The Inside Man: Michael's Design District Home

The Inside Man: Michael's Design District Home

Maxwell Ryan
Aug 31, 2010
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Name: Michael Brandes
Location: Design District, Dallas, TX
Style: New contemporary construction in need of character

This is the story of how one color can totally change the feel of a room. With the help of Valspar Paint, I've been helping Michael redesign his Dallas apartment, and we're preparing for the final reveal on Thursday.

I have to give Michael a shout-out for being really brave on this room re-do and trusting us to try an out of the ordinary color. Before, his living room accent wall was a deep "Chinese Red." It was the previous tenant's choice, and it "worked" but it didn't feel good to Michael. We chose a rustic, Tuscan rose that was much more in line with his was a small color change with a big impact.

I admit, corals and roses aren't the first colors most people associate with masculine style, but Michael's room needed something warm and light. The more I thought about the room, the more I realized we needed to stick with a similar color (red) but change the tone to radically change the room. Sometimes the choice isn't about changing color; sometimes it's about changing the richness and hue of a color you already love.

I sent Michael four different samples, and when he tried them out on his walls, we ruled out three right away and zeroed in on the new tone. The pinks were TOO pink for this room, the coral was a couple shades too light, but Poppy Petal was exactly the kind of color that could brighten the room but keep it warm and inviting as well.

Painting the Poppy Petal accent wall
The inspiration for Michael's palette came from a vintage French map that had been his grandfather's. The accent wall has the same warm tones, and will be a beautiful backdrop to the map, which Michael had framed.

In terms of painting, this was one of the simplest jobs we've done. Michael's apartment is in a new building, and the walls are in good shape, so we just had to prime over the red, paint the accent wall, and freshen up the white walls a little. Special thanks to our painter, Chip Alsobrook, who was prompt, reliable, and a pleasure to work with. (Thanks, Chip!)

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

The map that inspired Michael's new wall color

On my last visit with Michael, we rearranged his room to make the sofa face the accent wall. There's a small dining area across from the sofa, giving Michael a few different options when he has guests over.

Michael's new accent wall, with his antique chair

Michael's home is by far the most traditional of all the spaces I've been working with on this tour. Part of the challenge is to find new pieces that will help to tie together his existing collection of family heirlooms and artwork. Our stylist, Joe Maer, has been shopping for items that have the same kind of Old World European aesthetic, but with a contemporary edge.

Look for a full resource list on Thursday.

  • Furniture — The main piece we're buying for Michael is a new sofa. We chose one that's got some traditional details, like a tufted back, but feels more modern in shape.
  • Rug — I wanted a Kilim rug to bring some color and pattern to Michael's floor and cover up the carpet.
  • Curtains — We decided to do a wall of curtains to make the room feel like a French salon.
  • Artwork and accessories — Michael already has a lot of pictures, so I just asked him to have his map framed, and we added a few accessories from antique stores to round out his collection.

Looking forward to showing you the final pics on Thursday, when you'll see how we brought it all together :)

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.

Michael's Design District Home: Phase 2 - The Prescription
Michael's Design District Home: Phase 1 - Local Inspiration
• Read more about guy style at
• Check out GQ's guide to guy style at

Photos: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Michael Brandes
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