Howard Wiggins is author of “What Were You Thinking” Recognizing Costly Mistakes That Everyone Makes. You will learn: How to make a floor plan:What to take with you when you shop:Why you shouldn`t keep items that don`t fit:Plus: How to use four basic furniture pieces to create 144 unique room designs. Howard Wiggins is recognized by Andrew Martin design firm,London England,as one of the world`s top 35 leading Interior Designers.
Introducing our Spotlighted Author: Howard Wiggins
Please read the interview and ask our famous interior designer some questions to help make your home costly mistake free!
Fran. What made you go into interior design?
Howard. My father was Little Roy Wiggins on the Grand Ole Opry. He was out of town often. So, my mother hired an interior designer to completely re-do our house. I was around nine years old when he decorated my bedroom in the colors of black, brown, coral and cream. Those are still my favorite colors today. And, I have always favored those colors for myself.
Fran. What can readers learn from your book?
Howard. How to think like an interior designer and how to logically approach the design of a room that will keep you from making costly mistakes and have a room that you will enjoy forever or, reflects your personal style. You may decide after reading the book, that interior design is more complicated than you think and will require the expertise of a design professional.
Fran. What are the basic needs of a living room on a budget?
Howard. The answer to the question can be approached in various ways. First, if the floor plan. Everyone sits in a ten foot square. My book mentions how you can take four pieces of furniture comprised of a sofa, a pair of chairs and one odd chair. There are 144 different ways that these four pieces of furniture can be arranged. This doesn’t mean all 144 ways will work in your room, but, several will always work in anyone’s room.
Second, is to choose your rug or sofa fabric before choosing all paint colors. Once, you have chosen your sofa or rug, that directs you to what colors you are going to choose for your paints.
Third, is balance, textures and proportion all apply to accessorizing.
Fran. If you redecorate this living room, what pieces should remain or should you take a picture of the room and decide what stays and what looks dated?
Howard. This is where you may need professional help. Because professionals know the trends and they know what is timeless and they know how to add pieces to update your room.
Fran. Why is it not always right to buy trendy items?
Howard. There is nothing wrong with trendy items. The secret to it is that you don’t want to go overboard with any trend. Example: Animal prints have always been a classic but, there was a period in time when everyone was doing monkeys, palm trees and animal print fabrics everywhere. That was going overboard. A touch of any of these things in small doses has always been in style.
Fran. What are the basics that every living room must have? Why is the sofa the most important element when choosing?
Howard. The basics are the same in every room. Function, lighting, balance, texture and scale. The sofa determines the direction the room will take. Example: If it casual or formal? Is it a print or is it a solid? Is it a lounging type sofa or a conversational type sofa?
Fran. According to you, white walls and trim are not the way to go. What is your reasoning?
Howard. I only use white to balance off of white which is already in the room, such as a white sofa, white accents in a rug, or in a number of accessories using white. Otherwise, all colors are complemented by other colors. White is the absence of all color, therefore, it over powers all other colors. You only see white, unless it is balanced with colors that are very strong, bold or bright. This is an example of a balance of color rather than a complement to color. Throughout history, trim never was in white. The use of white trim and walls came into play when, after WW2, soldiers returned home and there was a shortage of housing and, this was a cheap, fast way to build the homes. And, since white is noncommittal, anyone could easily change it to whatever they wanted. Since white is void of color, it would neither complement or fight with what they had. It was just considered a basic neutral.
Fran. What should someone do if they live in an apartment or co-op and are not given a choice of wall and ceiling colors?
Howard. They should buy an 8 x 10 area rug or sofa in the style and color or colors that they love and should not consider white a color. White is a neutral. The rug and sofa does not need to have white in it, unless the person specifically wants it.
Fran. When are area rugs appropriate?
Howard. Definitely and always on wood, tile, or any hard surface floor. The rug will soften and anchor the room down.
Fran. Why do you need a good floor plan before you even begin decorating?
Howard. Based on traffic flow, you may need two sofas as opposed to one, or, four chairs and no sofa. Then you will know how to shop correctly.
Fran. Where are the best places to shop for a sofa and how do you determine what size and shape it should be?
Howard. Based upon the longevity of your sofa, price is going to be a determining factor. At today’s prices, a $2,000.00 or less priced sofa is not going to last more than 10 years in a heavily used area, such as a family room. Always shop at a high end store first, even if it is above your price range, and get educated, so that you know what you can afford and what to look for in a good sofa.
Size, as we discussed earlier, is determined by floor plan and shape is determined by what you love and what is comfortable to you.
Fran. Where do you position end tables and lamps in a room?
Howard. Your floor plan tells you whether you need end tables or a sofa table in the room. The arm height of your chairs and sofa determine the height of your tables. You do not want a heavy lamp on a skinny table or, a skinny lamp on a heavy table, or a tall lamp on a tall piece or, a short lamp on a short piece. Example: A short end table requires a taller lamp. And a tall chest requires a short lamp. Regarding lamps, you need to have an even balance of light throughout the room.
Fran. Explain why family shrines or knickknacks do not belong in a living room.
Howard. Items that have special meaning to you but not your guests, should be used in a more private setting such as a bedroom or hallway. The exception would be something such as a portrait, artistically rendered, that would be worthy of hanging, even if the subject were not related to you.
Small knickknacks make a room look cluttered unless grouped together and displayed at different elevations in order to be perceived as a whole.
Fran. What advice would you give to a new homeowner before they decorate and after they create a floor plan? What do they do if they have a limited budget?
Howard. The advice is the same for both. Follow the three rules. Create a floor plan first, always. Then purchase your largest items, that you love. Thirdly, buy other items that complement the larger items that you have already bought. In my book I give an example of wearing cowboy boots with a bow tie and swim trunks. I can like all of those items but, they don’t complement each other.
Always start buying your most expensive, large items first. You can always wait to buy other things later. It’s better to live without than to have the wrong things. What you base your whole room on, which are the larger items such as a sofa or rug, determine the direction your room will take.
Get one room finished completely before proceeding on to the next. One decision determines the next.
Fran. Why buy quality furniture and accessories?
Howard. Because you get what you pay for. A $1,500.00 sofa will last you fifteen years or longer. A $500.00 sofa will last five years or less, so, it’s the same price in the long. You want to start with a quality level, investing in pieces that you can build upon. that will give continuity to the look of the room throughout rather than starting over. You do not want to start your decorating from scratch every ten years. It take a lifetime to acquire a certain look that reflects your personal style.
Fran. What are the 7 mistakes people make in decorating?
Howard. Monotony. You don’t want your house to match throughout because it becomes boring and dated.
Heirlooms are another mistake. Your parents bought furniture according to their need and tastes and not yours. Don’t feel obligated to use these items unless it fills your needs and wants.
Like versus Love. As discussed earlier, you buy items that complement the big items that you love, not what else you love. You are going for the overall continuity and feel to the room.
Too small. It’s better to have a few big items that make a statement than to have a lot of little items that make the room look like a doll house.
Shopping for fun. That cute item that made you laugh at the store is not cute when you have to look at it 365 days out of the year. If you want to shop for fun, shop for yourself and don’t take it out on your home.
Bargain hunting. It is only a bargain if you would have bought it even if it were not at a good price.
Family pictures. These are not the only answer to decorating a wall or table. There are other items that can enhance your room with color and size and texture that would reflect more of your personal style and taste, as well as, better complement their surroundings.
Fran. What are the three basic steps to success?
Howard. Complete one room at a time, in order to establish continuity to the feel of your surroundings and to keep the quality level intact. Being able to allocate the necessary funds to furnish your home at the same quality level as the house that you spent big money on. Not becoming comfortable and immune to the mistakes and shortcomings of your home which would out date it, as well as, keep it from progressing to the next level of refinement.
Fran. When did you begin your career as a designer?
Howard. I originally thought I wanted to become a veterinarian. After a year of schooling in this discipline, I decided that wasn’t for me. I called my parents and told them that I was miserable. My mother suggested that I might want to study at the O’More School of Design because she knew I had an appreciation of beautiful things. The rest is history.
Fran. Besides your book, where else can you refer to the work that you have done and to other articles that you have written?
Howard. Everything I do and every article written about me or that I write gets posted onto my website which is www.HearthstoneInteriorDesign.com.
Fran. Tell everyone about your company.
Howard. My company is unique, because we don’t have a store front, therefore, I’m not trying to sell items from my store that I picked to my clients. We prefer to go to the resources that best suit the client’s needs, taste and budget. This way, we can also quickly place the items together as a whole, in the room, before collecting money, so that the client sees the total effect. By doing it this way, instills in our client, confidence in the end result.
Fran. What is next for you as an author?
Howard. From the beginning, my business plan has always been to write interior design articles and write a book to establish my name. The next thing I would like to do would be to host or become a regularly featured guest a TV show. I would also like to design my own furniture line, eventually.
If I were to write another book, it would be entirely different from the one I have already written. It would be based on the consequences of clients not listening to sound professional advice, written in a humorous way.
Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me. Many successes to you as an interior designer and author. Fran Lewis
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