Interview with Andrew Downward
The Minneapolis Home & Garden Show reprises March 2-6. It offers local home and garden enthusiasts opportunities to meet with their favorite HGTV personalities, as well as to immerse themselves in the latest trends in landscaping, home design, and decorating displayed by some 700 exhibitors. On March 3, relax in the Lavender Lounge, a First Thursdays event.
This year’s Celebrity Expert lineup includes a number who specialize in a variety of everything from design to paint color selection. Taniya Nayak (Designed to Sell), Christopher Straub (Project Runway), and international designer Jean-Michel Gauvreau will make special appearances, providing tips, tricks, and advice on various topics.
An outstanding feature is the Idea Home, an extreme green, energy-efficient house that puts a new interpretation on a classic style. The 1,600-square-foot domicile takes a holistic approach to the green movement by using materials and initiatives in all aspects of the building, such as structural insulated panels (SIPs), which help houses retain and maintain the desired temperature. The home was built by EPS Buildings, designed by Domain, furnished by Design within Reach, and landscaped by Mom’s.
But even the greenest home needs added input from the color spectrum. Celebrity Expert Andrew Downward, painter and color coordinator on HGTV’s Divine Design, is one of North America’s most recognized paint specialists. He, too, will be meeting with the public to share painting tips and suggestions for attendees at all levels of painting expertise during his presentations March 3-4?.
Recently, Lavender interviewed Downward about the infinite applications of paint in our lives, and he answered some colorful questions for our readers.
Just as everyone who has an iPhone these days is a photographer, so everyone figures that painting is just a matter of picking up a brush and a can of latex. What would you say about the need for some instruction in this area?
Well, they are right in one sense: They will need a brush and paint! The tricky part is what needs to happen before the paint goes on the wall. For instance, what steps are required to prepare the surface for paint? What color and sheen is right for your room? How can you add drama and effect to complement the color you have chosen? Finally, what products and tools will be needed to complete the job successfully? Now, that takes some instruction. If you know the answer to all these questions, go for it. If not, I’ll see you at the show!
What will you be showing Twin Citians at the upcoming Home & Garden Show? Will you have demonstrations, films, hands-on?
In an action-packed hour, this Torontonian will be demonstrating to Twin Citians the steps needed to apply a perfect paint job, how to choose a color that is right for you, and how to add drama to any space. Is it just me, or did that sound like a Star Trek episode?
From what I’ve read, you took to pigments at an early age. Can you tell us a bit about your love of color?
My grandfather was an artist. As a young lad, I used to visit him, and he would let my brother, sisters, and me make our own paintings. He taught us how to mix color, and how to apply paint to get different effects. From this, a love for color was born, but more than this, a love of painting.
Is the physicality of painting part of the pleasure?
No. There is only one thing I can think of where the “physicality” is part of the pleasure, and it is definitely not painting!
When you contemplate a space, how do you feel it? What goes into choosing colors or textures?
I actually spend less time feeling out the space, and more time feeling out—not up—the client. In my shows, I tell the audience that when choosing a color for their walls, first take a look in your closet. Your closet is a great reference when choosing color, because it can show you quickly what types of colors you are drawn to.
What’s the most fun/interesting part of being a TV personality—of having the chance to influence so many others with your own aesthetic sensibilities?
The most interesting part of being a TV personality is getting out and meeting the people who really enjoyed the show. Working on a show like Divine Design is a grind. I was in on a Thursday night and out on the Sunday, just to start over again the following Thursday. There was little time for reflection, so coming out and presenting at home shows across the United States reminds me that the work we did on the show was appreciated and enjoyed. It’s a great feeling. As far as being an influence, my only interest really is to empower people to do the work themselves. At the end of my shows, I hope that the audience has a greater understanding of the painting process, and a sense that they can paint, choose their own colors, and add drama to their space just by following a few simple steps.
How would you describe your own home: style, color. What aspects of your “tips to others” have you incorporated in your own surroundings?
I have six children, so I would describe my own home as chaos! In terms of my color pallet, however, it is based in the deep neutrals, leaning towards the browns. A great tip when using neutrals in your home is to add splashes of red wherever you can. Another tip is to add drama to a neutral room by creating a focus/accent wall using a complementary color such as gold. I applied a gold striae on a deep brown wall with excellent result. The only problem was, it wasn’t long before my 4-year-old decided to experiment with markers. Hey, it’s only paint—at least that’s what I keep telling my therapist.
Color is not an isolated “thing”—it affects mood and other biological functions. If a client shows you their space, and says, for example, that they “like blues” or whatever shade, what would you show them in their surroundings (angle of light, outdoor landscaping, and so forth) that might change (or strengthen) their desire for that color?
Agreed, color affects the mood of a space a great deal. If a client shows me a space, and tells me they like blues, what I usually find is they have anchored their room to complement this pallet. For instance, they have chosen furniture, draperies, and accents that complement this color. If they haven’t, it’s time to be gentle but firm, and make color suggestions that will complement the room.
What else would you like to tell Lavender readers about your show, your work, colors, and paints before they come see you at the show?
I would like to tell Lavender readers that one of the best parts of my show, and the one I enjoy the most, is the question-and-answer period. I try to get to everyone’s questions during this time, but will often continue speaking to audience members well past my presentation time. Also, I am really looking forward to visiting the Twin Cities. I have heard nothing but great things about the show, the people, and the city. Hope to see you all there!
Minneapolis Home & Garden Show
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 2nd Ave. S., Mpls.
Mar. 3 • 5:30-8 PM