10 Decor Secrets From Artist and Design Expert Elizabeth Sutton
September 25, 2019 by
Summer is over, Fall is here, which for us, is the perfect time to update our living spaces. We’ve already Kondo’d our kitchen and closets, so now we’re looking to spark joy elsewhere. We tapped someone who could give us all the right tips and decor ideas to give us that refresh we’re looking for.
Enter Elizabeth Sutton – artist, designer, entrepreneur, and single mother of 2, born and raised in NYC. In less than four years, she has created a burgeoning art career through her Instagram. Sutton translates her artworks onto an array of products, including tile, placemats, clutches, leather accessories and belts, wallpaper, you name it. Her designs have received prestigious awards, and her bags have been featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, in Bergdorf Goodman ads, as well as her artwork in Architectural Digest.
If that’s not enough, Sutton is launching her first capsule collection of saddlebags. Each saddlebag is stitched with the finest quality Gutterman thread from Germany, with 10 unique thread colorations featured throughout the collection. The collection uses six different shades of edge paint, and features custom hardware made of solid brass and plated in 24K gold and rose gold that reflects Sutton’s unique butterfly trademark.
If that doesn’t qualify you as a design expert, we don’t know what does. Onward to the tips!
1. What’s in a knob? – You know that phrase what’s in a name? Well, there’s a lot in a knob. The right knob can help you spruce up any cabinet or drawer. Buy a $199 dresser from Ikea and throw the right statement-making knob and make a standard cabinet, dresser, console, nightstand, or desk look like a million bucks. Knobs can range from $2.50 each to $100+ so you can find options across the board.
2. Black & white balance – a principle to any strong design, this concept can be executed with any combination of colors that provide contrast and the tension between darkness and lightness. Dark gray with light gray, navy with cream, black with white, emerald with a pale sorbet. It’s all about finding the right balance.
3. Decor pop accents – a pretty standard answer but the beauty of this is that you can control how much ‘pop’ you bring into a room via the accents. Take any neutral base and add a colored or patterned accent with a vase, throw pillow, patterned blanket, bright tray, tissue box, bookend or a colorful lampshade.
4. DIY Paint Your Closet, Wall, or Floors – do a quick DIY paint job on any of your surfaces. Benjamin Moore makes amazing floor and patio paints that are a cool way of adding color to your floor, as opposed to your walls. You can also throw thick horizontal stripes on the doors of a closet to let the space function as a focal point, instead of as a repository for all of your stuff. You can also paint two thick horizontal stripes (I recommend in a metallic), approximately 16” wide, and 36” apart from each other (on a standard ceiling height) to add a chic yet unobtrusive element of pop.
5. Mix & match – I feel the most eye-catching designs are those that mix and match patterns in a perfectly balanced manner. Don’t be afraid to mix a floral wallpaper with a graphically patterned throw blanket – just make sure that they play off of each other instead of fighting one another. You can also play with the same pattern by adjusting the scale. For example, you can pair a black and white rug with thick stripes alongside a rainbow pillow with thin stripes. Or thinking about shapes, you can pair large concentric circles alongside small polka dots to try out mixing and matching a different way.
6. Faux or fresh florals – signs of life — either plants or flowers, are for sure important. Not only do they add a touch of color, but the appearance of nature definitely helps bring a space to life. I know it goes contrary to the word “life,” but faux plants and florals are a perfectly fine and more affordable option…. or an option for those who don’t know how to keep a plant alive. I definitely have faux florals in my home.
7. A homey touch – an expansion on the tip above, essential to any complete design, for me, is feeling like the space is ‘lived in’. I’m all for clean and sleek, but a picture frame with a family photo can be executed in any space. A photo album on the coffee table, picture frames on the mantle and my personal favorite, a collage wall. You can find many different layouts depending on your wall size and you can order great, affordable options on Amazon and Etsy. Also, touches like bowls of fruit or bowls of colorful candy that make your guests feel welcome.
8. Art – I’m sure I’m biased, but I know exactly how art can transform a room and bring it to life. I have art on every single wall that can accommodate. You can invest in one piece that you love, or you can do anything as personal as printing your own artistic photos shot in portrait mode on your iPhone and printing them on canvas wraps online.
9. Thrift / vintage store finds – my friends have scored under-appreciated treasures in thrift shops. Cool lamps, cheap pieces of furniture in post-modern silhouettes that you can then make one of a kind by repainting them or changing the hardware. Old lamp with a cool base? Toss the shade and buy or make a new one in a modern pattern or color. Old mirrors can often have amazing frames. Just strip and repaint in a bold, jewel-tone to have a piece that is sure to get compliments. No one else will have a piece like yours and I like being one of a kind as often as possible.
10. Mirror placement – placement should be very strategic, as mirrors of course reflect the view opposed to it. Place a mirror across from your favorite piece of art, or across from the window with the best light, or the best view and you will see how much a mirror can open up a space by bring in extra light and making you feel like you’re surrounded by more art or outdoor space than you are (plus it serves as a great selfie backdrop.) Totally underrated design element. But take note: nothing bothers me more than a mirror opposite a TV.
images // courtesy of the artist