Designers on Design: David Bromstad

Designers on Design: David Bromstad

Abby Stone
Apr 23, 2012

It's no surprise that David Bromstad's show on HGTV is called Color Splash. The lanky designer has a frank, engaging manner that outshone even the bright yellow accents in the lobby of the corporate apartment building that is serving as his temporary home while the show is filming.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I love looking at hotels. Although I do home design, commercial design is my passion. You can do so much more dramatic things with commercial design. But I also love to draw inspiration from restaurants and bars. People are so inspired by being out in public spaces all the time. That's what the premise of Color Splash in Miami is: taking inspiration from all of those fabulous hotels, restaurants, bars, and whatever is out there and bringing it into your home. So I'd say that hotels are probably my number one inspiration, but I literally look at everything. I can find something that I like in every space even if it's not all that great. Then nature is huge and fashion is major. I also look at what other designers are doing. I look at the European magazines, I look at the Australian magazines, the French and the Italian. I love them because they have a different perspective. The Europeans have a very minimal way of living because everything, at least in the cities, is just so much smaller. Americans are all about double refrigerators and houses with sprawling spaces and big beds! To find a queen-sized bed over there is impossible. Everyone sleeps on twin-sized beds. It's insane.

When you walk into a room, what's the first thing you look for?

I have two very different ways of looking. When I walk into a space that I know I'm designing, I've got my design eye going — what's going on here, what's wrong — and I try to figure out what's happening. But, if I'm walking into a friend's house or I'm going to a casual party, I try to turn it off. But I would say the first thing I do is look at the layout and the first thing I do to design a room is to bring in architecture. I take everything out and then I look at a floor plan and I space plan. I look at the pictures and I think, How can we bring some really unique architecture in here?, whether that's crown molding or something on the ceiling or columns. Something to bring a sense of self to the space. So that's probably the first thing I look at in the home: the architecture. I think: What kind of architecture could we put in that would really enhance the space and make it more fabulous and more expensive looking?

What element do you think every room should have?

I think every room needs a piece of art. I think it gives it a personality. i think it tells a lot about the homeowner. It tells a lot about who you are and what you want to feel for the room. You could have a very traditional space but then a very modern piece of art that reveals a whole layer of who you are. I like that. Art tells a story.

What's your design pet peeve?

Rugs that are too small. That drives me insane. And the front of the couch should go on the rug. I like a rug that's touching things and i love a rug that even goes beyond the furniture. It just brings a sense of comfort. I don't get why people are afraid of really big rugs; it saves your floors if you have really beautiful floors and it brings in texture. I know wood floors are coveted and they're great but they're a pain to keep clean. I have black floors and I will never have black floors again. I had white floors in my old house and they were a breeze to keep clean. Black floors show every piece of dust, every dog hair. Another one of my pet peeves is matching furniture pieces: when people buy the matching set. The matching couch with the matching loveseat with the matching chair with the ottoman.

But you'd be okay with two chairs that match?

I love two chairs that match and I don't mind furniture sets as long as you don't buy the set. Buy the couch and then buy chairs from a different set. And not all leather, not all cloth. Have variety. That's what makes a room look more expensive even though it won't cost you any more. I think that's a fault of furniture stores. I get why they do it, to make it easier for people, but why not set up a room that's eclectic? Because that's the style right now. Everyone likes eclectic. Everyone likes collected looks.

What design element are you most guilty of falling back on?

I have two. One is putting an animal head in a room, like faux taxidermy. It brings a sense of whimsy and something unexpected. The other thing I always fall back on: if i'm having a hard time finding the perfect rug, I go to a grey or cream shag, like those from West Elm. Nubby. Textural. That's probably my guilty pleasure. But they always work. They bring in a lot of comfort to the space.

What's your go to color?

Grey. It's a beautiful color, it's simple. It's clean. It goes with everything, there's not one color that doesn't go with it. Neutrals go with it. Bright color. Bold color. Soft color goes with grey. Different shades of grey. So grey is my go-to color.

What's playing in your house right now?

There are two different aspects of music playing in my house. Either it's house music, when I want to be motivated and creative, or, if I want to chill out my attitude a little bit, I put on Adele, 21, and work it out. I love her music. Her voice is inspirational.

Who's your favorite designer? Clothing or home?

My favorite clothing designer is Dolce and Gabbana. D&G. My favorite interior designer is Phillippe Stark. He's probably passe right now, but I still love his work. He has inspired my whole entire house. He's very elegant but there's always a sense of humor, and one thing I love to bring into a room is a sense of humor and whimsy. I was trying to convince my partner, so I took Jeff to the Icon in Miami which he had done. I wanted to bring him there and turn him on to this style that I wanted to bring in because he was saying No no no no no. All he wanted was contemporary: big and black and chunky and grey and that's it. I'm frustrated. I was at a point where I was learning design and honing my skills and I want to bring that sense of flavor into the space because I want to have it photographed. He's arguing: No, not a chance. So I brought him into the Icon public areas and he's saying This is so cool and right there I had him. So Phillipe Stark helped me design my house — literally — and convinced my boyfriend to let me do what I want.

How would you describe the brand?

Make it fierce or don't bother at all! Go big, go bold! Make it fun, make it exciting, make it visually stimulating and just have a blast doing it. It's got to be exciting for everybody!

What piece of art would you most like to own in the world?

I was struggling with this question because, as an artist, I can recreate almost anything, from Renoir to Degas to Picasso. I've got some skills! I went to art school. You know this is my thing so for me to to live with a piece of art, it's going to have to be something special. So, It's not a painting for sure, so I went to my next go-to favorite thing and that's glass, so Chihuly. He got me turned on to glass and again, just like Phillippe Stark, probably passe, but always still relevant. And that's the thing. Those two designers, Stark and Chihuly, are the two designers that brought in the power of excitement that I never had before in that medium or in that style, and it brought in a real sense of self for me and I found out who I was as a designer by learning from them and being inspired by them. If I had to narrow it down to Chihuly's one piece it's his Bridge of Glass. It's amazing. it's just so much color and I like it that it's art but it's on the ceiling. It's unconventional. I think unconventional art to me is the most fun. And the ceiling to me is one of those walls that you have to address. I mean if you have taller than an 8 foot ceiling, paint it! Paint it fun, paint it a great color. Like one of my favorite episodes [of Color Splash] was two episodes ago. It was inspired by the parking garage in Miami Beach and it had vaulted ceilings 10 to 14 feet high and I painted the ceiling black. I just love it. It makes it feel cozy and warm and it's fabulous. I mean I have been begging my boyfriend to paint the ceiling in our guest room pink. because it would just glow. I love pink. it's probably one of my favorite colors and it's just under utilized in my house. I'm like bring on the pink!

Finding the right pink is hard! Either they go Pepto Bismol or they're child-like or they're kind of weird and vaguely pornographic.

There are a few shades of pink that are really great but it's got to be perfect and it's got to be combined with some fairly neutral pieces like white and black and grey just to tone the excitement of the pink down. It's definitely a difficult color. (Full disclosure: David is working with Sherwin-Williams. For pinks in their line, he suggests Light-hearted pink; Exuberant Pink is a good accent pink). Yellow is another one of those difficult colors. I'd never paint a room yellow just because it's just such a crazy color, but it's one of my favorite colors. In accents, I think it's great. I love the vivid colors. but I love the calm ones too. I'm a color fanatic. There's not one color that I don't love. Most people are completely afraid of color. I think that's why people like my show, because I'm showing them how to use really bold colors, when the homeowners allow me to, and have it still be family friendly and usable on a daily basis. That to me is so much fun. When you start painting walls lime green and fushia, people are horrified, What the hell are you doing? and I say, Just watch! I think a lot of people — and I've been guilty of it myself — paint a room a color and they immediately regret it, This is completely wrong!. But you have to wait. You have to layer your room. You have to put the art up and you have to put the mirrors up, the couches in, you have to put the lighting in or whatever other kind of structures you have going in and then all of sudden the color becomes a backdrop. You don't even notice it so much anymore because it's not the focal point.

What's the biggest lesson you've learned from when you started to now?

Just go with your first instincts. Always. Never second guess it. I learned that through Design Star. Because there I didn't have time to second guess myself. I brought that over to Color Splash. We don't have time for second guesses! If we actually do order things, we have to go with our first instinct and work it out. So just be true to yourself because once you start second guessing yourself, then you start third guessing and fourth guessing. It's like life!

If you couldn't be an interior designer, what would you be?

I would be an artist. I would go back to what I was before I became an interior designer. I love painting. I love doing installations. I love building. Or I'd do something in fitness. I always enjoy fitness and training and stuff like that. But being creative, especially on the scale I'm doing it now: I'm doing art, I'm doing design, I'm doing product development. It's so fun to encompass every single aspect to a room, custom designing furniture, all of it. That to me is like drugs. Being creative is fun. I love it. Love it!

For more on David, click here.

Catch David's latest show, White Room Challenge, premiering tomorrow at 9 pm on HGTV. Inspired by everyone's favorite episode of Design Star, four up-and-coming designers compete to create the most original room using a variety of challenging materials. HGTV's Jamie Durie heads the judging panel.

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(Image: Vikram Pathak)

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