Guest Designer

Our Guest Designer Column is an updated feature in which designers share their views and insights while also offering a glimpse of what inspires them.

Over the past two years we have seen a resurgence of color in the world of interior design. Bright colors and patterns have emerged. Charlotte interior designer Cathy Diel has embraced the return to sharper colors and vibrant patterns.

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Photo of room showing pattern in chairs and carpet

Diel Design & Interiors

Since 2002, the Charlotte firm, Diel Design & Interiors has been capturing the attention of homeowners throughout the Charlotte area. Rather than imposing a signature style, Cathy Diel prefers to design interiors that express who her clients are in up to date and interesting ways. Pattern, texture and color have always been essential design elements as she creates homes that speak well of her clients. Cathy recently offered her insight regarding color and pattern in design as well as a few other timely design issues.

Color and pattern seem to have taken on a bold new life. I’ve noticed in pattern that what was old is new again.
I would agree with that. Bold vibrant colors and stark contrasts are what we are seeing in fabrics and wallpaper. We are also seeing a lot of beautiful metallics in wallcoverings. Patterns that were popular in the past are becoming popular again, only with different combinations. Damask prints or stripes, for example, are being introduced, but in bright contrasts, so you see the design definition – or with metallic accents for a more elegant look. It works great to mix the traditional patterns with a fresher more up to date color scheme. I love that blend.

Pattern in pillows and rug

Haven’t modern patterns also become popular?
Yes, geometrics have become hugely popular. Just like stripes, florals, and textures, geometrics help us as designers add depth to our plans and the solids we love to use. It is just another design we can use to layer our rooms with. I find I use geometrics to add clean lines to a more traditional room or to give a fresh approach to an older feeling room. We are seeing the geometric patterns in rugs, wallpaper and fabrics.

How are you using them?
Most of the homes in my market area are in established neighborhoods with more traditional architecture. Often times they are historic or older homes that have been updated or totally remodeled. Many clients have a lot of antiques and more traditional furniture that they want to keep. This is where I like to throw in some geometric patterns to rugs, wallpaper or fabric. It's a little unexpected and adds interest. More contemporary patterns can be great a complement to what they already have, refreshing a room and giving it a younger feel. Geometrics can take that heirloom dining room set and give it new life.

Thibaut pattern on pattern fabric

Do you have a particular pattern that you favor right now?
There is a great Thibaut pattern called that I love (pictured above). This pattern on pattern look has a great traditional herringbone undertone, topped with a beautiful floral and finished with a touch of shimmer. You are getting everything you want in one great look – gorgeous.

How closely does interior design follow the fashion industry?
Very closely. Great design and creativity will find its way to us from the runway to our homes.  It used to take about 7 years for what was on the runway to hit the design industry. Now it’s months. You can look at the runway from this past fall and see what’s coming down the line. You will see some of that in the upcoming Market – that’s how quickly elements of the fashion industry come over to us, which is very exciting.

How have we seen the fashion industry influence design?
Currently we have returned to pretty, which was gone for a while. Mostly neutrals were being used everywhere. It’s nice to see all the great pinks, corals, plums and other rich colors being used. They are now vibrant, bright and inspiring. As designers we love to use these colors to make a statement. The homes that were designed using all neutrals can easily be transformed with some colorful accessories, pillows, lamps, rugs or artwork. Just like in fashion, where that fabulous black dress and nude heels regain new life with just the addition of a bold pair of emerald pumps and a funky nail polish. With all that being said, I see pastels being the next color palette coming off the runway and to our home interiors.

Do you have clients that are hesitant to embrace color in design
Definitely. People are often unsure and afraid of making a design mistake so they want to play it safe and do everything in neutral. Our job as designers is to ask the right questions, and I usually start with what colors they like to see themselves in. I then tend to build off of that and push them to the edge of their comfort zone. I like to surprise the client with a couple of unexpected items and that usually turns out to be some of their favorite things.

People are comfortable using bright colors in their children's rooms but hesitant to go for it in their common living areas. With the abundance of products now available in these new colors, designers can help homeowners dip their toe in the color pool and take the plunge!

Living room in pattern

How has Pinterest influenced design?
Clients are coming into the first appointment, saying, ‘I saw this on Pinterest.’ I think this is great because it gives designers a jumping off point. I can say, ‘Ok, I know exactly where you are.’ It helps them and it helps us – they pull what they love and give it to us. Most people can't adequately describe their style, but photos from Pinterest say everything they can’t. Designers can use this as one portion of the creative process.

What are your sources of inspiration?
I draw inspiration from almost everything around me. I am a very visual person and I pull from books, magazines, television, movies, travel, nature, fashion...everything! I try to always keep my eyes and ears open to new and different things. It’s what fuels my creativity. 

What is the one thing as a designer you cannot live without?
I think as designers we are naturally creative or we probably wouldn't have chosen this line of work. But in order to stay at the top of your game you need balance in your life. I need to have quality time with my family and friends.  I need time to reenergize myself and gain perspective through vacations and relaxation time. It is hard to step away from your work, but it is necessary to do in order to take your designs and creativity to the next level.  Oh, and last but not least, I can't live without my Starbucks!