Madonna and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among the big-name clients who have turned to interior designer Jamie Drake to create playful rooms. Known for weaving unconventional hues (hot pink and chocolate, ebony and purple) with contemporary art, the New York designer recently doled out tips on making your pad look more posh at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. We caught up with him to chat about decorating with color.
How did you learn to combine colors in such a wild way?
Childhood exposure to museums and contemporary art gave me this background where I can be brave yet use color in a painterly way. Some people look at my work and think it's all color. But I'm trying to use color as accents in small, repetitive ways.
What's your favorite color?
That would be like picking my favorite child! But I do feel a trend toward less-saturated colors: orchid, mint, aqua.
Is there a popular color combo that needs to go away?
As much as I love it, chocolate brown and pale blue has been done to death. And bright, intense orange and lime green — that's a color combination that's become Target-ized. It's everywhere.
How important is the interplay between art and color in decor?
I'm passionate about using art in interiors. I look for art that'll add harmony and piquancy to a space. Sometimes you want something that'll break up a color story you've established, which can energize a room. Other times, you're looking for a calming effect. Like, by grouping black-and-white art — etchings, photographs — together, you can create a wonderful dialogue.
Any big design mistake someone on a budget can make?
Not having a long view. If you are going to be in a space for a while, you have to move slowly. Don't buy stuff that doesn't evoke quality or stand up to the test of time. Buy less, but buy good.
What's a good way to make a big decor statement without spending big bucks?
Combine wonderful inexpensive things from places like CB2 and Restoration Hardware with old vintage pieces. I think lamps are a wonderful thing to find vintage, and they break up the sameness of a room. Put playful lampshades on them that you've dipped in Rit Dye or graffitied.
What's inspiring your work now?
I just saw Chéri, the new Michelle Pfeiffer movie. It's got beautiful, over-the-top embellishments. The sets were so inspiring!
Is designing for famous clients different from designing for ordinary people?
No, I think everyone, whether they are high-profile or the average Joe or Josephine, is looking for homes that evoke their personalities and aren't bland.