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Ryan Johnson, Published February 15 2014

Host of HGTV’s ‘Design on a Dime’ to offer advice to 2014 Home and Garden Show attendees

FARGO - In the era of “keeping up with the Joneses,” David Sheinkopf said it’s easy for homeowners to get overwhelmed when they start to design a room.

Whether it’s the seemingly endless number of paint colors or trying to combine inherited furniture with more modern pieces, the host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” said people can simply shut down when they try to make a design decision.

But he said they should remember one simple tip – they need to make a choice, no matter what that choice is, and not give up.

“I think people need to learn to trust themselves,” he said. “I think with the proper guidance and with giving them some basic tools, you can really help instill some confidence in people so that they can take charge of their own design.”

Sheinkopf said confidence is key, though it can be hard for the less experienced designers to be sure of what they’re doing because we live in a world where most decisions are made for us.

Still, the unconfident would-be designers in Fargo-Moorhead can soon breathe a little easier – Sheinkopf will be at the annual Red River Valley Home and Garden Show at the Fargodome this weekend, presenting interactive seminars and giving his expert advice.

Between 10,000 and 12,000 are expected to attend the annual show that kicks off Friday and wraps up Sunday, said Bryce Johnson, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead.

Bringing in a big name from HGTV should be a draw, she said, though there’s another big reason to attend – convenience.

“If you’re going to be building a home or remodeling, rather than having to do so much research, it’s creatively provided for you all under one roof,” she said. “You’ve got all the different elements going into either building or remodeling your home right there at your fingertips.”

Johnson said about 330 exhibitors will be at this year’s event, giving attendees a chance to see the latest color and design trends, learn about new technology and look into financing options.

Choosing color, avoiding trends

Picking a paint color may seem like an impossible task, especially considering there are literally more than 1 million shades to choose from, Sheinkopf said.

Still, he said it’s important to remember that most design decisions, including paint color, don’t have to be a permanent – if the owner doesn’t like how it turns out or wants something else down the road, they can always repaint.

He advises people who don’t know where to begin on the color spectrum to start with something they know they like: a piece of fabric in their house, the color of a rug or a favorite sofa pattern, and use that as inspiration.

Once a decision is made, Sheinkopf said it might be best to paint a small square on the wall with the new color and “live with it” for a few days to make sure it’s a good choice.

Tricks like this can help sharpen the design instinct, he said, and make it a little easier the next time a decision has to be made.

And don’t be afraid to borrow, Sheinkopf said, if you like a friend’s room design, a shade of paint on a neighbor’s wall or whatever else jumps out.

Even when good design decisions are made, he said it might be tricky to avoid a common pitfall: ending up with a room that looks fresh and modern now, but will quickly become a dated reminder of previous trends in a few years.

“Trends are like kids in a schoolyard,” he said. “It’s what’s hot now and who’s the coolest kid on the block and what’s the biggest flavor. Let’s be honest, we’ve never recreated the wheel, and fashion and design is cyclical. It comes in 10-year waves or 20-year waves.”

Sheinkopf is a proponent of “eclecticism,” the combination of trends and design elements from several periods of time and styles to make for one cohesive room. For example, his living room in Los Angeles has a 19th century table mixed with a contemporary steel and wood piece and a neutral couch with some metal and wood trim on the bottom.

While those three pieces might seem to have little in common, he said it works because the metal piece ties into the metal of the couch, while the couch’s wooden trim ties in to the table.

“I think that’s the main thing with design is people don’t understand how to layer, or they don’t understand how to mix pieces up,” he said. “It has to speak to each other, and that language that it speaks doesn’t have to be the same language, but it has to be able to be understood by each piece.”

Another example, Sheinkopf said, relates to a current hot trend in the design world – mid-century modern pieces from the 1950s and 1960s. It might be surprising, but he said that look actually fits well with Spanish influenced tiles.

Even after picking the perfect pieces for a room, he said many people fall victim to another potential problem – trying to put too much into one space.

“One of my key phrases in one of my seminars I do on proportion and scale is just because you inherit it doesn’t mean it works,” he said. “People try to shove as much as they can into these rooms, as opposed to starting with less and creating more.”

The goal should be effortless design, he said, giving the appearance that someone walked into an empty room, laid out a few key pieces and left. Still, he admitted that’s “incredibly difficult,” even if it is obtainable.

Sheinkopf’s last piece of advice is to keep in mind the cyclical nature of design, and he said people should consider holding onto well-built, interesting furniture – even if it might not fit their current tastes or styles – but only if they have a plan to use it again one day.

“Everything comes back,” he said.

If You Go

WHAT: 53rd annual Home and Garden Show

WHEN: 3 to 9 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 23

WHERE: Fargodome, 1800 N. University Drive

INFO: Admission is $8, and coupons for $1 off are available in show guides and at www.hbafm.com. Two-for-one admission specials also are available from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday and Sunday. For more information, visit www.hbafm.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587