Creative Interiors Founder Launches a New Business Dedicated to Paint Selection!
Alice Silverman, interior designer and owner of Creative Interiors, Creative Staging Specialists, Decorate-in-a-Day Inc. and The Decorating M.D has added a new business – The Paint Lady – to her successful repertoire. The newest business focuses solely on guiding people through the sometimes overwhelming task of picking out paint, and enables them to hire a professional designer on a smaller scale and budget. She has numerous clients throughout Westchester and Fairfield Counties, New York City and Sarasota, FL.
With 35 years of experience under her stylish belt, Silverman is filling a need she has seen for the last few years. Her most frequently asked questions revolve around which color of paint to use and what type of finish. The demand is often for paint only, and sometimes for just one room. “Paint has the biggest bang for your buck,” she says. “It’s a relatively simple facelift that adds instant value to the home and to its owners! Sprucing up, making your rooms look fresh and crisp gives an uplift to most people. You can change your color palette with a few carefully chosen colors and be as bold and creative as you want.”
As The Paint Lady, Silverman visits locations to assess existing elements, taking into consideration fabric and furniture, art, flooring, etc. for interior paint projects. Clients are provided with a detailed paint chart with color suggestions for walls and trim with swatches to save and/or forward to the painters. She has numerous painting contractors to recommend if her clients need them.
Silverman has worked in decorating since she was a teenager. Through the years, she has established herself as a force in the world of interior design, launching one successful business after another. Her collection of services offers clients every level of service and price point. Her initial venture, Creative Interiors which she began in 1983, is a full-service interior design firm for residential and commercial projects. Through Creative Staging Specialists, she uses her expertise as a licensed realtor to prepare houses to sell. Decorate-in-a-Day Inc. is a consulting business for giving direction to do-it-yourselfers and The Decorating M.D. addresses specific decorative and design problems virtually. She often finds people segue from one specific and narrow scope of service (e.g. the selection of paint colors, or consulting) to a more expanded one (e.g. Creative Interiors).
“The art of making things beautiful has been my passion since I was a girl,” she says. “I want to give everyone access to making their space comfortable and a happy improvement with taste and style no matter what their budget is.”
After a long awaited delivery of a custom made sofa my client called me, very upset. “What’s wrong?” I asked as soon as I heard her voice. “Well, the couch looks great, I love the fabric, it fits perfectly in the room and compliments all the fabrics and the draperies”. “Well then, what’s the problem?”
“IT’S REJECTING ME.”
I’ve been a designer for many years, and I’ve heard several complaints, (both real and imagined), all of which could be remedied. But this one was unique. “What exactly do you mean” I asked.
“Well, I can only sit on the front part, I can’t scooch into the back of the cushion.”
“It’ll ease up as time goes on; it’s made to be firm at first. If it was mushy at the outset it would become a pancake within a short period of time.”
“I have a suggestion: I’ll ask my wonderful upholsterer Alex to go to your house and remove some of the stuffing.”
“Terrific, she said. Do I get a refund?”
An easily resolved issue that remains an interesting memory.
It’s been my great pleasure several times throughout my career to be unofficially designated “the family decorator”. It never began that way at the start of the project, it
just evolved. I love being included in family holidays and celebrations, proudly introduced as “Alice” when the guests usually say something like “Oh you’re Alice!”. My clients have invariably talked about me, but in this case talking “behind my back” must have been complimentary – and I assume if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be at their party.
With Deborah and Steve I was initially hired to work on several rooms with them when they had a very large house 10 years ago. I knew their 3 daughters as they grew up from teens to young women.
After several years the couple decided to downsize and buy a townhouse near where Steve worked. I initially was engaged to do all matters of consulting for the construction part of their new home. I tweaked the plans, and selected every sink, faucet, tile, marble, carpet, molding, countertop, placement of boxes for lights and floor outlets, designed all bathroom floors and walls, etc. When that phase of the project was complete we began the decorating part, with selecting all wallcoverings, area rugs, furniture, lights, window treatments, art, accessories, etc. All of this was chosen from floor plans since the house was under construction. Deborah wanted to have everything ready for delivery and installation just as soon has they had their CO.
At the same time as this was happening, one of my clients’ daughters was going to law school. I located an apt. for her in the Murray Hill section of NYC (I have a real estate license as well) and decorated it. When she changed the location of her school, we found another apt. and decorated that. Some of the items from her previous place fit, some went to storage, some had to be replaced.
Then her middle sister secured a rental apt. for herself near the school she taught in: I was asked to decorate that apt. for her.
In the interim her elder sister graduated law school, was hired by a law firm and needed an apt. closer by. Another location, another decorating job!
Ms. middle sister worked hard, saved money, was able to leave the rental and purchased a small condo for herself. We used all the furnishings from her rental apt. which we put downstairs of the new house, and bought new furnishings for the main floor.
Now the eldest sister —are you still with me????— and her husband bought a small house. Yup, I’m doing that one too.
And believe it or not, the lawyer just bought a studio apt. in Manhattan. We’ll need to take inventory of what we already have and use it, as much as will work.
Fortunately for us all we get along really well together, respect and admire one another, understand how to listen and communicate, and they swear I’m inside their heads to know just what to show them that they want.
I’m flattered and honored to have them put their faith in me all these years, and consider me their family friend who’s also their decorator. This is work at its best.
After giving advice to numerous clients on how to downsize their homes, I now was faced with being my own client. And to my dismay I turned out to be a bit tough and unreasonable!
I had lived in a 3200 sq. ft. house and decided after years of hemming and hawing to sell it and downsize to a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apt. It was time to make my life ‘easier’ and ‘simpler’ for all the right reasons: no outdoor maintenance of the lawn or the house itself, no worrying about the trees that had to be cut and removed after storms, no more cleaning the septic, cleaning the gutters, worrying about the weight of snow on the roof that needed to be swept, no shoveling the driveway and paths, and on and on. Just close the door to an apt. and there’s nothing to worry about.
“Alice, you want me to get rid of WHAT ????” became my daily dialogue with myself. The decisions turned out to be endless and unexpectedly painful. I hated to admit to myself how attached I was to my things. They were a part of me, they all had a history or an association, and I had lived with most of them for the majority of my life. But the quest to eliminate had to be addressed.
As you can see from the photos, the living room in my house was filled with furniture and chotchkes.
For my new apt. I chose to keep my antique camel back sofa and a pair of cream colored repro French chairs. The little rocker my grandfather gave me when I was 5 was a must. A pair of antique love seats wouldn’t fit and are now living in storage as is a deliciously comfy down chaise. A pair of rattan chairs had to go. I kept my mirrored coffee table which was relatively new. A large English breakfront that used to be in the dining area is now in the living room with an antique Oriental pedestal from downstairs. I had bought a pair of blue tall vases in California which I re-purposed into lamps – my house had an open floor plan and recessed lights, so lamps weren’t needed vs. the apt. which had no lighting except for table lamps.
The goal needs to be making the new space work without being crowded and NOT becoming an exercise in seeing how much can be crammed in!
There was no architectural interest in the apt., so I painted the long LR wall and the only long(ish) dining area wall dark blue to provide contrast against the rest of the taupe walls in the apt. At least I could use color for appeal.
I have newfound sympathy for my clients when I blithely advise them which items to eliminate for their new smaller home. It’s tough, and I think doing my own project showed me just how much!
Two of my favorite wall colors are the combination of dark blue and taupe.
I love their versatility with other colors and love the contrast of how they work together. My suggestion: paint an important, long wall in a room cobalt (such as Benjamin Moore’s Van Deusen Blue #HC-156) as an accent, and all the other walls of the room taupe (such as Benj. Moore Litchfield Gray # HC-78).
Gold tone pictures and mirrors look great and pop against the dark blue; so do blue and white porcelains of every variety. If you like that look, use vases or ginger jars in all sizes and shapes, and mix Oriental with contemporary. Cranberry, burgundy, and cherry reds work wonderfully against the blue.
Taupe is more interesting than plain beige because of the bit of gray in the tone, and crisp clean white paint for crown molding and baseboards frames out the colors and gives them definition. Plants with white planters, glass accessories, lots of mirrors in interesting frames, and dark well polished dark woods compliment the total picture. Floral patterned fabrics, toiles if you’re going traditional, ikats, geometrics, stripes and plaids, all work well with this color palette.
Although one doesn’t consciously count the number of patterns used in a given room, I usually try to use about 7 different patterns including tone on tones and textures. As long as the mix is well coordinated and patterns and colors relate to each other, it makes for interesting and well dressed rooms.
During the course of my lengthy career I’ve been very fortunate in several ways. I’ve had clients who have recommended me to work with their children as well as their parents! For example, my friends Beth and David have hired me to decorate every room in their home. This process went on for many years during which their kids went from teenagers to marrieds. They watched the renovations unfold, had to move out of their own rooms, deal with the mess of plumbers, electricians and the like while they also had to move to another bathroom down the hall. They thought their old bathroom was just fine and couldn’t understand the wisdom of redoing it – until it was done and they both proclaimed it “drop dead”!
When some of them got married and bought their own homes Auntie Alice was called on to decorate my friends’ grandbaby’s room. I felt ancient.
Beth’s mom Sylvia lived in Dutchess County NY in the 1980′s. She had a pair of loveseats she had inherited from her older sister. She also wanted new draperies and wallcoverings for her home. She and I worked well together for several months. At some point during the process I suggested she put the loveseats she kept in the attic in to the living room. She confessed she hated the fabric on them. She asked me to have my wonderful upholsterer Alex redo them in a peach fabric with small butterflies. Years later she gave them to Beth who hated peach with butterflies. Alex reupholstered them in a green tone on tone stripe. He went to her house to measure and estimate the yardage required. Again. Five or so years later we redecorated the library where the loveseats had resided up until that time; green would not work anymore. By this time Alex knew the measurements by heart and could give me his labor price on the phone. The most recent incarnation is chocolate brown silk with small Napoleonic bees. Stay tuned………….
Four reupholstery jobs on the same furniture in a 30 year time span for 3 generations. If Beth decides to reupholster those two loveseats again I think I’ll suggest she give them to one of her daughters. I know their lines so well I feel like the pieces are in MY family! I’m lucky to be trusted to do so much work for everyone. However if I’m truthful I’ll say that I’m sick of redoing those particular loveseats. Next step – replacement. It’s enough!
What joy! What excitement! What possibilities! At the age of 10 I finally got my very own room. It measured 9′ x 12′ and to me it was enormous. My mom knew what it meant to me to select what color I wanted for the walls……by myself. My choice was pink, of course. But not just ANY pink. I had a very specific shade in mind. It should be soft and pale but not too pale, and certainly not bubblegum color.
Finally the long awaited day arrived when the painter was due. Before I left for school that morning I had been allowed or encouraged (I’m not sure which) to give him explicit instructions. This was in 1956, well before there were paint charts in the world. I came home for lunch and bounded thru the door, horrified at what I saw. The pink was all wrong! It was exactly what I didn’t want. What he had done wasn’t even close. My Mother who was just about the kindest, sweetest lady suggested a solution to mollify me. Mr. Ralph took his large bucket of red and his even larger bucket of white back out from his truck. And in a new small pail I personally poured the right amount of both colors together until I achieved the pink I was seeking. A little more this and a little more that. Success at last. Somehow I knew, although I have no idea HOW I knew this, to experiment with a small amount on the wall and let it dry to make sure it was what I wanted.
Back to 5th grade I went, ecstatic.
Selecting paint colors for rooms I decorate has always been a very exacting process for me. It’s quite a process. After I tentatively have chosen several possible colors I take them outside to natural light, take them inside under artificial light, and lastly see them at night as well as during the day. Finally my colors are chosen. When I submit a Paint Chart to my clients it’s the result of hours worth of painstaking consideration. Who knew that after all the years of being a professional designer my path would have been so influenced by selecting the all important color for my own room?
No, there are no ingenious teams of contractors and decorators who ring your doorbell and pronounce that ‘your miserable and unfortunate home has been chosen to fix up’. Nor are there truck loads of new curtains, rugs, furniture and chotchkies waiting in the driveway to be placed by energizer bunnies who run around like crazy in every room. First they destroy and then they replace. In the course of a few hours magic has happened while the owner and their hordes of children are out shopping at Target. The family returns home in shock and crying out of appreciation. Everybody hugs and kisses. A hearty round of “Goom by ya” is enjoyed by all. I trust you’ve all seen these shows. And please remember that if something seems too good to be true it usually is!
Your life doesn’t need to qualify as being pathetic to use our Decorate in a Day service! For those of you old enough to remember the early days of TV there was a show called ‘Queen for a Day’ where different women in the audience were chosen to tell America their sob stories and were rewarded with things like a new washing machine. With Decorate in a Day everyone qualifies, no restrictions. All you need is a willingness to improve the look and comfort of your rooms without a large commitment, a lot of time, or a lot of money. It grew out of our many years of running our full scale interior design service for residential and commercial interiors (which is still a very active business) when we saw a need and decided to fill it. Not everyone wants to spend a substantial budget, many months, and have a crew of contractors in their space which is often part of what’s necessitated. Yet they want the skill of an experienced, qualified decorator. Taste is part of the equation. Knowing great sources is another. Understanding scale and proportion, where to spend good money and where to save it, are all pieces of the pie required to achieve a successful project. We’ve found over the years (we incorporated in 1983) that our clients often have some of these abilities but not all. We have it all and share our knowledge with you – sometimes gently, sometimes persuasively.
Within the course of 2-3 hours we talk with our clients first to ascertain their needs and problems. For example: What doesn’t work for you? What do you like? What don’t you like? What’s your vision? What monies are realistic for us to use? What’s your time frame? We discuss furniture arrangements, colors, window treatments, accessories, and other aspects of the room besides how the room we’re focusing on relates to the adjoining rooms. We make suggestions and encourage our clients to take prolific notes. We’re happy to use their computer or ours to show them online stores and merchandise we recommend they get. They’re welcome to purchase on their own with our direction or we’ll do the buying and make arrangements on their behalf. Our fee is $750. plus sales tax depending on the state. We deliver a positive experience packed full of useful ideas and information.
Our mantra is to consider our clients’ taste, lifestyle and budget. We recommend strongly not to compound a problem. If you know something in your room/s is really wrong, don’t try to keep decorating around it. Oftentimes its best to bite the bullet and fix the problem before it gets ‘bigger and worser’. (I taught elementary school for 5 years!!!!)
We look forward to working with you, and thanks for reading.
In answer to my own question, I think “exposure” had a lot to do with it. My earliest shopping expeditions I remember were with my Mom and were days I treasured. We took the #4 bus down Fifth Ave. to 34th St., people watching all the way which was a favorite sport. We began our treasure hunt at Ohrbach’s which had all varieties of discount clothing. I think much of it was displayed (really dumped) in large bins where you had to fight the other ladies and pull out scarves, hats, and underwear without really seeing what you had. You took your merchandise to a less crowded section to examine it and decide if it was to be kept or thrown back in to the bin. We usually kept some of the things, proud of our bargains.
Next stop was B.Altman only 1/2 block away which was many categories more upscale than Ohrbach’s. After perusing around there we were hungry and ready for lunch. We saved ourselves for Lord and Taylor’s, a mere 3 blocks away because we loved their restaurant The Birdcage best.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on upper Fifth which required a bus up Madison. We often stopped at Schrafft’s for an ice cream soda. This is where the best stores I adored were located: DePinna, Best and Co., and Saks. What fun to see the fabulous items where quality and style reigned. My Mom introduced me to the world of taste. We couldn’t afford to buy most of the things in these high end stores, but she showed me how to appreciate what they had and mimic it in the less expensive establishments. It was a challenge, fun, and I loved it. For example, every New Yorker knew about S. Klein’s on the Square which was on 14th St. and had great bargains. Alexander’s in the Bronx on Fordham Rd. and Loehmann’s on Jerome Ave. were all of our hangouts. Merchandise in these places was also known as “schlock”. Loosely translated it means “crap”! Although much of it was indeed lousy, (and here’s where the skill comes in), interspersed with the bottom fishing stuff were fabulous bargains. These stores didn’t have great displays or individual sales people to dote on you. However, you needed to have an “eye” to sift thru and find the goodies.
Appreciating and exposure were invaluable to an impressionable young girl. Sharing these precious experiences with my Mother will always be ingrained in my memory. She taught me well.
I often think she taught me too well. When I shop, now alone or with a friend and I see something I love I hear my Mom’s voice whispering : “You don’t need it darling. Put it back.”
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