James Swan

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About That Decorating System……..

Bruce Gregga Interior Design

Wow. The response to yesterday’s post about creating a decorating system that will assist you in creating the home of your dreams got so much positive response that I’m now trying to speed this train up….and get this new decorating system into your hands as quickly as possible.  I’ve given myself till the end of April to accomplish this…but in the meantime I want to give you some very practical help to create the most beautiful home possible.

Here’s the Top 5 Mistakes I see people make when undertaking big projects around the house

In my award winning book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” I take readers on a trek through homes I’ve visited in over 20 years as a residential interior designer. We laugh a little at the mistakes everyone (myself included) makes and we promise to do better. No harm, no foul; just a lot of fun and some great lessons learned along the way.

One lesson everyone wants to master is how to avoid costly mistakes when tackling big projects around the house.

Here’s My List of the 5 Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make when Remodeling a House:

  1. Short Changing the Kitchen: It’s not news that kitchens are the heart of a home but if that is the case why are we shy about delivering big design punches right in the heart of the house? Maybe your budget doesn’t allow for the all latest and greatest of everything; but know that the comfort of your home will be impacted when you offer up questionable tile countertops, equally questionable cabinet styles and comically colored appliances.
  1. Anything Less Than an Open Floor Plan:  Given the active nature of family life today the “open floor plan” is an important feature appreciated by homeowners, particularly young couples with children.  In older homes this can mean moving a wall or two. Yes it’s an expense but time and experience has proven this investment pays off handsomely each and every day you live in your home.
  2. Corner Cutting In the Bathrooms: Every home has at least one (bathroom) and it’s an opportunity to deliver memorable moments without breaking the bank. Yet how many times do we see old porcelain fixtures, scratched stainless steel faucets and inadequate lighting?  At every price point owners today expect a “Spa Experience” and will pay for something that moves them in that direction. Leverage your own “Spa Experience” and gain value along the way.
  1. Mismatched Hardware Finishes: A quick way to tag yourself as a remodeling newbie is to mix the finishes on your cabinet hardware, handles and lights. If you’ve decided to work with what you’ve got and you have polished brass then any additions you make in that room need to be polished brass. If you’re working from an empty shell the choice is yours (nickel, brass, bronze…etc.) and the key is consistency. This is a small but telling detail.
  2. Mistaking “Polar Bear in a Snowstorm” for a Paint Color: A fresh coat of white paint should not be confused for a smart decorating move. Remember there are more than 50 Shades of White in any paint deck. In fact a quick count shows me will over 100 shades of white. And make no mistake about it, there are strong pluses and equally strong minuses associated with the use of each.  Clear emotional reactions are associated with color and you want only the most positive emotions associated with your home. Get the color pallet right and you’re golden. Get it wrong and you’ve missed an opportunity to create real and lasting comfort.


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About the author, James

With the launch of the new podcast, Million Dollar Decorating, James Swan adds media-host to his career accomplishments. The interview-based show becomes the first daily podcast devoted to the worlds of design, decorating and beautiful living and features interviews with the world’s leading designers, decorators, architects and artisans. Life-style leaders like Robert Couturier, Sandra Nunnerly, Vicente Wolf and Timothy Corrigan populate the podcast where unguarded conversations reveal behind-the-scenes sources of inspiration, resources and stories that inspire and motivate.
James Swan has built a career crafting classically influenced interiors across the United States. Swan has been featured in House & Garden, House Beautiful, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe and The Chicago Tribune and wrote for the “Trends & Shopping” column in House & Garden magazine. His book “101 Things I Hate About Your House” won a 2011 American Bookseller’s Award.
Television appearances on HGTV’s “Homes Across America,” speaking engagements with the professional design industry association NEOCON, regular guest spots on national radio programs have consistently placed Swan in the media spotlight.
Swan’s career took off back in Northern California at a noted San Francisco architecture firm, where he managed residential interiors. After that, Los Angeles beckoned, specifically the prestigious design firm of Frank K. Pennino & Associates, where as senior designer he managed high-profile projects, and earned a reputation for refined classical design that succinctly reflected his clients’ lives. In 1999, Swan opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.
Swan has a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and music from Southwestern College in Waxahachie, Texas, and studied in Arizona State University's Architecture and Design master's degree program.
Swan is a past member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, serving on its Executive Board of Directors. His other commitments include PAWS/LA, which assists with the care of pets for people living with disabilities, and KidSmart, an art education foundation for inner-city youth. In his free time, Swan may be found furthering his passion for skiing and traveling. Currently he lives and works from his home on the Maine coast.