Ask An Expert: Kevin Sawyers (Part 2)

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In Part 2 of our interview, interior designer Kevin Sawyers of Sawyers Design shares more of his insightful tips on creating beautiful living spaces; including how to choose paint colors like a pro and demystifying the art of layering textiles. (If you didn’t catch Part 1, you can find it here.)

Ask an Expert: Kevin Sawyers

Nicole: Okay so now we have our basics. Say we have about $1000 to spend on accessories. What are your top three kinds of accessories that you think make a really big difference? Or would you wait, as you said before, and build as you go instead of just buying things that don’t mean anything, just to decorate?

Kevin: Be open to unusual objects being accessories. For example, I found a smelting pot for $25. It’s old and rusted but to me it looks like an amazing sculpture. It would be a perfect piece to anchor a coffee table display. This kind of thing is out there on the streets, at garage sales and in thrift shops. Go back to your inspiration board and let it guide you. This is the stage where it gets down to the nitty-gritty; finding art, textiles, and the little pieces that speak to you and that you want surrounding you. These are the things that build on your homes’ personality. Don’t go shopping to go shopping. Wait for these things.

For me color is huge, and I love to be enveloped in it. I often paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. You can have a base palette but you really want the wall color to be perfect, and to pull the design together, so make your final color selections after you’ve chosen everything else.

Ask An Expert: Kevin Sawyers

Nicole: That’s an interesting point because I think a lot of people struggle with picking paint colors. What do you think of accent walls?

Kevin:  I wouldn’t rule out accent walls in particular situations but for me they are not a go-to idea. I prefer color combinations that play to the strengths of the architecture of a room. If there are little or no architectural features I try to create them with the paint. For instance my office is bright yellow but there’s a build out for a closet so I painted the walls around the closet black. Now the closet build out looks more like a basic form or structural element. Sometimes doing just one accent wall can make a room feel shortened or like it’s coming towards you. If you want a different color in the room, why not paint the ceiling an unexpected color, or the ceiling and one wall a different color than the rest of the room? It really depends on the space you’re dealing with.

Ask An Expert: Kevin Sawyers

Nicole: What are your tips for picking paint colors?

Kevin: I would never, pick a color, purchase the paint, and paint everything. Get multiple options in test cans. For instance, if you want to paint a room blue, get a test can of that color as well as two other tones or shades of the same color. Maybe get one that has a little more green or even red in it. Painting a small 2’x2’ sample on a wall in the room you intend to paint will show you how the color looks in your home. You can also see how the lighting in your home changes how the color looks at different times of the day.  Instead of testing on the wall you can also paint small thin plywood panels. Your local hardware store should have these. You can hold the painted boards up to different walls to see how the light plays on them. I’ve never painted without testing first.

Don’t be afraid, just go with your personality. If your favorite inspiration outfit has fantastic colors in it you wouldn’t normally consider for an interior, go with it anyway.

Ask An Expert: Kevin Sawyers

Nicole: In terms of textiles, do you have any kind of guidelines that you would suggest that usually work together?

Kevin: Back to the clothing reference, think about men pairing suits with shirts and ties. If each piece has a pattern, then it’s all about the play on scale. You can have stripes in the suit, the shirt, and the tie as long as the scales are different, it works. The different scales of the stripes can play against each other, and the same concept applies for checks or floral patterns. Playing different proportions of the pattern against each other is really key. But that’s something that you have to see and feel out as you go. I have some combinations of things that most people never would’ve thought looked good together but when they’re side-by-side it looks fantastic. I’m a true fan of mixing florals on top of florals, and I really love to mix geometric patterns with something that’s more organic. In that situation the proportions and the scale of the pattern really dictates whether it will work or not. If there is the same energy coming off of the plaid as there is a floral then that usually won’t work. Each fabric needs to have a different visual energy.

Choose your textiles according to the durability your home requires. If you have kids and pets then silks and expensive woven pieces are not a good idea. For young single people or couples who entertain regularly consider the company you keep. More durable fabrics may be required if you’re inviting the guys over for a game night. If you’re more of a small cocktail kind of person then maybe showing off a bit with more luxurious options is for you.


Ask An Expert: Kevin Sawyers

Thanks Kevin for sharing some amazing and practical tips with us!

To learn more about Kevin, visit his website, Sawyers Design or his Facebook Page.
To contact Kevin, feel free to email him or call him at 415.606.7645.
All images courtesy of Kevin Sawyers. Photography by Eurydice Galka Photography.
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  1. Pingback: Designer Crush: Palmer Weiss - Start With Four Walls

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