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How not to design: Advice from HGTV ‘Star’ Meg Caswell

Meg Caswell of HGTV's Meg's Great Rooms.

Meg Caswell of HGTV's Meg's Great Rooms.

As an HGTV personality, Meg Caswell won the sixth season of Design Star and hosts Meg’s Great Rooms.

The energetic Chicago interior designer who trades in Palm Beach chic and cheeky humor, who appeared at the Washington-area Capital Home Show last weekend, gives advice on choosing paint colors, hanging art and more. Excerpts:

Has HGTV turned Americans into a bunch of crazed DIYers?

I think our economy is driving the DIY movement more than HGTV. I think people are being thrifty, and this makes them want to DIY. It also gives them a sense of pride in what they’ve done.

You’ve coined this term “design crimes.” How do nesters get on that rap sheet?

One is hanging your window treatments too low – they should go to the ceiling or hit the crown moulding!

Another is blocking the circulation of the room with furniture.

What are other common decorating mistakes?

People tend not to understand the difference between cool tones like blues and greens and warm tones – oranges, reds. Then they’ll paint a room that directly adjoins a cool room a warm tone, and it doesn’t look right.

How would you describe your decorating style?

I like my rooms to be preppy, vibrant and colorful. I call it Palm Beach chic, because I love to mix bright colors, chinoiserie (Chinese-inspired pieces) and patterns.

How can I use bright colors at home and not make it look like a clown lives there?

Well, you don’t want your home to resemble a circus. If you want to go bold, either use bright colors on the walls or in a few pieces of furniture and accessories. Don’t do both bright walls and furnishings, though – it’s too much.

What are your tips for arranging accessories?

Don’t randomly place pieces on, say, a coffee table or a chest of drawers. Organize accessories with a purpose, like putting a box with remote controls on the coffee table next to a stack of books. And then add a quirky conversation piece.

Are there any other good rules for displays?

For accessories and plants, height is also a big factor.

You need things at
different heights to create interest.

Besides paint, what’s the best way to switch up a room on a budget?

Switch out your rug. A rug on the floor can revamp a room almost faster than a can of paint on the wall. It brings in new colors and freshness.

Do you see any upcoming design trends?

I love the idea of high-gloss, colorful walls. It’s a way to really take risks.

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