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Designer Chat

Oct 6, 2020

by Paige Charbonneau

I was sitting in a meeting this morning at the multicultural center in downtown Hattiesburg and I was staring at the most fascinating piece of artwork. It was a painting of a girl holding a can up to her ear with a string tied to the end, using it as a homemade telephone. As I studied it, I wondered why I liked it so much. And then the words of my art teachers sounded in my head. This painting is about light and shadow? No, there is more to it. It’s definitely a study of proportion. I looked at the repetition, the triangular shaped curves that repeat in her dress, her eyes, and her arms. Then I noticed the small figurine drawn in the middle upper left quadrant of the painting and I thought about balance. That little figure balanced out the entire painting. What an interestingly small thing, but yet it kept my eye from being completely drawn to the right side of the painting. Such a small detail drew my eye down the telephone line to the other side.

You see, when you are staring at a blank canvas, the “center” isn’t exactly center. It’s a little up and to the left. That’s the natural center your eyes go to. You may be asking yourself, what in the world is Paige talking about and what does it have to do with today’s interior design trends? Well I’ll tell you; it has everything to do with today’s interior design trends. As human beings we all like things that are pretty. We like art, architecture, clothes, cars, jewelry, handbags, furniture, shoes, and we like them for a reason. They are appealing to our eyes and they serve a purpose for us. They fill a need. As an interior designer, there are basic principles of design I follow, the general principles of design include balance, rhythm, emphasis, scale and proportion, and harmony. Then there are elements of design, the elements of design include space, form, line and texture. Then there’s the biggie; form and function.

When I am working with a client on a project, I am not babbling on about these things like some sort of strange art critic, but I am constantly thinking them. It’s like a juggling act. When I am working on a design project, I am juggling ten design balls and I don’t want to drop any of them. I may say things such as, “That item really adds visual interest” or “This painting really ties everything together” or “The texture of your fabric is really going to make a pretty window treatment.” Then other times I may look up exact size calculations to see how big your chandelier should be for the width and length of your room, or to tell you how large of an area rug you need for your space. Sometimes I’ll have clients notice I look deep in thought and then they hear me say, “I’m not sure about something. There is a piece of the puzzle that somewhat fits, but it’s not exactly right.” I have to bring multiple options to the job site to see which one hits the “sweet spot” – that’s another term they teach you in art class.

When it comes to filling a need or serving a purpose, I really go nuts. Heated floors, curbless showers, Chroma therapy and aroma therapy bathtubs, smart homes and electronics and lighting, motorized window treatments, swivel glider recliners, attractive lift chair recliners, and my all time favorite…the portable, electric bath lift chair for the elderly that need a bath but can’t change their existing tubs to the new walk in tubs. Don’t even get me started on all of the kitchen and bath stuff, I could go on forever! I have a friend who is a designer and he recently had pictures of one of his personal homes published in a magazine. We were looking at the pictures together and I laughed at him and said, “This is what a home looks like when there’s no one there to stop you! No husbands complaining about expense and no one specific personal taste to consider but your own!” He reminded me that he WAS the husband complaining about expense on the project, but honestly the pictures were perfect and he was so pleased with the project.

Great design projects happen when you trust your interior designer and let them do what they do best. In interior design school at The University of Southern Mississippi, I had a professor that always said people should walk into your project and say, “Who was the designer on this project?” He claimed that was the proof of good design – when the project is perfect and it fits the homeowner or business concept but isn’t easily recognized as a “Paige project”. Surprising, isn’t it? To not want your personal taste to shine through on EVERY project, so cookie-cutter, but to have a bit of mystery to the design. (While I’m reminiscing about design school days, let me mention that the professors would threatened us with deductions for using the word “couch” instead of “sofa”. Really!) That’s what I shoot for with every client I have. I want them to love their space. I want them to love it for years, too, not just for the current trend. I want it to be theirs, not mine. Of course, I want it to be pretty, and I want it to be right. I want the colors to flow and for the furniture and lighting and flooring to be functional, easily maintained, and beautiful. I think caring is key, and as an interior designer, I have to really care about the design being right for each client I work with, to want what is best for them, and even better, they have to believe I want what’s best for them.

I believe that is what Allen Anderson does best and I believe that’s why he has been in business for so long. I believe that is why people keep coming back to Anderson Design Center. Generations keep coming back, families, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, aunts, and cousins are my best clients. It’s a generational relationship built upon trust, but especially upon friendship. We have a good time getting to know one another and decorating and designing. You may walk into Anderson’s one day and see us all sitting at a design table laughing and talking like the oldest of friends – and that’s what we are at Anderson Design Center, we are friendly AND we are friends!!!

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