Kim Lewis knows a bit about grace under pressure. In her six years as production designer for ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," she designed the architecture, exteriors, interiors, and landscapes for more than 100 custom homes in 43 states, under the kinds of challenging conditions that kept viewers on the edges of their seats.
In 2012, Lewis worked with a nonprofit team to build an art center in Ghana, West Africa, for children who were rescued from slavery. And she recently designed a 400-square-foot house in Austin for the FYI Network series “Tiny House Nation.” Her architecture and interiors work has been published in a host of publications, including People, InStyle, Lonny, and House Beautiful. Bright color is a constant element in Lewis’s designs, so we picked her brains on color blocking and more.
Q&A with Kim Lewis
You love bright color. Why are some people afraid of it?
Most people are actually open to it, they just need to see it in a way that speaks to them. That’s where mood boards and visuals are helpful. The thing is, there are plenty of designers who do neutral spaces, but that’s not me. My design is centered around color.
How do you help clients get more comfortable with color?
The only way to get to their comfort zone is through conversation. I ask clients, “How do you want to feel when you go into this space?” Then we can use color to reflect a mood. Still, some people don’t like to take risks with color. So the best way to get comfortable is to use it in low-risk places. Pieces of furniture and pillows are easy to change out.
Tell us how you used color blocking in Tiffani Thiessen's daughter Harper’s bedroom and bathroom.
You want to create a hierarchy, to make sure there’s a focal point and a clear path for the eye to follow. Color blocking in threes helps create that hierarchy. So in these rooms we have magenta, bright yellow, and white. The bright pink countertops in the bathroom provide the anchor, white is the canvas, and yellow adds a value of happiness and cheerfulness.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Creative inspiration for me comes from traveling, which is why I call myself “The Vagabond Designer.” I travel to gather things, experience cultures, meet people, and hear stories. Design, like travel, is deeply personal. When we walk into a well-designed space, we should be transported to another time or place.
When it comes to design, who is on the leading edge?
We see the most progressive designs come out of Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries. Generally speaking, to see the leading edge of culture, we always look to the runways of fashion. Having lived in Los Angeles for nine years, I really learned the direct relationship between fashion, architecture, and interior design.
Want to see more of this room? Explore the full Pops of Pink Bathroom moodboard.
Kim Lewis’s Color-blocking Tips
- Look to the color wheel. Choose two to three colors from opposite sides for a dramatic color blocking scheme.
- Use the 60-30-10 rule: For Harper’s room, Lewis used 60% white, 30% bright pink and 10% yellow.
- White is a go-to shade that gives the eye a rest from bright hues.
- Not ready to commit to vibrant countertops? Introduce bright color with easy-to-change paint on doors and bright rugs and towels.
Learn more about color blocking. Explore the trend.
Let Fashion Set the Palette
When redesigning the dressing room in Tiffani Thiessen’s L.A. home, Lewis used white as a blank canvas and let the actress’s wardrobe provide the color. ”When you’re choosing an outfit for the day, the last thing you want is a lot of color distracting you,” says Lewis. Pops of orange integrated organically, via Thiessen’s clothing, shoes, and a couple of Hermes boxes she couldn’t part with. Lewis adopted the same color for the top of a lacquered vanity she set near a window.
Explore more of Tiffany Thiessen’s home. Take the tour.