8 nifty design tips from Kelly Gale Amen from Houston

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About 20 years ago, Houston interior designer Kelly Gale Amen got a call from Traditional Homes magazine, which had named him designer of the year.

Amen jokes that his answer was to ask if they called the right number.

“I’m so far from traditional that I can’t tell you what it is,” Amen joked during a recent Access Design presentation at Meredith O’Donnell Fine Furniture. “They said ‘the traditional is what stands the test of time.'”

While Amen’s presentation was about art in home design, the ready-made thinker defines art at large, putting as much effort into creating a stylish dog bed as he does. a beautiful living room and sees something artistic all around.

During his years creating beautiful homes, Amen has also designed functional fabrics and art, from bronze benches on display in parks and public buildings to oversized ottomans that are easily converted into dog beds. (The conversion takes place when the dog simply takes over.)

He also founded and supports the non-profit association Cancer Below the Belt to encourage screening and early detection of cancers that occur “below the belt”.

Here’s a sample of his approach to thoughtful and crafty design:

To start: Sometimes meeting a new customer is as easy as asking them what they like and what they hate. Throw away the “hates” and focus on the “loves” and you will find success, he said.

Household inventory: New design projects don’t have to start with an empty shell, although they do sometimes. Amen likes to assess what an owner already has and see if it works well in another room. “It’s like the flip in real estate. I change the energy of everything and show how it can work in a different position. It’s a dance, a really wonderful dance, ”he said.

Design around the collections: One client owned a large collection of artwork, so he decorated in a more minimalist way all around, using vertical stripes to play with colors.

Reassignment: When a guest hated parting with a charming but old-fashioned bedspread, Amen turned it into pillows for a new bedding arrangement. Creating new uses for old things is an easy fix.

Timeless style: Don’t overlook the classic style if you are looking for something new. Maximalism may be back, but it’s not for everyone. For a client with a more understated taste, just stick with simple wall colors and counters with a pop of color on the backsplash.

Villa : Townhouses and country vacation homes serve different purposes, and for a Hill Country home, Amen kept a quiet and serene bedroom in a monochrome palette of celadon. What about the old-fashioned wooden seesaw in the corner? He stayed. “Everyone needs a rocker,” said Amen. ” If you do not have a baby, you will soon to be the baby.”

Buy wisely: Amen bought a rug for a client in Kashmir in 1986, and they’ve taken it to every house they’ve had since; it is still in use. “If you buy wisely, you will keep these coins forever,” he said.

Mirrors: The intelligent use of mirrors is Amen’s signature. Sometimes he uses them to make a room bigger and at other times they are used to reflect something beautiful, especially the trees and gardens nearby.

Diane.cowen@chron.com


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