From Modeling to Remodeling

HGTV hostess Monica Pedersen gives her take on how to refresh your home’s look

While in town to reveal her forecast to industry leaders at the recent Las Vegas Design Center’s 2011 Market, Monica Pedersen shared her insights with Vegas Seven on what trends in home design are making waves.

The HGTV hostess grew up in a design-centric household in Chicago with a father who was a remodeler by trade. After a successful modeling career during which she traveled the world, Pedersen returned to Chicago and began her career in interior design. Her combination of good looks and good taste led her into the national spotlight with television shows Dream Home Giveaway and Designed to Sell. Pedersen’s newest project is a book (due out in spring) about designing for life’s momentous occasions.

You’ve said you really love fabrics. Is that where you start the process?

When I got into design I was sewing window treatments, so it was natural. I love patterns, and I start with fabric when I go into any space. Every designer has their way when they start a room. I walk in and I don’t see wall color, I see what fabric I would use. You can take a room that’s painted light blue, and you can change its look completely by the textiles you choose. You can bring in a solid gray or something, and it feels contemporary; if you bring in a blue and white, it’s country. Fabric is the quickest way to change a space.

You have traveled a lot. What places have influenced you?

I would say London. I love shopping in London. I love that English country house look because it’s comfortable. I’m from Chicago, and Chicago is a city that appreciates architecture and great materials, and so my design sense is definitely more traditional than anything. That’s how I grew up, and I don’t apologize for it. I don’t need to be the latest and greatest; it just has to be beautiful.

How does Las Vegas measure up?

I love coming to Vegas and looking at it through the eyes of a decorator—it’s a great experience. I brought my design team, and I said let’s go through and look at some of the applications. There isn’t anywhere else in the world where you see this level of design all in one space. We were at a restaurant at Encore, and I said let’s look at all the surfaces in this restaurant and let’s imagine what it would look like on a presentation board. Could you imagine it? That’s what’s so great about here. If one of my assistants put together a board I would say I don’t know if that works, but in Vegas somehow all of it works. I always tell designers to bring [their] camera and start taking pictures. I do love coming here and seeing what’s going on in design.

Trend Watch

New Americana. Guildmaster’s furniture collection designed by Raymond Waites is vintage-inspired classic American designs.

Oversize Prints. Over-scale patterns and prints add color and look great on accessories and wall coverings.

French Influence. Wall coverings have made a huge comeback, and French-inspired damask prints are everywhere.

A lot of the homes here are tract houses. What can you do in such limited space?

A way to make a house feel more like a home is to add architectural details like crown molding, but in those tract homes they don’t always feel right. I think the best thing to do is to layer. Because a lot of these spaces have more of an open floor plan, it’s important that each of your spaces have a relationship to one another. That may be through color or materials because a lot of those houses are one level, lots of windows, but you have to make sure there’s a harmony between these rooms. When you live in a very traditional home you probably have a staircase, doors are closing everything off, so you have more freedom to introduce different looks.

How do you change a room on a budget?

Color. If you want to introduce color, paint your walls. Some wall coverings aren’t expensive. Lamps and accessories are inexpensive ways to change a room.

What design trend do you hate?

I always say I hate accent walls. They’re usually in the wrong place; to me they break up a room. I don’t like sterile spaces. I hate dark draperies. It feels like a funeral home. It’s very theatrical; I won’t put chocolate-brown draperies in your house.

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Style icon: André Benjamin of Outkast. What he’s wearing now: Vintage bicycle tie, Penguin button-up shirt, Hawkings McGill vest, Levi’s jeans.