Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spike that room

From page HS4 | December 06, 2013 |

This time of year, I have eggnog on the brain and soon, perhaps, also on the hips. But the big question when considering a holiday beverage is not how fattening is it? But is it spiked?

One way is good; the other, well, can be extra good — if you go easy!

The same holds true for rooms, which are also better spiked. That is, along with having all the right ingredients — a sure color scheme, proper scale, varied textures, good balance, and well-placed lighting — they have a splash of a little something unexpected. A touch of wow, mmmm, I like that.

The right room spike can transform a space that’s nice in an OK way into a room you remember, a space that makes you say, “Oh!”

In my home, I shoot for such moments when I slip a cowhide rug unexpectedly under a carved French desk, place a spicy orange silk pillow on a gray microsuede sofa and prop a silver lamé teddy bear on my teenage daughter’s bed.

Teddy bears don’t wear lamé, which is exactly what makes the shiny bear a spike. A fuzzy brown teddy would be merely an accessory — eggnog straight. The lamé is the rum in the punch.

And we all know what happens when you have too much. A room with too many spikes gives visitors a visual hangover, the way an over-stimulating trip to the toy store can make good kids cry.

Think of a room spike like a fashion spike: If you’re wearing a little black dress, the spike can be red lipstick. But if you add red shoes, too, you’ve blown it.

It’s like I tell my college-age daughters, who are gearing up for holiday parties and can pull off any fashion: “You can wear tight. You can wear short. And you can wear low-cut, but you can’t wear it all at once. Pick ONE.”

Take home: Spike with restraint. Use one spike per room.

Besides being tastefully and judiciously applied, successful spikes must fall on the right backdrop or they backfire.  First, the whole room must cohere. Then, look over the context and ask what would add an element of sass, maybe break a little rule, show a little moxie.

This week, I asked a few of my favorite designers to share their favorite wow moments, their decorating equivalent of a little rum in the punch. Here’s how they said they’ve recently spiked an already well-dressed room:

  • Holiday sparkle. Over the holidays, Dallas-based designer Betty Lou Phillips, author of many best-selling design books, loves putting “fabulous-looking mercury glass Christmas trees” on the dining table where “they’re the perfect table centerpiece,” she says. The trio of trees, each stylized differently, vary in height (from 10 to 12 inches), and cost $35 to $75 each.
  • Bring on the bling. Karlie Adams, of Karlie Anne Interiors in Denver, likes a little sparkle with her distressed wood. “Even in our rustic Colorado designs, I’m using a little bling, a contemporary crystal chandelier married with a rustic stone fireplace or glass knobs on wood shaker cabinets.”
  • A room that roars, but softly. Interior designer Elaine Griffin of New York loves her leopard print. “Every room needs a touch of black and a touch of yellow, and a well-done leopard print is where the two meet brilliantly,” she says. “Uber-style icon Diana Vreeland adored it  and so do I, especially as a super-chic throw pillow.”
  • Find a fabulous fixture. Designer Katie Leede, owner of Digs By Katie of New York recently hung a 36-inch wide patina metal light fixture shaped like an exotic flower in a guest room. The “Flower of the Forest” chandelier, by Stefanie Odegard, drops its verdigris metal “petals,” which resemble large talons, from the ceiling in a showy spray. “It’s a dramatic wowzer that manages to work with the nature motifs running throughout the room — without overwhelming,” says Leede. The room with the fab fixture features a watery, earthy color scheme, wallpaper featuring papyrus plants (Leede’s own design) and artwork of birds and rock gardens.

You get where I’m going. Now, please pass the preferably spiked eggnog. Cheers.

Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through





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