S2S chopped it up with Alex Sanchez, who’s bringing D.C. style to HGTV’s “Design Star” this season.
Alex Sanchez, 26, is one of the youngest contestants competing for his own show on the fifth season of HGTV reality competition “Design Star.”
Sanchez is the founder and CEO of Renaissance Design, an interior design and photography company based in Washington, D.C. We asked the St. Croix native to give us some budget-friendly tips on redecorating.
S2S: Redesigning your home can feel overwhelming. Where and how should you start?
Alex: Everyone is a little different. If you like to entertain a lot, my suggestion would be to start with the living spaces first. If you’re a private person, get your bedroom done first, because that’s where your sanctuary is.
Personally, I like to start with an overall design plan for all the rooms that you have to design. But you won’t work on all the rooms at the same time.
Take your time picking paint colors and make sure you purchase samples and put them up on the wall first. You’re not paying any more money to have a good color on the wall; that’s going to make or break a space.
S2S: Most people don’t use interior designers to redecorate. Why should someone consider hiring a designer?
Alex: I think it’s essential to work with a designer. Most people pay retail for everything they purchase. But designers actually have a discount—sometimes up to 25 percent—so you end up saving as much money as you’re paying the designer. And you still end up with a better result!
A sign of a good interior designer: If you walk into a space and you feel like it’s made for you, but you don’t think you’d be able to [design] it yourself, and it still feels personal to you.
To find a good designer, interview. Look through their portfolios, and have a conversation with them. The way a designer listens to you is essential. If you talk to them and they can spit back exactly what you’re thinking, and give you ideas of where they’re seeing this going and it feels right, base it off of that. It’s an understanding you have to have with each other.
S2S: Redesigning small spaces: give us three tips to do it right, and the biggest misconception about redesigning a small space.
Alex: 1. Don’t be afraid to play with texture. So even if you’re using a monochromatic theme, like a lot of white, use a lot of texture, because it keeps the eye moving and makes the room look larger since you have more things to look at.
2. Wall mounting things, like a TV, or using higher legs on your couch, gives you more floor space. When you see more floor space it gives you the illusion of more space.
3. A lot of people tend to use small objects in a small space, but it actually clutters the space. Sometimes using overscale pieces for accents makes the space look a lot larger and more dramatic.
A misconception about designing small spaces is using dark colors. People think that will make the space look small. But contrasting colors is what’s going to make it look small. Using a key color can make it a lot more moody and make the space feel more intimate.
S2S: What about redecorating larger spaces?
Alex: 1. Scale is a huge deal. If you start using underscale furniture, it looks out of place.
2. Don’t buy a whole set of furniture from one place. If you use too many furniture pieces from one store, it doesn’t look like a personalized room at all. It can start to look like a designer showroom.
3. Lighting makes a big difference: It helps create an intimate atmosphere. You don’t want to use general lighting. You want to make sure you use accent lighting over tables, over artwork, or washing down a wall.
Misconception: something people tend to do is get the wrong sized rug. The rug should completely encompass the space you’re trying to highlight. So if you’re getting an area rug for the living room, it should cover most of the room and be able to partially go under the couch.
S2S: What are some general ways to decorate a space, and save money in the process?
Alex: For accent pieces, if you know how to mix things properly, you can go to Ikea and can pick up a few pieces to mix them in with higher end furniture. Using those stores, but sparingly, can save you a lot of money.
Re-purposing things: sometimes a good can of spray paint, or some sand paper and some [wood] stain goes a very long way for old pieces of furniture.
People tend to neglect thrift stores. There are a lot of nice things in thrift stores and also things that give rooms personality. I usually go to nicer neighborhoods’ thrift stores, because people throw away some of the craziest things. You can find $200 vases for about $5.