The Big Reveal! Michael's Design District Home

The Inside Man


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Name: Michael Brandes
Location: Design District, Dallas, TX
Style: Old World Traditional

Every one of our Inside Men posed a challenge, and Michael's room was no exception. We stayed traditional in our styling and used the absolute softest of all the Valspar Paint colors so far to brighten and open up this little room off of a kitchen. I know that there were some doubters of this color, Poppy Petal, in my last progress post, but I think you'll all be pleasantly surprised when you see what a great new twist this is on a man's room.

MICHAEL'S PALETTE
This color was really hard to peg. Drawing inspiration from Michael's antique map and a photograph of a Tuscan farmhouse, we tried four colors until we settled on Poppy Petal. Getting a color that reads this soft and warm and doesn't turn into pink is challenging, but we did it. If you look closely at the pictures we were aiming for (above), you can see the match. You can't do this by looking at chips alone. You've got to put paint on the walls and watch it through at least one night and day. Michael did all this after my first visit and we worked back and forth via email and photographs.

Poppy Petal 2001-1C (main accent wall)
Dove White 7002-7 (neutral walls)

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Michael's home before
Take a look here at Michael's before pic. It's not terrible, but it has a heaviness about it and everything is clustered against the left wall. In addition, the dark red and dark furniture make the space seem really disconnected to the lovely light outside. Going for "Tuscan sun" was totally the way to solve this.

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Michael's living room after

Check out how changing the color and moving the furniture have opened up the room. In addition, in a stroke of genius (thanks, Joe!) we removed the awkward door and window shapes by running curtains across the entire wall. The emphasis is no longer on the original dark red left wall, but on the curtains and the soft light being filtered by them.

You can now sit comfortably on the sofa and watch television, but also chat with anyone in the kitchen. And when you come into the apartment you don't see the television right away, as it's obscured on the left.

The dining table was a huge change as well. While I liked Michael's high wood table, this one fits into the room much more and doesn't separate the living room from the kitchen. The wood chairs are favorites. They're vintage campaign chairs that add a great, natural wood texture to the room.

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Michael and I went back and forth on the wall color, and he had this to say when the project was finished: "Choosing a new wall color was scary as all get-out. I was presented with four colors that I would never have chosen on my own, but I appreciate that I was challenged to go with a bolder and brighter color. It really warms up the room in ways I could never have imagined. I love how it pulls significant colors from the antique French map. If it weren’t for this project, the map would still remain folded up in a safe; its beauty and symbolism hidden."

"I absolutely love the new sofa — it was very easy to select and fits right into my room. I would never have thought of a granite gray, but it works well and isn’t the centerpiece of the room — it serves a purpose without standing out like my old, leather sofa, and it's just as comfortable. I look forward to buying some accent pillows for it that pull in colors from the map, rug and wall. The additional seating in the room also makes it easier to have more guests over comfortably."

"I'm inspired by my new room, and I learned that anything is possible when decorating without fear or reservations. This project was really difficult for me to be a part of, since I'm typically a very private person. You helped me to allow myself to let go and to go with the flow throughout this process. Thank you Apartment Therapy, Valspar Paint, and team for helping me to create an environment that not only captures who I am, but also incorporates a sense of my past. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this project — I had so much fun!"

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It was so interesting working with Michael and uncovering his love of old things. While most of his apartment's furniture was contemporary, when I walked in the first time, his heart was clearly in a few items that were much more 19th century than 20th! His collection of family portraits are stunning and a pleasure to find a central place for. His curvy white armchair was desperately in need of company. Now it feels right at home.

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A special thank-you to our painter, Chip Alsobrook, for his great work. And, as always, thank you to our tireless stylist, Joe Maer, and our photographer, Jim Franco, who helped to pull everything together and show it all off in style.

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SOURCE LIST
  • All paint courtesy of Valspar Paint
  • Oval frame spray painted with Valspar Gloss Gray 64010
  • Fern plant stand spray painted with Valspar Pewter Gray 65039
  • Sofa — Macy's
  • Kilim rug and oval frame — IKEA
  • Curtain rods — Target
  • Corner side table, pair of alabaster table lamps, vintage poker set — City View
  • Garden gate, smaller plant stand, tripod floor lamp — Lost Antiques
  • Iron hurrican candle holder, globe, Eiffel tower sculpture, bust sculpture, taper candle holder, carved wooden box, garden sculpture with arrow — White Elephant
  • Coffee table and fern plant stand — Forrestwood Antique Mall
  • Bistro chairs — Lula B's West
  • Marble dining table — White Elephant
  • Small chest of drawers and silver tea box — Lula B's East
  • Carved wall ledge — White Elephant Antique Warehouse
  • Vintage artwork — Michael's collection


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ABOUT THE INSIDE MAN
We've teamed up with Valspar Paint to create The Inside Man, a special feature dedicated to daily (Monday — Friday) posts from Apartment Therapy and GQ about men's color conundrums and style questions. From sofas with cup holders to brilliant bachelor pads, we’re focusing on the décor dilemmas men often bring to us.

MORE FROM THE INSIDE MAN
Michael's Design District Home: Phase 3 - The Progress Report
Michael's Design District Home: Phase 2 - The Prescription
Michael's Design District Home: Phase 1 - Local Inspiration
• Read more about guy style at theinsideman.apartmenttherapy.com.
• Check out GQ's guide to guy style at gq.com/theinsideman.

Photos: Jim Franco

Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.