Solve Your Decorating Dilemmas With Love It Or List It Vancouver’s Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot!
As much as we love the dramatic reveals on Love It Or List It Vancouver, the banter between co-hosts Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot can be just as entertaining. So, in advance of their appearance at the Vancouver Home + Design Show, we set up the most fun conference call ever to get this design-savvy duo’s advice on readers’ common decorating dilemmas. Here are their top tips.
Jillian: Switch up the lighting right away. I love custom lighting; there should be one decorative fixture in every two rooms or so. And I’m a huge believer in vintage pieces, so look for ways to bring in the past. Even if you are a modernist who has an all-white space and no knick-knacks, doing a massive vintage Turkish rug or one beautiful piece of eclectic art is enough. And never buy a complete set of furniture, whether it’s a bedroom set or a dining room set.
Todd: The biggest challenge with new homes — and this applies to condos, townhouses and detached houses — is that the hard finishes are often pre-determined, so you are basically handed a palette of things that can be expensive to change. There are a few telltale signs that no one has touched a space since the developer. One of them is carpet, which is often that yellowy-beige color. It’s like, post-it note yellow! So if there’s an opportunity to take that carpet out, I think that’s huge. I know it’s a big cliché, but builders tend to paint with the same color scheme in every single space for economic reasons, so you can change the feel of the space just by changing the paint colors. And lastly, switch out your door handles and hardware. People often think about switching out hardware in the kitchen, which is great, but think about the rest of the doors in the house, too.
Jillian: It’s not always about colors and styles. Most guys just want to have pieces of their personality in the house. Justin [Pasutto, Jillian’s boyfriend] calls our house The Dollhouse, and it is very white and very delicate. But I’ve made sure to inject his personality in most rooms. I had some antique fishing lures framed for him, and we do the deer heads and antlers, that kind of stuff. What’s awesome is that the trend in design right now is true eclectic, so I think people shouldn’t be afraid to mix styles.
Todd: And you can have different rooms that skew one direction or the other, definitely. I think what makes houses unique is creating different spaces in different rooms. In fact, the most boring houses are the ones where they’re all designed and they have the same feel in every room. It’s like walking through a development where they’ve made 50 homes exactly the same and everyone’s falling asleep by the time they get through three rooms.
Jillian: I don’t know if I have an answer for that! Because I think it’s trial and error. I mean, my home — and all of the spaces that we do on Love It Or List It for that matter — didn’t come together the first time. You buy things, you return things, you have something you thought would work great in one room, but actually it ends up working better in another room. Sometimes people say, “I’m really bad at design, you should come to my house.” But I actually think people just give up too quickly. I’ve changed paint colors in a room six times because I just didn’t get it right.
Todd: You have to be willing to take the time. I think Jill hit the nail on the head; people get frustrated when [a room doesn’t come together right away]. The other thing I would suggest is, don’t overcomplicate it. I think people tend to try to make something work and in that process, it ends up not. It’s not organic. It looks kind of contrived. And I think the best design is in homes and spaces that are steeped in time. Rooms should be an evolution.
Jillian: This is a hard one. A lot of the time, the market is still so hot in so many parts of the country that it might not be worth the time and energy and effort you’re going to put into it. Plus, sometimes people buy houses with undeveloped space with the idea that it’s a project for them. But if you are going to do it, don’t add too much personality. Paint it white, have some nice white baseboard, some hardwood, keep it really simple. Don’t try to get too crazy.
Todd: I think you’re right Jill. Without knowing what that space is, and the market, and where that house is, how much a renovation would cost and all those kinds of things, it’s tricky. But when it comes to evaluating what you should and should not do prior to selling a property, it’s a pure numbers game. So you simply need to make sure that you understand what the value of your property is right now, what the value of your property would be if you sold it once it was done and be able to determine whether you’re going to get a return on your investment. If you’re not likely to, don’t do anything to the basement, because empty spaces do not scare people away. It’s bad spaces that scare people away!
Jillian: Comfort and again, I avoid anything that’s really trendy. I also usually avoid anything too bright. You can add color into your space in the form of throw pillows and throws and art, things that can be returned, but once you order a couch, it’s very hard to take it back, like, “Oh shoot, I don’t like this color of cobalt.” That’s why I often go with oatmeal; it’s not too warm and not too cool, so you can develop any color scheme around it. If you don’t have any allergies I love a couch with synthetic cushions that are wrapped in down, so they’re really nice and deep. I like slipcovered so if you do go with a lighter color, like oatmeal, you have the option to have it cleaned. And I say go as big as you can. Bigger is better!
Todd: I’m not sure about massive couches. I find that normally you don’t have three people sitting on a couch anyway. We’ve got one in our playroom and it’s too big — we need the floor space for the kids to get down on the ground, and it’s taking up too much room! I think upholstery that’s forgiving is important, because even adults are spilling glasses of wine and stuff like that.
Jillian: I would say, pick one primary color and maybe two other colors for each room, and then for the next room decide if you want to continue that palette or pick another primary color. You can’t have equal amounts of color in every space because it’s going to look like a playroom. If I like blue, my space is going to be white, grey and a few different shades of blue. And then I could inject some green or one piece of red — but those accent colors should be kept to a minimum. If you want a lot of red, it would look really classy if the rest of the space was creams and whites and oatmeals and maybe there was one navy vase or lamp.
Todd: I think color is a dangerous topic. A lot of people love color, but I’m not one of them, especially when it comes to the hard finishes in a space. I really believe you should keep those classic, neutral and timeless. For example, my mom loves red, but she brought red into her kitchen — which is this unreal custom kitchen — with small appliances. It’s just tiny accents but that’s what I remember about her kitchen. And she can change those when she no longer likes the red.