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Try the Adler approach and add the unexpected to room designs

March 07, 2014

Oak Hardwood FlooringIf designer Jonathan Adler walked into a room with wood-stained floors like Anderson's Vintage Coastal Art collection with its cottage-inspired Pickle Barrel finish, he'd immediately add a contemporary touch with bold colors and unusual accessories. Whether he's writing books, selecting a new line for his home design shops or hosting an HGTV show, Adler has built his signature style on the unexpected.

Juxtaposing a whimsical item against subtle colors and furnishings is the kind of decorating for which Adler has become known. But Adler's approach has always been tempered by seeking out the best materials and products for a room design, and that's a lesson for homeowners trying to blend function, comfort and unique style.

When he designed interiors for a New York home featured in House Beautiful magazine, he used black and white as his neutral palette, then added turquoise for side pieces throughout the dwelling - an ottoman in the living room, drapes in the dining room and Fiesta dinnerware arranged on kitchen shelves.

"Mix and match with panache," Adler told Elle Decor magazine. "Don't be tentative with patterns. If you keep your color scheme restrained, you can approach patterns with wild abandon."

New directions
When choosing neutral colors as a base, Adler advised home decorators to try hues such as camel, olive or baby blue. Brown is also a foundation color that he returns to again and again. Adler uses brown liberally, often coordinated with red for a super-chic look.

Adler is also a fan of layering furnishings in unexpected ways. Attaching a brass lion's head door knocker to a contemporary-style apartment door or adding an upholstered easy chair to a corner of the bathroom are examples of his style. One of his designs included a 1960's egg chair hanging from the ceiling of an otherwise traditional sunroom.

The choice of window treatments can also reflect the layered approach that Adler recommends. Bamboo shades, for instance, against sheer curtains or woven shades used with a silk drape bring together different textures and colors.

Whatever direction home decorators decide to go in, Adler has one piece of advice that applies to all styles of home design.

"Make it your own," he told the magazine. "Personal style means having a space that's comfy but filled with stuff that has meaning to you. It should hold things created and inspired by passionate people. Personal style should make you happy and happiness is chic."