Q & A with professional interior designer, Natalie Clayman

by Trillia Newbell

A bare room in a home, for some is like a canvas waiting for its’ master to create a beautifully crafted masterpiece. For others it’s more like an obstacle course with no real exit. What is a gal to do if she doesn’t have a clue about interior design or decorating, yet owns a home or rents an apartment? Sure, not everyone will be eager to decorate their home, but most have a certain style or taste and may not know what to do with it.

That is where a professional interior designer can help. Natalie Clayman has been doing interior design for eight years. Her personal style is quite eclectic but for most of her clients her designs are modern traditionalism.

Clayman shares her expertise in this Q & A:

Natalie designs a bold yet simple bedroom.

Q:  Are there certain colors for certain rooms that are standard for a home?

Clayman:  No, not really. It just depends on the style of the home and how much natural light is involved in each space. I love using bold paint colors or graphic wallpapers in special spaces, like a dining or powder room. Color selection also depends on the individual and how they respond to color, because it creates an emotion or feeling in everyone. For example, somber or monochromatic pallets can bring a soothing orderly feeling to a space. Whereas a brighter or high contrast color pallet may evoke a different emotion all together. I am personally drawn to the latter, I love color!

Q:  If you are talking to someone who is completely inept in decorating, how would you encourage them to begin?

Clayman:  Magazines! They are always the present and future of decorating. To start decorating you have to have a point of view, an aesthetic, or be drawn to something that moves you. Magazines can help someone to realize what they do and don’t like. They are about five to seven years ahead of the what is current, well at least some of them are!  Finding a fabric or wallpaper that you love can be a great starting point

Q:  Is there a rule about how many pictures to hang in one room? What about photographs and family portraits?

Family pictures neatly placed in Clayman design.

Clayman: I don’t think there is a rule about how many as much as what kind of pictures. Using family pictures can be a special way to incorporate a feeling of warmth and familiarity. As for blowing them up and hanging them over your mantle, not such a fan. You can also get creative with art groupings by using objects like antlers or some old architectural detail mixed with framed art or canvas wrapped pieces. A good idea in a hallway is gathering different kinds of frame styles and thicknesses and painting them all one color. That way there is still continuity but everything looks creative and custom.

Q: What is popular or trendy right now in home decorating?

Clayman: Going global for sure! Everything is layered with bright colors, rich leathers, rustic woods, hand dyed dhurrie rugs, and bold Marrakesh patterns and designs. Creating a well traveled and well worn home has always been “in-style” but mainly with wealthy globe trotters.  Now thanks to stores like West Elm and Target, it’s available to us common folk.

Q: What old trend is returning?

Clayman: I would say that Kelly Wearstler, current reigning trendsetter, is doing something old and making it new again, Bravour Modernism. That’s right I’m not sure either, but it’s very reminiscent of early 80′, art dec, Star Wars all combined. It was like a kick in the shins the first time I saw it in her latest book “HUE”, so bad it’s good. I have Kelly Werstler moments quite frequently, when I find an object so tacky and odd that it’s cool. Those are the items that make me happy to see in my home every day.

Natalie mixes natural colors mixed with a splash of bright colors.

Q:  If you have TV’s or entertainment systems, what might be the best location for it?

Clayman: Oh the big flat screen problem, YAY! I think you should devote a space for your TV or large system to function in and leave the rest of the home to being beautiful. Also, you don’t always have to use large over-scaled furniture to house your TV. Pick an unconventional piece or antique and tailor it to function for your system.

Q: Does the style of home dictate the decor on the inside or should it?

Clayman:  That is a tricky question and maybe a situation where someone should hire a designer! A good rule of thumb is to keep the permanent fixtures in line with the style of the home, but the decor can be much more subjective to the homeowner.

Q:  How do you marry style if you have a husband and wife who can’t agree?

Clayman: Definitely time to call in the professionals! Research, gathering pictures, and acquiring samples will be the best way to get started. I find that husbands need to catch the “vision” or see the completed room, and the wives need to be involved in all of the details and decision making. Oh and then there is the “B” word, BUDGET! Shop together and take notes on how much things cost so there are no surprises when it comes time to order your selections.


Natalie Clayman

Natalie inherited the decorating gene from her family. Getting her start in floral design, she then moved into interior design in college, and upon graduating, she worked for a talented designer and  business owner in Knoxville, Tennessee. There, she received the experience needed to create beautiful and eclectic spaces for her clients. Natalie recognizes that the design process should be a fluid and creative collaboration between herself and the client. Her work can be seen on her website, Natalie Clayman Interior Design.

Natalie lives in Knoxville with her husband and two little girls. She is lovingly devoted to them and deeply grateful for the rich and full life she lives.

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