For over 20 years renowned interior designer and Certified Staging Professional Cathy Hobbs worked as an Emmy winning journalist, traveling the world covering stories; but in 2003 followed her passion and started the full-service boutique style design firm Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes. Over the last nine years she has gained notoriety as one of the nations top interior designers, is currently a regular contributor to the prominent shelter sites Sheknows.com, Shoptopia, Cotton Candy Magazine, and Ehow; was a finalist on season 6 of HGTV’s Design Star and has been featured on programs such as the Nate Berkus Show, HGTV Top Ten, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and more. Cathy was kind enough to join me recently to talk about where she finds design inspiration, tips for incorporating the latest design trends into your home, how to maximize your space, and much more!
Candace Rose: How would you classify your design style?
Cathy Hobbs: “My design style is heavily influenced by my travels and trips that I’ve taken around the world. As a journalist (which was my career for 20 years), I traveled. I covered a lot of local stories, national stories, international stories and it sparked my interest in travel. As a single professional, I traveled with a lot of my girlfriends who were also fellow journalists, and we went to places like Cambodia, Thailand, Egypt, Tanzania, and a lot of design is influenced by places that I’ve actually been. I’ve been influenced by art, architecture and culture so it has a lot of global influences; there are a lot of Asian influences in my designs. It’s minimalist, it’s global, but it also has a lot of Asian influences.”
Candace Rose: As a leading interior designer, can you tell us about the top design trends for fall?
Cathy Hobbs: “For fall I’m seeing a lot of rich ruby jewel tones- amethyst, turquoise, deep rich purples. I think a lot of people are getting away from seeing the traditional colors that you associate with fall- the mustards and the browns. We’re seeing it transcending into fashion with a lot of these jewel tones.
I’m also seeing a lot of patterns that I really like. I’ve really gotten into using a lot of toile lately. It comes in a lot of different types of materials, patterns, colors, and it tells a story. I think when you talk about fall and seeing patterns that can really translate into different seasons- the toiles, the plaids, the stripes; instead of just getting core items that are just for the season, I’m seeing a lot of trends towards seasonless patterns and colors.”
Candace Rose: How can we incorporate these trends into our own homes?
Cathy Hobbs: “When designing ones home you don’t want to have to repurchase every single season because that can a) it can get rather expensive, and b) I think that when you’re purchasing pieces, I think that you should a) be purchasing pieces over time and then acquiring new ones to basically fill out what would be a complete design palette or color palette. I always tell people to buy neutral chaise pieces and upholstered goods, and then build in the color and the pattern, and the individuality to the artwork and the accents.
When it comes to putting some of these fall trends into your home, I would do it with accessories, through the use of toss pillows, or maybe it’s a drapery pattern or wallpaper, artwork, bedding. But bring it through the accessories, that way if you do choose to change it out you can just do so rather easily as opposed to having to repurchase a high ticket item such as your upholstered goods.”
Candace Rose: What can small space dwellers do to maximize space?
Cathy Hobbs: “I think the biggest thing that anyone can do to maximize a small space is to use a neutral color palette. Palettes in lighter colors and neutrals, those tend to open up space as opposed to close them in. Darker colors do close a space more. I would also suggest that you get pieces that are smaller scale. I would never suggest in a small space that you select oversize furniture or overstuffed furniture. Less is more. Also, select pieces that are multifunctional, that can do dual purpose, dual roles. Multipurpose furniture so that your space still feels very spacious and luxurious, but does not feel overstuffed with furniture.”
Candace Rose: As a Certified Staging Professional, can you tell us about home staging?
Cathy Hobbs: “It’s an international designation. Certified Staging Professionals (CSP) is actually based out of Canada, and I actually became a stager in 2005 in the height of the real estate boom. Staging is very different than interior design, and essentially it’s preparing a property for sale. Design is for living and how a homeowner lives in the home, where staging is entirely for selling and appealing to the largest amount of potential buyers so they can feel this is their home as opposed to purchasing someone else’s individual home and belongings. So that’s why staging involves neutralizing, decluttering, depersonalizing. It’s very similar to set dressing and styling, and that’s really what it is. And now it’s a big part of my business. I’m actually a national trainer for CSP, and I travel across the country teaching people who are interested in starting their own businesses and becoming stagers. Home staging is a real buzz word in real estate right now, and you’re seeing a really big push nationwide, where 10 years ago you would have mentioned the word staging to a real estate professional and they would have said ‘huh’. Now it’s a standard for many. In the bay area of California, it’s literally a standard. There are companies that have inventory that they only rent for stagers. It originated in California but now it’s a national trend. Savvy real estate agents use it as a marketing tool because that’s what it is for every single one of their listings.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about Design Recipes?
Cathy Hobbs: “Design Recipes is something that I’m really proud of and came up with based on what I thought of some of the trends and some of the clients that I have. I’m not a Park Avenue decorator, I didn’t want to be. One of the reasons I started as a designer was because I wanted my designs to be approachable to people. When I was coming up as a young reporter not making very much money, I would repurpose items that I found at thrift stores and look for bargains, and look for things that I could make myself or refinish, or embellish and things like that. I never thought that I could afford a designer. Design Recipes are actually do-it-yourself designs in which I provide the ingredients for how the room was made on the front, and you see a picture of the design. On the back is all of the resource information. They’re available for $3 on my site Design-Recipes.com, and there are over 300 available. People can have a ready made design solution and all the resource design information. A lot of times I was frustrated by my own lack of skill, but also lack of ability to really make a room my own and actually execute something I’ve seen in a magazine. I found it very frustrating to look at all these inspirational images in a magazine, and not have the precise philosophy for how the room came together and why, and let alone the resource information. Believe it or not in most shelter publications they really don’t give you item by item resource information. It tends to be general in scope. A lot of the pieces they may have a little blurb that says ‘owners own artwork or owners own sofa or what have you’, but I wanted to come up with a way to really give people the tools to create their own spaces, and that’s what Design Recipes is all about.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Cathy Hobbs: “Yes, I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for fall:
OVERALL DO’S AND DON’TS
- Do consider using neutrals such as black, charcoal, gray or beige and accent them with a “bold color”
- Do select a signature bold accent piece and build a color palette around it
- Do consider black and white as potential bold color statements
- Do consider an accent wall if you’re afraid to commit to a strong accent color in the entire room
- Do bring color into your décor through accent pieces such as artwork and accessories
- Do consider using cool colors in a space that you want to visually enlarge
- Don’t just tie yourself into one shade of a bold color, consider tints and tones of the same color
- Don’t be afraid to mix vintage pieces with modern
- Don’t use colors that are too grayed down or muted
- Don’t use colors that are too warm in small rooms, it can make a room look smaller
- Don’t be afraid to “go bold”
- Don’t paint the ceiling a color, it will automatically close in a space
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?