Author Archives: Zoe Clark

About Zoe Clark

Zoe Clark is a journalist, freelance stylist and blogger from Smooth Decorator. She is a visual storyteller and aesthetician by heart who often writes about decorating and DIY ideas. She loves sparking creativity in people and giving them ideas for their own spaces.

Why Grey Is the New White

Move over white, there’s a new player in town. Grey has been an “underdog” of the color world for too long. It has been considered dull, drab and depressing and pushed aside by its “more appealing” and warmer neutral buddies, such as beige and sand. However, for the past few years, grey has rather quietly been making its way up, and before we could even notice, it has established itself as the go-to neutral shade in today’s interiors. This trend can be linked with the rise of Scandinavian chic, which used grey in generous amounts even before it was “cool”. Let us try to learn something the Scandinavians already know – what’s so great about grey and what makes it the new white.

It's VersatileAnders Perssonsgatan 11Photo from REVENY 

Unlike white, which has just several variations, grey has many different shades. It can be dramatic, elegant or calming. Charcoal grey will make walls disappear and add incredible drama to any room. On the other hand, ammonite grey is the perfect alternative for off-white and an amazing neutral backdrop. Cloud grey feels soft and airy, but it is saturated enough to make a difference. We could go on like this forever. The point is that there is a shade of grey for everyone – from homeowners too shy to jump out of their beige comfort zone to those willing to take the risk and go with the grey flow.

It Goes Well With Different StylesBrooklyn Heights, BrooklynPhoto from Baxt Ingui Architects PC

Grey might be the go-to color for Scandinavian interior design, but don’t let that fool you. The versatility it offers with shades, it doesn’t deny with styles either. It can fit into a rich vintage room just as well, and provide a perfect offset for a rustic, industrial or contemporary style. Another argument for this “quiet achiever” is that it doesn’t have to be the star of the show – it can work well with almost every other color.

Anything White Can Do, Grey Can Do Better

Цветная провокация

Have you noticed today’s trend to use bold colorful hues in home décor? Well, in combination with them, white may be too bright and distracting, while beige generally dies when combined with clean colors. Grey, on the other hand, provides a crisp backdrop for those lively shades, and makes them stand out more. For example, if you want to enrich a space with drastically different blue and orange occasional chairs, avoid whites and beiges, and use grey as an intro into this dramatic designer move.

It's Not Just for the Walls

Reforma de vivienda en la Bonanova, Barcelona

White is rarely used on surfaces other than walls, except when it comes to bathroom design or opening up a really small and dark room. That’s where grey is winning the game. It is the ideal shade for countertops, regardless whether we are talking about granite or quartz surfaces, but it can also look great on kitchen cabinets. Grey furniture and accessories can also look great, especially if you are aiming for a minimalistic setting.

Design Hint: How to Use Grey In Your Home

Trine Lundager

Now that you’ve read all these amazing things about grey, you probably want to use it in your home. First, you need to find the shade of grey you want. If you choose a shade that leans toward white and other light neutrals, you can use similar design rules. A bolder shade of grey (e.g. charcoal) is better balanced with black or chalky white. A room rich with strong grey needs several colorful accessories as focal points. If you’re so fascinated with grey that you want to use more than one shade, try to logically arrange them (one for the walls, one for the furniture, etc.). One of the main factors that should influence your decision is the amount of natural light a room receives, but you should also consider the orientation of the space (north, south, east or west).

Although we have crowned grey as the king of neutrals just now, it has actually been here for ages, and it will always be a timeless classic, so it is time to get used to it, because this former underdog is here to stay.

For more modern design inspiration: 8 Wooden Accents to Add A Natural Vibe To A Contemporary Kitchen | 3 Modern Kitchen Countertops With Waterfall Edges

Back to Basics: Bring the Outdoors into the Bathroom

Designed by Knudson Interiors

Natural elements made a loud entrance to the interior design scene last year, but their invasion of stylish homes didn’t stop in boudoirs and living rooms. Pushing deeper into private quarters, timber, stone, and houseplants went on to claim their rightful place in the shower room as well. Right now, nature thrives in stylish quarters dedicated to personal hygiene, and the introduction of natural materials into the bathroom has brought many a benefit to both the planet and home aesthetics. Eager to jump on the wagon of trending bathroom designs? Then you’d better arm yourself with the basics on how to achieve natural restroom décor before you launch the makeover.

1. Stone Tiles for a Sustainable Twist
Canyon Pass at Dove Mountain

Stone is one of the most common elements borrowed from Nature’s lap that looks at home in a graceful and airy lavatory. The best stone flooring options for the bathroom include marble and granite, but Caesarstone is even more convenient since it’s simple to maintain and promises superior resilience and lifespan to go with sustainability, aesthetic value, and reasonable cost.

For a green twist, quartz surfaces can be cleaned without the use of chemical detergents, which is a nice boon if you’re looking to reduce your household’s ecological footprint. On top of that, Caesarstone will last far longer than most other floor and countertop materials out there, which means its use as lavatory flooring will help slice extenuation of natural resources in the long run.

2. Bathroom Flooring Clad in Wood

4120 Raven- Harvey Norman Renovations

Most homeowners are wary of using wood in the bathroom, but there isn’t a single good reason why the lavatory floors shouldn’t rock a timber guise. Still, reputed shower plumbing experts say that timber flooring is a better fit for bathrooms with built-in or standalone tubs, while stone tiles are a financially wiser investment for lavatories outfitted with shower bases.

To reduce the risk of floor damage through exposure to high humidity, opt for engineered wood coated with acrylic impregnated wear layer and hack superior aesthetics, durability, and maintenance ease by a single flooring upgrade. Laminate is also a viable bathroom flooring option, but its aesthetic value is far lower than that of engineered wood or standard hardwood floorboards.

3. Organic Textiles That Speak of Style

Cowgirl Renovation

If you’re not a huge fan of minimalism, you can dress the bathroom up with organic textiles for a green twist. Coarse toilet rugs made from hemp or bamboo fiber will help keep sensitive timber or stone floors safe from moisture and minimize the risk of injury through slip-and-fall accidents.

Another cool accent for a restroom design following in the footsteps of Mother Nature, bath towels made from organic cotton will add a snug and sustainable vibe to your private hygiene haven. If you feel like going green in the loo, don’t forget to swap towels crafted from synthetic fabrics for their cleaner and safer naturally-sourced counterparts.

4. Bathroom Gone Botanical Garden

Total Renovation - Intown Atlanta

Indoor plants are another simple update that will help usher a natural vibe into your restroom. Exotic plants such as philodendron, snake plant, aloe vera, dracaena, bamboo, and spider plant love humidity, so they will fit the bathroom bill perfectly.

Still, make sure to place the pots in a well-lit corner of the lavatory: the botanical tenants that don’t mind moisture usually require ample sunlight. In windowless bathrooms that don’t receive abundant natural light, fluorescent bulbs should do the lighting trick, and they also produce wavelengths plants need to survive and prosper.

5. Natural Details for a Quirky Touch

To round off your nature-inspired bathroom, throw in quirky organic details that bear a personal touch. For example, you can outfit the mirror in an elegant wooden frame or decorate restroom shelves and cabinets with pebbles and seashells salvaged on holidays.

Another way to introduce natural freshness in the restroom is to use framed botanical prints or adorn the walls with hand-painted natural motifs. Towel rails and hooks crafted from branches or twigs will also add a dose of originality to your hygiene spot, but be sure to treat sensitive materials with a coat of water-resistant paint, just to stay on the safe side of bathroom design.

These days, stylish bathrooms are one with Nature, so if your shower room is looking a bit worse for wear, try the natural formula in the next makeover. Stone, wood, houseplants, and eccentric details picked up outdoors will dial up bathroom aesthetics and sustainability and help achieve a sense of stylistic integrity with the rest of your home décor. Let Mother Nature be your design guide: dipping in the lap of natural beauty is more than worth the upgrade cost.

For more decorating with natural elements: Being Good to the Environment: Eco- Friendly Kitchens & Baths | Add Nature To Your Fall Decor

Open-Floor Layouts: A Double-Edged Sword Carving Design Trends

Designed by Richard Cole Architecture | Caesarstone Eggshell

The open-floor plan is a hot design trend these days, and it’s reshaping homes and offices across the globe. The open plan owes its popularity to multiple factors, such as greater spatial flexibility and conduciveness to multi-purpose use, increased aesthetic appeal, sense of stylistic unity, and improved energy flow. But is the open layout ex­actly all gains and no glitches? Well, not exactly: just like any other design trend out there, the open-floor plan has a few downsides you should be aware of before you go on to knock down the walls in your nest.

No Walls = Higher Energy Bills
La Peche Cottage - Kariouk & Associates

If you think your open-floor living area is going to feel warm and cozy during long wintry months all by itself, you’re terribly mistaken. The conventional closed-floor layout remained on-trend for centuries for a good reason: the larger your space is, the tougher it will be to keep tabs on room temperature come wintertime chills. Hot air rises towards the ceiling, so heating your open-floor living area will take more time and cash – and though temperature will be evenly distributed, it won’t exactly come without extra costs attached.

Waving Goodbye to Privacy

Before you bring down the wall between your kitchen and living room, pause for a moment and reflect on the privacy points you’ll be losing through the makeover. Open rooms may be elegant, but they also allow instant access to the entire family, so your time alone in the kitchen will go out the window. In addition to reduced privacy, which you can work around using various props and extras, the shift to the open layout will also boost room acoustics. That means every sound will travel further without the added soundproofing coat you have with the divider wall in place.

Cleanup Time Gone Full-Time
Westlake Residence

Without the walls to prevent kids from scuttling all over the place, your chic open-plan kitchen floors may quickly wind up covered in stains, dust, and debris. Don’t bring down the kitchen wall if you’re not thrilled by the idea of cleanup hassle gone full-time: as suave as a spacious dining room may be, you will need to dress the floors with area rugs to keep footprints out of sight. Or, you can drop high-polish hardwood flooring and go with a matte varnish or laminate instead- this will minimize staining and allow you to get the most out of your open-floor room.

A Limit on Stylistic Freedom
Rush - a home with a Rock and Roll past.

Some interior designers say that there are no limits with décor style mixes in open-layout rooms – but this is not exactly true. Yes, you will be able to pair the mid-century modern and industrial look, and you can also try experimenting with Scandinavian and boho elements, but if you’re not all-out design-savvy, you should tread very carefully with stylistic combinations in the open-floor quarters. If you’re set on opening up your living area, make sure to invest special thought in the styles you’ll blend in there: not all pieces borrowed from different design eras will look equally at home sitting close together in a single spacious room.

Material Mixes That Fit the Bill
Pacific Heights Family Home

When furnishing open-floor spaces, you should also pay close attention to material blends. For instance, if your open layout living room is extending out to the garden, you can incorporate an accent wall crafted from natural stone indoors to achieve aesthetic flow throughout the space. Caesarstone is also a good option for areas that flow out into the yard: you can use quartz to coat the roofed deck and a part of the open-floor room extending out to achieve a sense of visual unity. Another simple trick to seamlessly connect indoor space with areas al fresco is to use home décor and upholstery fabrics same or similar print/ color scheme. It is another hot design feature this year which you can sneak into your nest for bonus trend points!

The open-floor layout is not all glam and no cons: from higher utility bills and stylistic limitations to more cleanup hassle and privacy points lost, the open plan may not be all sheer coolness at a second glance. Does this mean you have to ditch your home remodeling project inspired by chic open-layout designer homes and offices? Definitely not: you just need to be a tad more careful and plan the makeover so as to skirt the negatives rather than settle for them.

For more on-trend home design ideas: How to Have an Efficient Kitchen with No Uppers | Five Tips on How to Decorate with Wallpaper

Scandi Homes with a Boho Twist

Source: Orbit Homes & Arkee Design | Countertop: Organic White

Scandinavian décor revolves around the letter S: sleekness, simplicity, style, sustainability, and symbiosis with the surroundings. Still, a sophisticated Nordic home can lose its original sparkle and charm after a while.

Pacific Heights

Once that happens, it’s time to instill your minimalist interiors with a touch of color and interest – unless you’re really looking forward to spending your days in less than suave interiors. When looking to spice up a Scandi-inspired home, turn to boho elements for creative ideas and easy décor fixes. However different, the two styles can be blended to produce a lasting Wow effect – you just need to know how to mix them.

A casual, coarse touch

Mission Loft | Interior Styling

Boho-style textiles make excellent accent pieces for Scandinavian-inspired homes, but be careful when choosing patterns and hues to add to your minimalist rooms. A woven tapestry and a few decorative cushions with boho prints will instill warmth and energy in your living room, whereas simplistic ethnic-design linens will add a chic and cozy feel to your boudoir.
Bentleigh East Property Styled Townhouse

When picking accent fabrics for your Scandi-boho home, you can try mixing different textiles. A knitted blanket, rag rug made from natural fabric, and textured upholstery will all blend in your Nordic home and add a snug, casual vibe to the ambiance indoors.

A charming kitchen-scape

Silverlake Full Home Design

An all-white kitchen does look clean and airy, but add a few decorative details and you may just pull off a visual masterpiece. To avoid excess visual noise, pair monochromatic wall paint and exposed floorboards with a chic natural stone backsplash or countertop with an innovative print or textural twist. Or, strip the wooden floors and throw in tiles in a subdued hue which you will couple with a casual-looking cabinet or shelving with imaginative pulls or handles.

For bonus visual interest, you can cover storage unit wear-and-tear with contact paper with a two-tone geometric or nature-inspired print. You can also hang a bohemian-style painting or DIY decorative panel on a vacant wall to add character to the kitchen and amp its aesthetic appeal.


Statement experiments

Carriage House, Boston

Vintage armchairs and modernist sectionals will both look at home in a Scandi-boho living room. To achieve a grounded ambiance, pick a statement sofa in dark gray or brown hue, and throw a few cushions with an ethnic print atop to cozy it up. Or, if you really want to amp the eclectic boho vibe in your private space, choose seating with leather upholstery and top it with knitted throws and cushion covers for extra warmth.
Mission Loft

Another simple way to go boho in your Nordic home and add personality to your space is to throw in a couple of modernist chairs which you can top by colorful cushions and animal hides to make a snug backdrop for those lazy Sunday reading sessions.

A well-placed accent


When mixing Nordic and boho, it’s essential to bear in mind the overall ambiance you’re striving to achieve. Modern wallpapers with geometric or nature-inspired print are a simple and cost-efficient way to create an accent wall in a Scandinavian room. In addition to the wide range of playful designs that speak boho loud and proud, you can also pick wall covers crafted from easy-clean materials to minimize maintenance and long-term update costs.

A well-placed accent wall or statement furniture piece will also visually divide your Nordic-style room into separate visual units, which makes them ideal for homeowners whose nests aren’t as generous size-wise.

Chic creative clutter 

Mission Loft

If all else fails, you can always allocate a corner of your room to creative clutter a la eclectic – but before you start scattering around your travel memorabilia, make sure they’re crafted from natural materials. After all, unity with Nature is what Nordic interiors are all about, so don’t ruin the look with cheap details and synthetic textiles.

Scandinavian décors are real eye-candy, but when combined with bohemian-inspired pieces, they will instantly go from eye-catching to awe-inspiring. Good luck!

For more inspiration: Modern Homes Inspired by Countries Around The World | 22 Beautiful Coffee Table Books