Friday, February 27, 2009


above photos: by Julian Wass, House Beautiful magazine.
Jeffrey Bilhuber interior.
You can read the great interview and see the rest of his color fearlessness here:

I would be a very rich man and be able to do whatever my heart desired, if I had a buck each time I heard a client or received an e-mail stating that "I'm afraid of color!"

It's a fear that I try to understand, but don't. I understand color hesitation, color confusion, color dilemma and so forth...but fear? Really?

I've heard more color"horror stories" than I could ever remember and even then, the word "fear" seems inappropriate. Great design and great design choices come from making mistakes. As a matter of fact, I think that all success comes from splendid failure. You have to take risks in order to figure out what works. Playing it safe when choosing color, patterns, texture and the like may create an adequate room but nobody wants an adequate life. Your home should be the best of you.

Color boldness doesn't mean picking a palette that is jarring and uncomfortable to you. It's about making that color you have always loved but were too afraid to use, work! Knowing that you love a certain color but have been too timid to use it in the past, is half the battle. You're almost there. You know you like it, so it's time to "date it!" Use that color with accessories. It's a quick fix and so much easier to return a pillow than repaint a wall. Finding simple ways to challenge yourself without a huge commitment at first is a great way to build your design confidence and get your feet wet.

Make bold choices, within your style and palette, and watch how a sofa you were "done with" starts to feel new & fresh. Even a neutral backdrop can express more vibrancy due to the fact that it's been partnered with some vibrant jewel tones or rich, muted earthy colors. Starting small and experimenting with color will help fine tune your decorating sixth sense. It's in there. I know it! I've seen it blossom in people that didn't think they could pick a lamp shade let alone design a whole room. A whole house!

Now if you're ahead of the curve and color doesn't scare one bit and you scoff at the rest of the world that looks up at the color chip wall in the hardware store with sweaty palms and trembling knees....HERE'S your challenge: Fine tune your gift.

Since color is this incredible well you love to dip into, be a bit more discerning. Experiment with different hues and tones. Mix patterns and styles. Layer a room with different hues of the same color palette. Challenge yourself to see how you can transform space and light with just color.

Color is one of the most impressive and monumental ways you can transform your home. It can change everything about the way you feel, live and move in a room. Fear is too strong and too negative a word to be applied to something so transforming and positive. Save it for flying unicorns...who came up with that idea? Scary!

-angelo surmelis


Anonymous said...

If I could give a standing ovation t a blog, I would be doing that right now!

I was literally clapping as I was reading this AND laughing! Flying unicorns? Hysterical and very scary! Please write a book. I love your blog and your style.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog and the pictures are wonderful. The use of color and overall styling is very inspiring. Chandra is correct, you really should write a book. I am surprised that you have a House Beautiful post here after the last one where they weren't very kind to your "24 Hour Design." You're a bigger man than me, if I were a man.

Whispering Pine Cottage said...

Yellow and blue! I love this! Yes! Please write a book! I would be first in line to buy it! Angie

Lynne (lynnesgiftsfromtheheart) said...

What a beautiful post.. I love your new header picture..classy..color warms the soul.. Your blog is always so inspiring..have a super w/k.
hugs ~lynne~

Anonymous said...

These photos are gorgeous! I love the use of color here. NEVER would I have thought to pair thee colors or patterns. Thank you for the inspiration and fearlessness that you show on TV and in your blog. The results are always stunning even when I am skeptical. Yes, i too would be in line for your book. It would be so great to meet you at a book signing. Have a wonderful weekend. Sam

Anonymous said...

Really beautiful color combos. They really nailed it. The photography and lighting is gorgeous. I love your blog.

Chandan said...

Lovely post coupled with some drool worthy pictures Angelo..! I love your blog.

Kat said...

Beautiful post. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of color, just not very confident on how to use it! But I am trying. Love the blues and yellows, so pretty and fresh. And yes, I would buy your book in a heartbeat, but only if you came to our local bookstore to sign lol! Kathy

Anonymous said...

Man, once again you nailed it! I can't tell you how frustrated I've been when hearing people express their "fear" of color. It's color, not an axe-wielding, masked intruder. My fave combo is green/purple, and you'll see it throughout my sofa, rugs and linens, place settings, towels etc.

And again, your writing style it top-notch. Thanks for sharing your insights and wisdom with us!


PS. This weekend is about switching out some of my stuff, as you suggested! It's more difficult than I thought it would be. Thanks for the "kick in the pants" to do it!

Anonymous said...

YES! Please write a book. I need your voice to turn to fro guidance, especially when I am out there shopping. Great blog and the pictures are beyond beautiful.

Anonymous said...

SPOT ON! Love this entry. These picture truly are beautiful and your take on all of it is just brilliant. A book you say? Yes please. I'll take two.

DesignTies said...

I love colour, and I'm not afraid to use it!! :-)

And now I'm doing just what you suggested -- I'm going to use colour in a different way in our dining room. The plan is to paint the room white, and have hits of bright, vibrant purples on the chair seats and curtains and ceiling.

Maybe scary to some, but I'm so excited to get started and see how it turns out :-)

Colour is good -- embrace it!! :-)

Kelly @ DesignTies

Anonymous said...

House Beautiful mag has always been a good picture book. These photos prove that. Your take on it makes it real, inspiring and relatable. Great blog.

Anonymous said...

So beautiful these pictures are. This is not a color combination I would have been brave enough to try, but it's inspiring to see them used as well as the mix of patterns and textures.

pve design said...

I never even discriminated as I looked at each photo, never even realizing color would be a fear to embrace.
I love color. I thank my parents for my love of color.
Stunning post.

mrsben said...

I love pattern, texture and 'blue'.

I don't think I actually have a 'fear' of color as much as it's causing me a 'dilemma'. As stated I LOVE 'blue' and am having difficulty in making a decision.

Though it is often critizized as being 'cold/uncaring' I have learned with the proper shades (or used sparingly);
psychologically it can be very calming. It has many wonderful attributes besides being the most common favourite color! (Maybe another topic for you Angelo?)

As I am proposing upgrades and to redecorate, do I go with 'blue' again? Oh decisions, decisions and DILEMMA (flying pigs?) with a pinch of FEAR!


Nani said...

"all success come from splendid failure"... genius.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and your writing style is genius and exactly hat we need in s decor book.

Love your style.

Anonymous said...

You've met someone. You like them. You want to date them. What would date-night, Angelo-style, look like? *Imagining that you are the most charming evening out partner around!*

Anonymous said...

REALLY beautiful images. House Beautiful has always provided lovely pictures to look at. i find them quite inspiring, but I must say the writing is always a bit lack luster in comparison. Also, ever since they dissed you and 24HD, I have a bad taste in my mouth about their lack of understanding the real world and the nature of the show. BTW, they have no idea what they are talking about. All your shows are amazing in different ways.

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