Ready, Set, Decorate!

Ever wonder how a show house room comes together, and what ideas and tips you can incorporate into your own home? Decorator Stan Topol, designer of this year’s living room (who installed this entire space in less than two hours!) offers up this valuable advice.

Since this is a show house, you essentially have a blank canvas from which to work, but you chose not to paint the room. Why?
If you are a really good decorator, you start with what people already have and add to it—and this room had potential.

Did you see it as a challenge?
Anybody can paint a room. When I took on this show house space, I wanted to do it like a decorator would work with a client. That is, work with what was given to me. The only things I did to the space were to remove the crown moulding and add a chandelier.

Where did you go from there?
The lost art of conversation still exists in my life. I wanted to create one room that’s not based on the placement of a television set, a place where people are actually able to talk to each other.

People still talk? I thought they sat with their laptops while watching TV.
It’s frightening when you flip through a magazine or turn on a TV show; nobody thinks in terms of how light comes into a room, how high a TV should be or how low a chair should be to the floor. I haven’t met too many people who stay at the age of 25 for the rest of their lives. I like proper spaces, rooms that have a feeling of comfort, restraint and discipline of fine art.

And tell me about the art; it’s quite a collection you’ve put together.
There are not many show houses in this country that can claim to have a DeKooning, Ruscha and Frankenthaler all in one room.

But you didn’t start designing the room around the art.
Decorating is an art form. It’s almost a religion. There are correct ways of laying out a room, whether you’re doing a modern room or a traditional room. Once you know how to do a good floor plan and have hand drawn it to scale, then you start looking for the pieces. You never start with the rug, the furniture or the art. You start with a plan.

But people say there are no rules to decorating anymore.
I can tell you how it should be done and why it should be done. You may not agree with my colors or choices in art, but I’m never wrong with a plan.

Not even once.

This room looks like it cost a million dollars. But there is value here.
I got really upset over the price of a sofa I was planning to use for the show house, so I went shopping at AmericasMart, having forgotten what it is like to buy store-bought furniture. It was a fantastic experience. I was able to customize it, and then mix and match it. I was then able to take great antiques and put them in a situation with great upholstery and great fabric and be proud of my results.