Ask an Expert: Louise Roe

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Exotic Decor

Q: Hi Louise…I’ve traveled a lot and have a lot of exotic decor that I’d like to work into my cozy, traditional home. Masks, vases, etc. (what’s the pt. of having them if I don’t show them off?) I’m willing to switch up fabrics etc. in my living spaces to work with these pieces; right now they’re floral and clash horribly But I don’t want my look to be too tribal…I don’t like exotic patterns either. I also have a lot of antiques furniture from a shop my grandmother owned before she died…some Stickly etc. What do you advise on upholstery? -Colleen

A: Hi Colleen. I’m the same as you – I love to pick up souvenirs from my travels, but you have to do two things in order for them to work at home:

  1. Be brutal. You can’t display everything, or your living room will feel like a tourist store. Choose your absolute favorite pieces, and let them take center stage.
  2. Instead of switching up your whole color scheme to accommodate these eclectic artifacts (the room could look too busy this way), keep the fabrics and walls a calmer, more neutral color palate.

Great examples of this are the Soho Houses located around the world, that often have warm taupe, exposed brick, or wooden paneling on the walls. I also love the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs for their approach of mixing up global objects. I stayed in a beautiful room with African masks all over the walls, and although there were contrasting pieces of art, vases and pieces of furniture, the walls and sheets were white, creating a simple, clean backdrop.

Exotic Deocr Bedroom
Image: Soho House Berlin

How to Balance Vintage and Modern

Q: Hi Louise! I have a 1920′s dinning room set which I love! But my husband likes a more modern look. What are some elements I can bring into my room to balance out the more traditional feel of the set? -Michelle

A: Dear Michelle, I love bright colored walls in a dining room, it creates an ambience perfect for a raucous dinner party. Test out a few different shades: everything from burgundy to sea foam looks fantastic behind tables and chairs. One of my favorite accessories at the moment is a retro cocktail cart. It’s very Mad Men, but also very chic and a useful place to neatly display your dining set, so they’re subtly on-show and don’t dominate the room. Find yours at a bargain online at FirstDibs. I love to see vintage mixed with modern, so look at the modern art or photography you could mount on the walls to give the room an avant-garde edge. Also, where you mount the frames is key: look to create a gallery wall by starting from the center and working outwards. Don’t be afraid to put pictures close together, here’s an example of what I mean.

Vintage Gallery Wall
Image: Domaine Home

Vintage Pieces in the Home

Q: How do you determine what the limit of antique pieces in a modern room should be, before you hit a too much of an antiquated Romanesque/gothic feel? -Alexandra

A: Dear Alexandra, there’s no set rule – Dita von Teese’s house is a homage to your theme and it looks fantastic, but it’s not for everyone. Personally, I’d say more than 4-5 ‘retro’ pieces in one room, will start to feel like a film set. It’s the same for me and fashion: I stick to one vintage item per outfit, or I feel like I’m playing a character. Break up the old fashioned, gothic pieces with modern-day objects: fresh flowers, a scented candle, coffee table books, limes in a bowl, and a cozy cashmere blanket draped over a chair.

Vintage Modern Coffee Table
Image: Mason... Like the Jar

Meet This Week's Expert: Jamie Adler

Jamie Adler Expert

Jamie Adler is President, CEO, and Brand Director of Phyllis Morris Originals, one of the foremost manufacturers of custom high-end furnishings in the world. A design graduate from UCLA, Jamie has had a lifelong passion for all things with style and flair. She is one of the founders of the West Hollywood Design District and serves as the Vice-Chair.

This Week's Topic: Mixing High and Low Budget Design on Residential projects

Jamie will be answering your questions about where to spend money and where to save it.

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Style expert and journalist, Louise Roe has written home and design pieces for a number of publications, including In Style UK, Elle UK, and Men's Health UK, amongst others. She also writes a home decor column for LuxDeco. Roe has a passion for Interior design and finding and revamping flea market and vintage home items.