We sat down with Dana Gibson, one of our team’s favorite designers. Dana’s products and approach are fresh, fun and fabulous - and they absolutely bring more color and happiness into our lives. Perfect timing as the cold, bare months of winter finally head into our rear view.
She shares her best tips and advice on how to add more color into our homes, just in time for spring.
We love how you use color and pattern! Your designs and products are beautiful — filled with color and life, happy and elegant — but never chaotic. What is your best advice on incorporating color and pattern while maintaining tone?
Patterns are all about telling stories. Imagery speaks volumes. I use patterns in home décor because it suggests more than just a solid choice. A tribal print nods to the exotic. Chinoiseries are gentle living, grace and politeness. Florals and botanicals strike that note of the outdoors. Using color and pattern in the home is a way of expressing what you love and who you are. The current trend for neutrals tends to be impersonal. Color and pattern are the opposite---expressive.
Any cautionary tales or suggestions of what “not to do?”
I've definitely made mistakes in my home. We all have. My best advice is to choose something for a room that really speaks to you—a rug, an antique chest or a painting and build the room from that. What to add will come to you over time. Decorating to me is like a puzzle and is not meant to be done in a day. The saddest moment for me is when I realize a room or a house is "done.”
Where do you like to invest the most in color and pattern? Walls, furniture, lighting, accessories?
I invest the most in accessories mainly because it has a lot of impact, but also the cost is not as prohibitive as a new sofa or swivel chairs. A dynamic large-scale artwork, statement pillows, a rug and lighting are so important to create impact in a room. Comfort can be achieved by a reasonably priced sofa and chairs. The drama and character of a room is usually achieved through paint color, accent elements, and textile patterns.
Do you think that one room’s color and palette should coordinate with the other rooms? Is there a good rule of thumb to keep things harmonious and elegant, but not dull or monotone?
I do think rooms should have related elements, be it through color or style. Nowadays, we really don’t shut rooms off from one another. For example, the kitchen is often open to the living area. Rooms have different functions, so a kitchen is likely more streamlined than the cozy study. But I still believe that carrying an accent color from room to room feels soothing and right.
Let’s talk paint. Do you have a favorite color paint you love to use, a go-to white or neutral, and do you have a certain deck (Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball, Sherwin Williams?) that you love most?
All White by Farrow and Ball and Blueberry Hill by Benjamin Moore for my front door come to mind. I don't follow paint and tend to eyeball what I'm after at the paint store. For example, I googled Italian terracotta for my guest bath, screenshot the colors I liked, and sifted through the myriad of options at the paint store. Choose the color slightly less vibrant than what you have in mind. Walls should not scream.
We love how you create little nooks within a space to make each place feel special and welcoming. What tips can you share to help us make this happen?
Vignettes are a way to corral pieces you love. I'd rather have a concentrated group of items in one place like a table than have items scattered all over the room. My eyes need a rest, and I love a windswept feeling to a room. That said, without any favorite pieces, rooms tend to look like real people don’t live there. A round table with favorite photographs and found objects makes the space personal.
We love your desk top decor! Let’s just say someone, not us, of course, has let her desk become a black hole and a sight for sore eyes. What can help transform this wasteland into a space that actually inspires work?
I’ll credit my grandmother for inspiring my “Desk Top Decor” of pens and trays and pretty props for the home office. My work office is a mess but the bamboo pens we use around the studio make us happy. My grandmother was a neatnik and had a beautifully appointed desk with essentials like scissors and letter openers. Everything was always in its place. Investing in a letter tray, a bamboo pen, or a fancy tape dispenser, helps to reduce the tedious chore of keeping the desk neat and organized.
We want our rooms to be functional, yet alive, filled with objects that matter and bring warmth, but are not overrun by the tchotchke effect. Any helpful rules of thumb?
Corral the tchotchkes on trays or a table. Edit what is just gathering dust and streamline the group by color.
What do you say to the Girl who Loves Neutrals?
I totally get it and it's a personal choice. I dress rather neutrally because it's my style and I'm not comfortable in a vibrant colored dress for example. So, the neutral lover can expand her horizon just a bit in her home by throwing in an Hermes orange-colored pillow or two striking lime gourd lamps. This should be enough to wake up a neutral room.
You’ve called your Chintz “husband friendly,” with its pallet of grays and greens. Color is so fun and fresh and feminine. How can we make the men in our life feel at home in it?
In the human world, it’s the women who are drawn to color and display. In nature, a cardinal and peacock with the most beautiful colors are male. My husband is just stubborn I think. Getting him to accept a change I make in the home is a battle sometimes. I think he thinks the changes are unnecessary. Dressing up the house is sheer fun, and should remain so. For some of us, there is no end to delighting the senses by rearranging a room.
Thank you, Dana! We love these answers as much as we love your designs. And, now, let's just bring on spring...!