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Thursday, Sept. 16, 2010 07:52 pm

Interior design tips from HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder By Sharon Mosley


Ban the beige! That’s the message from designer Genevieve Gorder for do-it-yourself home decorators this fall. The star of HGTV’s popular “Dear Genevieve” makeover show, Gorder also transformed the homes of desperate design-deprived viewers on TV’s “Trading Spaces” earlier in her career.  She can turn a dingy laundry into an elegant foyer and create a happening family room out of a dark basement. We asked her to share advice for homeowners who want to turn their homes from blah beige boxes into stylish havens.   

Ban the beige.

“Everyone seems to live in beige and cream,” Gorder says. “Paint is one of the least expensive ways to transform a house, and it’s very easy to change if you don’t like it.”  This year, gray is Gorder’s new go-to neutral.

Don’t over-think.

“Fear” is one of the biggest obstacles most homeowners face when it comes to starting design projects in their homes. Before you buy that first can of paint, stop, look and listen to your room.  “Ask yourself a series of questions, like how do I want to feel in this room? How do I want to move through this room? Where is the light coming from?”  The answers will lead you to the tone / style you’re after.

Design is personal.

“Seventy-five to 80 percent of decorating is emotional,” she says. “But it’s not rocket science. It’s the one environment in our lives that we can control. Hey, you can always return that sofa if you don’t like it!”

Get creative.

“Look past the home improvement stores and give your home your own personal touch. It needs to make you feel good and reflect the things you care about.”


Use the resources at your fingertips.

“There are no excuses anymore with the availability of the Internet.” There are hundreds of websites where you can find beautifully decorated rooms, find color combinations and fresh design ideas as well as great furniture and accessories.

Keep it personal.

The designer says. “Create what I call ‘pauses,’” she says. “Put together vignettes of personal items that make you stop and pause to look at them, whether it’s a group of family photos on your front entry table or a piece of art under a glass cloche in a bookshelf. Tell a story about yourself.”

Mix old and new.

“It’s great to mix vintage and modern pieces,” says Gorder, whose kitchen in her 1850 Manhattan Italianate brownstone features a 1903 “science lab” cabinet and limestone countertops salvaged from an old school building. “Look for architectural salvage pieces to incorporate into your designs with newer furniture for a very eclectic interior.”

Keep evolving your style.

“There are lots of things you can do to update your rooms,” Gorder says. “Accessories are very inexpensive and can give you instant impact with just a change of a wonderful piece of sculpture on a table, a $10 bouquet of fresh flowers in your kitchen or a few new throw pillows for your sofa. Accessories are like last-minute additions of jewelry to your outfit.”

“Concentrate on making your home a beautiful place,” she says. “After all, it’s a refuge.” 


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