“Each of us has a palette that we are naturally drawn to over our lifetime,” the interior designer says. “It will change a bit and shift through a lifetime, but it’s the colors we want to live with.”
Inside the north Eugene home Ellis shares with her husband and business partner, Michael, the palette is soothing and inviting: in the living room, for example, the walls are painted warm beige, and there are dark brown, deep red and avocado green accents. Everything works together, including the accessories — several pillows, the coffee table that’s really a drum, a rustic metal lamp shade, and a stunning painting on the wall as the main focal point.
“Everything that I have is collected. I’m always looking for a treasured piece, but I like to move things around.” Ellis points out a vase on the kitchen counter, where she often changes the flowers to suit her mood. And a tall, glass vase by the house door is a standout. “I like things that are curious. Every time I find something, I usually have an idea of where it’s going to go.”
Ellis, a native of Eugene, has a degree in graphic design from the University of Oregon and a degree in interior design from Arizona State University. She spent several years studying, teaching and working in design in the Southwest, specifically in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she has designed homes and residential and commercial interiors (visit www.ellisdesigngroupllc.com)
“I understand the culture here,” Ellis says. “And I’ve been groomed to make budgets stretch. Good impact. Visual interest. But not super expensive. Nothing that I’ve put in here is very expensive. I believe in design quality.”
So if homeowners are not in the market for completely remodeling a room, there are plenty of things they can do to switch things up without breaking the bank. Here, then, are some of Ellis’ design tips and tricks for updating rooms within a reasonable budget:
A great way to see a space with new eyes: “Remove all the accessories and art, rearrange the furnishings, and then replace the accessories and art. A lot of times people can’t see through their clutter. It’s hard to see your own stuff because you’re so close to it. Keep the stuff that’s really special to you. Then add new things to work with the existing things.”
Keep it in proportion: “For a small space, the furniture, etc., must be in proportion to the room. Putting a mirror in the space makes it feel larger, too.”
Favorite quick fix: “Paint is extremely inexpensive and one of the biggest impacts you can have. It’s so easy to change,” whether its only an accent wall or repainting a whole room.
Most overlooked: “The floors. People don’t typically think that the floor is an opportunity to do things. You could redesign the foyer floor. But reimagining a floor area could also just be using rugs.” Another overlooked area is window coverings. “People don’t know what to do with them. There are a lot of up-to-date things people can do. And they don’t have to be expensive,” what with reasonably priced fabrics and curtain rods.
Antiques add oomph: “I have a thing for chests with glass doors that open and close. You could take a chest and make an iron base for it and make a cocktail table out of that. The sizes can vary. Small ones can be ottomans.” Also, don’t be afraid to display favorites. In Ellis’ kitchen, she artfully displays her favorite silver pieces in the dead space above the cabinets. “They used to be tucked away in the cabinets,” she says with a laugh.
Beat the bedroom blues: “Build a headboard out of wood. You can take 2-by-4s (and) plywood to build the headboard. Take padding and pad it up really thick. Staple it all on. Also rugs, like a Kaleen rug, can make fabulous headboard coverings.”
A surprisingly versatile accent: Nail heads. “These are really cool. They’re made of solid bronze. Or iron. There are so many applications for them! You can nail them into the structure to use them as different embellishments. You can nail them onto the mantel, for example. I’ve also used them in window treatments. Or around an ottoman.”
Light a candle: “They are a very active light. Even if you’re home alone and you’ve got a candle lit, it gives you a really nice ambient, moving light.” Candles glow on Ellis’ cocktail table or in different colors and heights as part of the centerpiece in the dining room. And candles can be changed up easily.
Visually curious combinations:
Mirror, mirror: “I love mirrors. I’ve used a lot of smoked glass mirror, especially along a whole wall. It can take a mundane space and blow it out. It’s so shiny, and it’s an expansion.”
Architecturally stuck: Don’t be afraid to update things that are architecturally part of the home. “You can recover an old fireplace with tile,” for example.
Focal points count: “When I work, I’m looking for focal points. There should be places where the eye can stop and study” in a room. In Ellis’ home, select pieces of art serve as focal points, as does the large, round mirror in the dining room. “There should be layering. I’m always working to layer the visual view.”
Room most due for an update: “The powder bathroom. The bathroom can be very special and very useful at the same time. You could put great paint on the walls for an instant shift. I like to paint all the walls in the bathroom. Add a floral arrangement that’s silk but good looking. Framed mirrors, too. “I use crown molding, which comes in all kinds of funky finishes. I can put them together to make a frame for a mirror. They’re not very expensive.” Also, updated towel bars make a great impression. And finally, “you’re never going to make a small bathroom bigger, so play up the fact that it’s small. Use smaller tiles. Use smaller, repetitive artwork. Give it great lighting. Have fun with it.”
Carol Ellis would like to invite you to participate in a "Interior Design Strategy Session” where you can speak with her directly on the phone and discuss your current interior design goals and how you can work together to achieve them... Contact Carol at 541-556-7620 today!
Visit the website to see our design packages at http://www.ellisdesigngroupllc.com for details.
Staff Writer Christine Sherk.