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Designer Tips & Tricks: Jonathan Fong

Designer Tips of the Trade: Featuring Jonathan Fong

Described by Daily Candy as an "interior design genius..." Jonathan Fong is the host of the web series "Style with a Smile" and DisneyFamily.com's "He Made She Made." Known for his colorful, whimsical creations, he is also known as the Pee Wee Herman of design. He is a television personality in Israel, where "Style with a Smile" plays daily on the Home+ channel – the HGTV of Israel. Jonathan's work runs the gamut from decorating homes to offices, designing weddings to bar mitzvahs, and creating crafts projects for kids and adults alike. He is the author of three innovative DIY design books: Walls that Wow, Flowers that Wow, and Parties that Wow (Random House/Watson-Guptill).

1. BEYOND WHITE

When it comes to your wall colors, think beyond white. Go through your closet to see what your favorite colors are. What colors bring out your eyes? Is there a color you wear that people always compliment you on? If you can't narrow your choice to one color, buy quarts of a few different colors (or the small sample jars at some paint retailers), and test small patches on the wall so you can see how they look at different times of the day.

2. MOVIE SET

Think of your home as a movie set, and you as the star. What "movie” do you want to live in? Is it a modern drama, a French romance, or a quirky comedy? What would you, the star, want to be surrounded in? When you think in these concrete terms, it will help you select colors, furnishings and accessories.

The menswear living room was for a lawyer client who was very preppy. That theme 'suited' him perfectly. Giant 9' photos of chandeliers for a hallway in a historic mansion give a modern, pop art twist to the antique bones of the house

3. TACKLE CLUTTER

There should be a place for everything. I like bookcases that have doors because there are some things you want displayed, and other things you want hidden. Get furniture pieces that double as storage, like storage ottomans, or beds that lift up to reveal hidden compartments. And make a trip to the Goodwill twice a year to donate items you never use anymore.

4. REARRANGE

Move your accessories around from room to room. Take the photos and knickknacks from the bedroom and place them in the living room. Place the living room accessories in the entryway. Move the entryway items into another bedroom. It's an easy way to freshen up your home without buying anything new. It's amazing how an old item in a new location feels completely different.

5. DIY

Customize store-bought pieces to add your own personality. Change out the knobs to an Ikea cabinet. Paint the legs of a sofa. Add fabric trim to bookshelves.

6. CONVERSATION PIECE

Each room needs a conversation piece. It's helpful when you have boring guests. (Just kidding.) But seriously, design elements that are visually arresting, unusual, or exceptionally personal to you makes your home special and unique.

For the offices of a newspaper client, Jonathan married old school journalism with new technology by finding old stock photos of the newspaper business and covering the doors with them.

7. ASPIRE

You've heard of dressing for success. I believe in decorating for success. The best design doesn't just reflect who you are, but who you want to be. Decorating should be aspirational. While this advice obviously pertains to office spaces, it also applies to a person's home. Up your style quotient. Imagine the home and life you want and surround yourself in an environment that reflects a new you. You don't have to spend over your budget, either. Sometimes the smallest things can make a greater difference than purchasing an expensive piece of furniture.

8. FLOATING CENTERPIECE

The space above your dining table is prime real estate, but it's rarely used. I love to hang flowers, branches, rose petals, candles (unlit, of course), and practically anything above the table using fishing line or thread, attached to removable adhesive hooks on the ceiling. A "floating centerpiece” uses the airspace and frees up valuable table space so you can actually put food on it.

9. CRISP LINENS

When making your bed, give your linens that crisp, wrinkle-free showroom look by spraying on some fabric relaxant like Downy Wrinkle Release. It's a lot easier than trying to iron sheets and pillowcases. Once before a magazine shoot of my bedroom, I made my bed the night before and slept on the floor so I wouldn't wrinkle the sheets. If only I had some fabric relaxant then!

10. FRAMES

Frame those posters and photographs you've been storing in your closet. Everyone has a poster or two that they bought at the museum store a while back, or some precious photos they've always wanted to display. Take them out of the closet, frame them, and hang them on the wall. A quick tip on hanging wall art: People usually hang paintings and prints too high. The center of the painting should be at 60 inches (5 feet), which is the average eye level.

Why Use Murals?

"I love to use murals in design projects because they give me so much visual bang for the buck. I can spend a fortune on a piece of furniture, but the thing that can really wow someone who first enters a room is a mural. It sets the tone for the whole room.

I also love that murals are rather unexpected. Most people aren't thinking murals for their walls (even though they should), so it's really cool when I make the suggestion and show the client how it will look on a Photoshop simulation. It blows them away, and they usually can't wait to do it. And the technology is amazing. Ten years ago, who could imagine that you could take any image or photograph you want and have it printed on a wallpaper mural? And better yet, who knew that the mural could be adhesive and repositionable, so you could install it yourself, and remove it any time to take it to your next home? That's a real selling point for clients."

-- Jonathan Fong, Interior Designer

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