Interview: Designer Angelo Surmelis's Favorite Decor Tips

Interview: Designer Angelo Surmelis's Favorite Decor Tips

Abby Stone
Jun 24, 2010

On Friday, interior designer and HGTV host Angelo Surmelis will be sharing his tips on sustainable living at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles. We got a chance to speak with him yesterday. Here's how he keeps his home fresh and exciting:

  • Start from Scratch: Seeing all the amazing house tours and great products on Apartment Therapy and Re-Nest, it's sometimes hard to keep yourself from wanting to start all over in your home! Use that energy to clear everything out of your room, give it a good scrub and then thoughtfully and carefully start adding things back in. Play with a new arrangement and don't feel that everything that was in there has to go back.
  • Shop Your Own Home: Yes, you bought those night tables for the bedroom but why couldn't they just as easily work as end tables in the living room? Move things around from room to room. Many times all you need is just steps away.
  • Make That Impulse Purchase Work: So you fell in love with a blue Rococo couch, but when it showed up at your door you thought, "What have I done, why didn't I just get that brown mid-century couch instead?" Instead of putting it on Craiglist or donating it, use neutrals to introduce it to your home. Angelo's current favorite neutral is grey. It pairs with everything and gives everything a touch of sophistication and edge. But you can also try black, white, brown and camel. And don't just think of neutrals as coverings for other pieces of furniture. Think whole room: walls, rugs, lamps. That bright blue couch in a chocolate brown room paired with tobacco-colored club chairs on a white felted all-natural wool rug? Suddenly that couch works...and beautifully.
  • Access Your Inner 5 Year Old: Yes, you bought that paper towel holder for the kitchen but that doesn't mean it has to be used to hold paper towels in the kitchen. (Especially if you've given up paper towels!) Use your imagination and look at it with the eyes of a child. Maybe it could be used to hold belts in the bedroom closet? Or real towels in the bathroom? Or scarves and umbrellas by the door. Or...
  • Add To The Story: If that lamp has been in the same spot next to the couch since before you can remember, it's time to move it. Your home should change as you change. That doesn't mean a whole house overhaul. Most of the time that just means decluttering and reworking what you already have. Moving those photographs, bringing in a bigger piece of art or a different piece for the coffee table. Most of us don't even see what's in our space. If we did we'd realize we have too much stuff.
  • Look to Nature: Your home should have a natural element in it, whether it's a table made of sustainable wood or a vase of flowers, to connect with the beauty of the world outside. If you've ever been stuck on what colors you like, try taking a walk through the farmer's market to find inspiration in the colors of the fruits, vegetables and flowers and how nature puts colors together.

To hear more of Angelo's tips, stop by the Dwell on Design show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday afternoon, June 25th, at 3 pm.

(Image:; Cocktail Ottoman in vintage floral ocean blue by home. For more information click

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