Nuance is everything in design



Change is important and vitalizing in our line of work.  We all have to be motivated and design inspiration is essential at Hammertown Barn.

I had been wanting to change things around at the Barn in the room where customers check out. The Barn, being a destination store, does not have a lot of “foot traffic”, so the big display piece for soaps and more on the back wall…well…it was time for it to go and time for us to curate and change the look of the room.


Happily, while vacationing in Maine, I visited the Colby Museum of Art, and was suddenly inspired by this gold/yellow room in the gallery.

“YES!” I thought.  That’s where I would begin the journey of my color choices for the room.  Like the gallery,  I would keep the other wall dark grey (Iron Mountain, Benjamin Moore), paint the back wall India Yellow (Farrow & Ball),



and then pick a lighter grey for the other walls that were presently off white.


This is a test!

I thought Lamp Room Grey (Farrow and Ball) would be too dark, so I had the paint color guru, Rob, at Herrington’s, customize a lighter version of it.  Our painter, Mike Cayea, finished the back wall with the India Yellow then painted one of the side walls with the custom grey from Herrington’s.  I thought it looked good, but I predicted Wanda would probably want it darker.  My prediction came true…her first reaction was that it should be full strength Lamp Room Grey.  And, here is where the nuance of design comes in. Wanda believed the India Yellow wall needed a stronger wall color next to it to create drama (and it would also set our merchandise off better).

[click images below to enlarge]

Of course, Wanda was right and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t change directions right now.  I know, most people might think it’s silly to get so deep into the minutia of paint color, but this is a nuance that I felt was important and would make a real difference.  I think that attention to detail is what makes us good at what we do.  So…back to Herrington’s we went with the paint to have it darkened.  Luckily, Mike was a good sport about having to paint that wall yet again!

As I write this, the painting of the room is done and Jess and I are almost finished with the transformation.  Just a few tweaks left to do. Come by the store this weekend and see it “in person” and let us know what you think!


A nice final touch…a Lynn Karlin photograph that just arrived!


This is just a little peek into what we go through in making design decisions.  The important thing in changing or transforming something is to try not to judge your (or other designers’) creative responses.  Frankly, you usually learn more from your mistakes so there is no absolute “right” or “wrong”  just the nuance of your experience and personal taste.

Here are my final words of advice: 
Be open…be willing to change direction…and remember it’s the small things…those nuances…that make the difference between a room that’s “YES!” or “meh”.   



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