center. You will need a designer or purchasing service to access this, and if you don't want to go that route, West Elm has some easy and simple designs.

Fifth: Installation- The weight of the drapery design adds up. Make sure to do the math on this. You will need to locate and install your bracket (that suspends the rod) in a stud.  If your walls lack a stud in the area you need the bracket, have a contractor install corner blocking in the wall to support and suspend your amazing design. If you don't do this, there is a great chance that the rod or pole hung with drapery will come tumbling down. There are professional window covering installers, and I highly recommend that you use them. I like to use Michael's Installations in the San Francisco Bay area.  

And lastly, always install the rods and brackets the same day you install the drapes. Do not install the brackets before the drapery has been delivered to the job site. Many times the drapery length or width has changed during the sewing process and your floors and windows are not level. This can instantly throw off the installation and become a huge headache for all of the trades involved.  I have seen wool drapery shrink or lengthen due to temperature.  Once hung, a local seamstress can come out to your projects site and hand hem the drapery during its suspension.  

Salon Style Art Hanging

Salon Style Art hanging has become quite the rage in interior design.  It helps one portray lots of information and memories on one wall. The key to this art installation is setting up your composition and THEN swinging the hammer. Not the other way around.

How to do this, is by taking the size of the wall space, and measuring off another area so that one can lay down all of the objects. You can use the floor or a large table, and move them around in groupings until a balanced pattern emerges. To keep it simple you can use your largest piece as the center piece and build a pattern around that with medium sized frames and objects, working your way to the smallest pieces, which will be on the outside of the pattern you have created.

Savvy retailers like West Elm have created a Salon Style Art wall with frames one can purchase in all different sizes and then install like the image of the layout which is provided. They are calling them Gallery Frames