Home Decor Interview:
Linda Merrill is one of the most visible interior decorating consultants on the
internet, and with good reason.
Linda's knowledge, passion, and experience in home decor make her very highly
sought after, and those in the home decor industry value her expertise and the
highly informative blogs she writes on a variety of topics for a variety of
We asked Linda to answer a few questions on home decor for us, and we think
you'll find her answers helpful and interesting. Enjoy!
Linda, thanks for sharing your time with us today. Please introduce yourself
to readers who may not be familiar with you, and please use this opportunity to
tell us where we can read your work and what services you have to offer?
Thank you for the
invitation to be interviewed for your new site! I am an interior decorating
consultant in Massachusetts. My business name is
Chameleon Interiors and I work primarily in residential design.
I also write several interior design
which deals in general design issues;
-::Silver Screen Surroundings::,
which focuses on movie set decor; and
-Master of Your Domain,
which focuses on design for the single man.
I also offer e-decorating services
and a "To the Trade Only" buying service for those looking to purchase designer
only goods, but who aren't working with a designer. This service is called
I am also the lead blogger for the
official fan site of
Bravo TV's "Top Design" a reality design competition show.
You live, eat, and breathe home decor. What first inspired your passion in
décor, and when did you decide to devote your life to it?
been interested in how my space looks - dating back to when my parents gave me
the choice of which bedroom set I wanted - when I was six. My parents always
kept nice homes - with the focus on traditional and long lasting, elegant,
furnishings. While my personal style is more eclectic and colorful than theirs,
I credit their careful taste as big inspirations to me.
I decided to get into
this as a professional quite late, however. I attended music school as a flute
performance major and worked in music business, then worked in public television
as a business management executive; and finally in my mid-thirties, I realized
that my artistic side wasn't being nourished and decided that it was time to
make a change.
I attended design school (Boston Architectural College) part time
for three years while working full time and then went out of my own.
You often feature gorgeous interiors from European landmarks in your blogs.
What is your personal favorite style of décor, and do you often find it
difficult to not let it influence the advice you give to clients who may not
share your personal style?
I am a big fan
of European design (after all, our US style came from Europe, originally). I
love French/Parisian design and Scandinavian country. I particularly love and
admire the European ability to mix things up - old buildings with modern
lighting, antiques mixed with contemporary pieces. Their style just looks like
it's evolved over time - it's very organic in nature.
Americans - for better or
worse - are always striving for newer and bigger. So, we tend to tear down and
build new; and we can be very homogenous in our choices too. Hence, the
popularity of Pottery Barn, and granite and stainless steel kitchens. We take a
trend and then beat it to death.
The European style seems much less studied and
more relaxed, in many ways. In my interiors work, I do try to instill this sense
of joie de vivre in my interiors - while respecting the needs and wishes of my
Since I'm in New England - we have a strong, practical streak in us,
which I have as well. I prefer to use much of what clients already own and if we
are buying new - I recommend pieces that are "future antiques" (or real antiques
if budgets permit), and like to mix up contemporary and traditional elements.
Generally, clients seek me out because they like what my portfolio shows. I
don't get client inquires from those looking for modern, sleek decor.
4. You write for a blog called
"Master of Your Domain," which is aimed at single men interested in décor. What
drove you to specialize in that niche, and how has the general reaction been
from men who have read the blog and/or consulted with you on home decor?
It's funny - I
actually got the idea from a "dating" advice book I was reading. Yes, I'm
single! The book posited that if one wants to meet and marry the right person
within a short period of time, it's possible, but only with the single minded
dedication that we apply to our professional lives.
Basically - 100% focus on
that goal, to the exclusion of others. I was still working on getting my
business off the ground and there was no way I could focus only on the one
The idea came to me to try to combine my business focus
with the dating one. My friend Peg McGuire (my co-writer of the blog) and I
started working on a book idea on decorating for single men - and then the blog
came from that. We knew that the book would actually appeal to the women in the
lives of the single man (mother, sister, friend, etc) and focused in that
It's hard to say what men's reactions have been to the blog - as
mostly women comment. But hey.. it's still a work in progress. As is my dating
You’ve been critical of the latest season of “Design Star,” most notably the
production by HGTV. What are your main concerns with the network and the show,
and what would you do to improve the next season?
HGTV in general
seems to focus on design/decorating for the DIY type. Which is fine on its face.
But, unlike shows like This Old House or New Yankee Workshop (see, it's my
public TV connection coming out!) - they don't focus on quality, just surface
Design Star is all about how designs look on television - not how they
work in real life. Challenges that don't offer enough time or budget to do a
real, professional job - do a disservice to the contestants and the viewers. I
am always amazed that people (who can be big viewers of HGTV) have no idea what
it really costs in dollars and time to remodel a room the right way.
And I don't
mean high end remodels, necessarily. Basic family room makeovers done with
plywood and staple guns aren't about quality. I read the HGTV message boards on
occasion - the reverse snobbery and lack of actual design knowledge is
unbelievable. This is because the bulk of the tv shows are about low-budget,
high concept, makeovers.
They used to have a better mix of high and low. But
now, really only Candace Olsen's Divine Design is the only true quality show
they have. And that show doesn't focus enough on time and budget.
The summer is drawing to a close, which means many teenagers across the world
will be starting their first year of college. Dorm room decor is a hot topic
these days, especially (and perhaps exclusively!) among girls.
What bits of
advice would you give a 17-year-old with no clue about décor who wants to
decorate her room? Would you advise they try to bring out their inner
personality, or do you recommend a particular style that works well for
teenagers entering into young adulthood?
Although, I would guess that those who have no idea about decor by
age seventeen will not care all that much. But, if you find yourself with a
roommate who does care and you want to at least work with them - I think solid
colors on the big items like quilts and blankets work well, with colorful
accents in sheets, a toss pillow.
Posters are time honored classics of dorm
rooms - of favorite music groups, movie or sports stars. But, don't over do it.
Too many small items will only clutter up a small space that will fill up in no
My first freshman roommate showed up with a huge trunk filled with
toys and games, plus a 4 foot stuffed yellow banana. (I'm not kidding!). She
took up all the space. As it happened, my mother bought me a beautiful quilt and
pillow sham set that I absolutely loved and used well beyond college.
someone more into design - IKEA and similar stores, offer great, cost conscious
items for the dorm room that will dress it up without busting the budget.
You’ve done considerable traveling throughout your life and career. What major
city in the world, in your opinion, has the best taste in interior decor?
question about it. You just walk around the city, and everywhere you look, there
is beauty - from exquisite gardens and window boxes to the cute sidewalk cafés.
Linda, thanks again for your time and support. Our final question isn’t exactly
pleasant, but it deals with a harsh reality going on today.
With the collapse
of real estate in America, many homeowners are unfortunately stuck in homes they
want to sell, but can’t. With money tight and little hope of selling and
moving, homeowners need low-cost ways to decorate their homes. What advice
would you give a struggling couple looking to improve their home’s interior on a
important to keep clutter to an absolute minimum - invest in storage solutions
that will help keep the toys, papers, etc. organized. An $800 sofa will look
better than an $8,000 one, if that one is covered in toys, newspapers and
Fresh paint -
the cheapest DIY project out there. Paint the walls, paint older or less
expensive furniture. Many people have a knee jerk abhorrence to painting wood -
but, if it's not high quality wood and it looks dated - why not cover it up with
a fresh crisp coat of paint?!
- well lit spaces just look better. If recessed lighting, or sconces, aren't in
your budget - table and floor lamps, even tiny spot lights hidden behind a piece
of furniture or a big potted plant will improve the quality of the light
exponentially. A well lit room is one that has good, even, overall lighting (no
dark corners) and task lighting for reading or other tasks.
Throw rugs are
great on bare floors and also can be used over wall to wall carpets to create
"zones" in a room.
or greens. I have a friend who lives in a tiny house. She has a table by her
front door that holds some beautiful - but not expensive - old silver pieces -
including a silver coffee pot that she fills with tall bunches of decorative
grasses from her garden. At Christmas - she'll fill it with evergreens or
sprigs of holly cut from the woods and in spring she'll put in forsythia
branches. It's big, bold and elegant - and nearly free!
These are good
tips for those who are staying in their homes and for those who are selling.
Either way - making your home feel lighter and brighter, cleaner and prettier works for everyone all around!
We want to thank Linda Merrill again for taking the time out to speak with us at
Decor Medley. We hope she has given you some great ideas and opened your
eyes to new styles out there.
Be sure to check out Linda's websites and blogs. They're loaded with great
ideas, and if you're in the Massachusetts area, be sure to give her a call:
-::Silver Screen Surroundings::
-Master of Your Domain
-Official fan site
of Bravo TV's "Top Design"
Return to Decor Medley Home