5 questions to ask yourself before you hire an interior designer

You’ve been thinking about it…you’ve talked to your friends…you’ve been tooling around on the Internet looking at different designers’ websites…

You’re ready to live in an outrageously beautiful home. You’re ready to hire an interior designer.

Before you start making calls, though, I suggest asking yourself the following 5 questions. Having run my interior design business for 11 years (!), I know they’ll help prepare you for the adventure ahead.

Pink and orange upholstered bench

Manuel Canovas at Cowtan & Tout

1. Why do I want to change how my home looks and feels?

Why? What’s driving this pursuit of domestic fabulousness? Is the reason simple: your wall colors are bumming you out? Have your children gone off to college, and you want to re-think their bedrooms? Has your home never felt right to you? Do you simply need a change in your life? Any and all reasons are legit.

Yellow and orange living room with toile and matching sofas

Century Furniture

2. How many people would I like my home to accommodate?

A mundane but important question. How many people do you want to be able to seat in the living room? How many people eat breakfast at the kitchen table? When you have dinner parties, how large are they?

Gray and pink Living Room with toile drapes

Alessandra Branca for Schumacher

3. In designing your home, What are the three things you value most: beauty, style (as in, being stylish), quality, durability, budget, trend-setting, your time, convenience, etc.? 

Answering this question will help you choose the right designer. Some specialize in child- and pet-resistant spaces. Some are budget decorators who will “design on a dime.” If you have a demanding job, you need a full-service firm — a turnkey operation that can handle every aspect of the design and implementation process.

Purple and red Foyer with console table

Century Furniture

4. How much money am I willing to invest in my home right now?

I can’t overstate the importance here. Your designer will ask you this question, and you should have an honest answer at the ready. Otherwise, your designer is giving you her best guess of what you’re comfortable spending.

If you’re saying to yourself, “How do I know what my investment level is before I know how much things cost?” email admin [at] bossycolor [dot] com and we’ll send you our Estimated Cost of Home Furnishings Worksheet. (That really needs a catchier name, doesn’t it?) It will give you an idea of how much it can cost to furnish different types of rooms top to bottom.

Lavender and blue bedroom

Jane Churchill for Cowtan & Tout

5. How will a redesigned home impact my life?

Dream a little. What will your life look like if you have an outrageously beautiful home that reflects your taste and life experiences? Will you entertain more frequently? Will you be energized? Will you feel more at peace?

I hope these questions are helpful, Gentle Readers. Go forth and bossify!

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people — starting with color.

Bossy color’s 2015 color of the year: BRIGHT NAVY

Happy New Year, Gentle Readers! I’m going to begin 2015 with a declaration: BOSSY COLOR’S COLOR OF THE YEAR FOR 2015 IS BRIGHT NAVY.

Dark navy blue tiled bathroom

Design by bossy color, photo by Michael K. Wilkinson

I don’t usually have a color of the year, but this year is different.

It’s been several weeks since the announcement that “Marsala,” (18-1438, for those keeping track) is Pantone’s color of the year for 2015. I reacted with shock and disgust, and alas, I still loathe it. It’s a wimpy cop-out, and as a cousin of Pantone’s 2014 color of the year (Radiant Orchid), it’s simply not an interesting choice.

Plus it’s gross. And I don’t look good in it. So.

Lafayette Lamp from Schoolhouse Electric

Lafayette Lamp from Schoolhouse Electric

But one has to have some sort of guiding principle for the year, doesn’t one? So Bright Navy it is. I’m going to pretend that Marsala doesn’t exist.

Navy blue bedroom with red and white John Robshaw bedding

Design by bossy color, photo by Michael K. Wilkinson

If you, like me, plan to embrace Bright Navy as the color for 2015, here are some paint colors to consider. I’ve selected these from real-life swatches, by the way, not from on-screen pictures:

From Fine Paints of Europe, MV22 Canton China Blue (part of their Mount Vernon collection). This would be amazing on a front door:

Fine Paints of Europe, Canton China Blue

Fine Paints of Europe, Canton China Blue

Benjamin Moore’s 2066-10 Blue would be beautiful in a Dining Room:

Benjamin Moore Blue 2066-10

Benjamin Moore, Blue

And I’d love to see Farrow & Ball’s Drawing Room Blue 253 in a tiny guest room with crisp white bedding. (You’ll have to trust me on this one; it looks dark and gray here, but it has zip in real life):

Farrow & Ball, Drawing Room Blue

I’m seeing a lot of terrific dark blue accessories to support my declaration.

Blue glass lamp with blue shade

Akayla Lamp, Lulu and Georgia

Serena & Lily throw pillows

Serena & Lily throw pillows

Anthropologie's Zocalo embroidered quilt

Zocalo quilt, Anthropologie

(Admittedly, to call that quilt any sort of navy is a stretch — it veers toward a Royal Blue, in my opinion — but the point is that it is NOT Marsala. And isn’t it pretty?)

If you really want to be bossy about Bright Navy as the color of the year, you’ll consider this dining table from Century Furniture. I think it’s amazing.

Milan Collection, Satin Walnut Dining Table with metal base, Century Furniture

Milan Collection, Satin Walnut Dining Table with metal base, Century Furniture

It looks like Kate Spade is a fan of Bright Navy — or at least navy. I mean, this pops up immediately on her website…

Kate Spade

Kate Spade

…and this chair is part of her brand-spanking new Kate Spade Saturday collection for West Elm:

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 12.45.41 PM

West Elm, Kate Spade Saturday Retro Wing Chair in splatter print

How ’bout it, Kate? Will you join me in taking a stand against Marsala?

I hope you’ll join me, Gentle Readers. The next time you’re in a home furnishings shop, let your hand linger over an object the color of lox left out overnight — that would be Marsala — and then, deliberately and decisively, pick up something bright navy instead.

Bright cobalt blue dining room with black and white rug

Design by bossy color, photo by Michael K. Wilkinson

A small gesture, perhaps, but I know you’ll make it a heartfelt one.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.

Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015: Marsala

We’re in for a rough year, Gentle Readers. By now you’ve heard the news that Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2015 is 18-1438 Marsala.

Pantone color of the year 2015 Marsala

Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year: Marsala

Yes. That Marsala.

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Jura Koncius at The Washington Post broke the news to me, and my reaction was less than positive.

Pantone's Marsala and Kevin in Home Alone

Pantone’s Marsala where it belongs: in 1990 (Macaulay Culkin as Kevin in the movie, Home Alone)

I sat with the news for a few days. And tragically, I must report that my feelings have NOT CHANGED.

Marsala is dead. Dusty. Sad. It’s the color of fatigue. Giving up. Neither-here-nor-there-ness. Mediocrity. Despair.

Fassbinder's 2011 film, Despair

Fassbinder’s 2011 film, Despair. What color is his face? Marsala.

I’m so disappointed. (How appropriate: Marsala is also the color of disappointment.) Was it really too much to ask for a bright navy? Or a bluish gray? Or, if the Pantone folks just couldn’t see beyond the red family, why not a nice clear Chinese orange-red?

The thoughtful folks at Pantone are trying to get our creative juices flowing by assembling some palettes for us. Behold, “Victorian Funeral:”

Pantone's color of the year 2015 Marsala palette

Pantone palette featuring Marsala

“Holiday in Afghanistan:”

Pantone's color of the year 2015 Marsala palette

Another Pantone palette with Marsala

And, “Yesterday’s Bruise:”

Pantone's color of the year 2015 Marsala palette

Pantone palette with Marsala

As with Radiant Orchid last year, we will survive by interpreting this color liberally, not literally. I’ll push it to Oxblood, a strong, clear, dark red that has dignity to spare. Others may push it to Burgundy, which I loathe. (Burgundy is the cheap interpretation of Oxblood; it’s more purple, but it doesn’t have the courage to be Aubergine. Wuss.)

If you absolutely feel you must use Marsala to be au courant, use it in a flower arrangement…

Flower arrangement using Marsala

Sullivan Owen for bhldn. Isn’t this the most exquisite photograph?

…in a lipstick…

Marsala-colored lipstick

Tom Ford lipstick

…on your front door, which, after all, is the lipstick of your house…

Marsala colored front doot

Marsala front door

…or on a shirt. Or better yet, on an apron that’s going to be covered in other colors soon anyway.

Pantone's color of the year 2015 in action

From the Pantone website

But you won’t catch me using it on much of anything.

Since you asked (well, you didn’t, but please humor me), bossy color’s color of the year is going to be a lovely crisp navy. It’s an excellent foil for bright colors and a perfect mate for nearly any saturated color you can think of. And, of course, it’s gorgeous with white. It’s the color of perseverance, strength, leadership, and loyalty.

Blue and white room by Samantha Pynn

Designed by Samantha Pynn, photographed by Virginia Macdonald

Not dried blood.

Marsala colored pillows

Kravet. Sigh.

Bossy color | Annie Elliott interior design is a full-service design firm in Washington, D.C. We create outrageously beautiful homes for fascinating people.