As the Emmy-winning production designer for “The Voice,” James Pearse Connelly has an undeniably killer eye when it comes to all things decorative. Whether he’s choosing wall colors, art or furniture, James consistently curates the perfect camera-ready collection in no time.
Lucky for us, he agreed to share his on-set style ideas and tricks of the trade, all of which easily translate into the perfectly styled space in your own home. Even if the only camera peeking into your living room is the one on your iPhone, James’ six suggestions below will have you raking in the ‘Likes’ and compliments in no time!
Whether you’re designing a set for a TV show or a space in your home, there are similarities to achieving your dream room. One of my favorite parts about working in unscripted reality television is that the spaces we create can be transitioned into a viewers’ living room, kitchen, office and more. Our goal is to create environments that are trend-setting, yet functional and realistic in achievability.
Redecorating or starting a new room from scratch can seem intimidating, but if you have a creative blueprint in place, you can really enjoy the process. Here are five of my easy-to-follow tips to creating an Emmy-worthy living space right in your own home!
1. Make a plan and collaborate.
Draw a square and pretend that square is your room. Identify where the biggest source of light will come from in the room when you are in the space. A window? An overhead light? Bedside table lamps? Build your dream arrangement around that. Don’t worry about how big things are—just pretend you are a bird looking down and decide where you want things to go. Rectangles are couches and little circles are end tables. After that, show your friend, partner and family. Listen to their feedback and include what you want to the drawing. Many people have different opinions on how and what you may enjoy. Listen to them—they could have a fresh new idea that’s worth appreciating and incorporating.
2. Budget is important—even in Hollywood.
New sets in spaces and new pieces can spark and prompt us to create, but at a cost. Don’t replace your old stuff immediately. Instead, rearrange them to contrast and highlight new items that are on trend. Yes, we all want new things, but use contrast in your furniture and decorative arranging to point to the new items. Every good movie has a strong supporting character actress that allows the story to work toward the star. A whole new look can be as easy as orange marigolds on your dresser with a new orange graphic pillow, and it wouldn’t be nearly as strong without your soft, cool-colored bedding.
Use contrast in your furniture and decorative arranging to point to the new items. Every good movie has a strong supporting character actress that allows the story to work toward the star.
4. Create arrangements that make sense.
Make small arrangements with your decorative details in threes, but three should be broken into a 2:1 ratio. Layer them together by form (decorative) and function—two functional items with one decorative, or two decorative items with one functional. Once you’ve got your items ready for placement, arrange them by height so no one is competing with the other. For instance, a stack of cookbooks and a cup of utensils with a vase of daisies.
5. Does it work well in the photo?
It’s 2016. Your space needs to be camera-ready just like everybody else’s. My brain is much more pessimistic than my eye. The only way to confirm is by auditioning your styled space to see the shapes and colors working in 2-D. Check the heights of your decorative arrangements and see the color palette through your camera. Does it work well in the photo? Take a furniture selfie and see for yourself—it really helps! And if not, play with the arrangement and take another photo. Audition something else until it’s perfect.
6. Use key colors in pairs.
The best part of color choosing is that neutrals can be a huge character of support. Choose two (or one) of your favorite colors that you want to work in your space and pair the appropriate neutrals with them. We can use these key colors as small accents or larger focal points, but make sure you use the right neutrals that work with them best. If your key colors are warmer, use cooler neutrals to pop them out—cool gray, silvers and pewters, very light whites. If your key colors are cooler, use warm neutrals to make them pop—warm gray, golds, beiges and soft pinks. If your key colors are bold and opposite to one another, use black and white and a raw material like wood or steel to highlight them.