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Home designers, art collector say to mix it up

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published September 23, 2015

 George Bulanda, an author and art collector, gives tips on how to incorporate art and antiques into living spaces.

George Bulanda, an author and art collector, gives tips on how to incorporate art and antiques into living spaces.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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METRO DETROIT — Home designers and an antique collector talked about how to combine the old with the new and different textures and metals to create the home of your dreams at the Michigan Design Center in Troy Sept. 10.


Julie Byrne, of Julie Byrne Interiors in Birmingham, presented a program titled “Quick Fix Design Trends” as part of the Art of Design program at the center.


She said to pick your rug or carpet first, then pick out a paint or wall color. Choose neutral colors for walls, floors and window treatments, she said, and make splashes of color with pillows and ceramic accents. She noted that mixing charcoal gray with bold colors — such as chartreuse, lime and hot pink — and pale colors, such as lavender, is trending.


Byrne said that black can be a great backdrop in an intimate powder room.


“Throw in a lot of silver and gold,” she said.


“Ceramics are very popular. … You can get a lot of clean color with them,” she said. “Invest in different pillows.”


She said that faux fur pillows are popular.


“Matching furniture is kind of out,” she said. “It’s really more interesting to put a mix of things together. You can pair something unexpected that doesn’t match. The rules aren’t so hard and fast.”


She credited the younger generation for the trend to mix things up and not follow rules. For example, mix decor from different eras and “put things from your life in your home.”


“What you have should not be a Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware room,” she said, adding that you don’t want your home looking like a museum. “You don’t want people intimidated.”


Wallpaper is very different from “what we grew up with,” Byrne said. She said vinyl paper is a good choice in rooms where moisture is an issue. Also, Byrne said zigzag wallpaper could be an option to make a laundry room pop.


Designer Ann-Marie Anton, of It’s Personal Design in Grosse Pointe Farms, created a meeting space in the lobby of the Michigan Design Center for the event.


“I wanted to show you can mix different art forms and aesthetics to create a whole,” she said.


To that end, she used graffiti wallpaper custom made by the Detroit Wallpaper Company with a “sophisticated” green sofa and bold-print chairs — “an unusual mix of fabrics and finishes to end up with a cohesive whole.”


George Bulanda, an art and antique collector, author of the book “The Way It Was,” and former managing editor of Hour Detroit magazine and Detroit Home magazine, talked about antiques and what they bring to a home.


“They do add warmth and history,” he said.


“I go to estate sales, garage sales and auctions,” Bulanda said. “You can get some very good buys, especially after the economic downturn.”


Bulanda said it’s perfectly fine to mix periods, such as Shaker (described as 19th-century functional wood pieces) with Arts and Crafts (described as early 20th-century pieces designed for functionality and comfort).


“As far as mixing periods goes, designers today are all for it,” he said.


He noted that wood as it ages will get some cracks, but it’s best to live with the imperfections.


“It’s the charm of antiques,” he said, adding that it’s OK to fix a wobbly leg as long as you disclose it if you sell the piece.


“Don’t polish bronze or refinish furniture,” he said, noting that doing so would devalue the piece by up to 90 percent.


“Every room should have books,” he said.


Bulanda said you can buy very good art from emerging artists for “a reasonable amount of money.”


Also, art doesn’t have to be hung the same distance from the ceiling. “Not everything has to be at eye level,” he said.


Bulanda said the best way to display collections is in a cabinet and “not all over. They get lost all over the tabletop.”


And he had one other piece of advice for making purchases.


“Always make sure you like something, and don’t buy it just to match the décor,” he said.

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