Clean and Serene
Claire Paquin, owner of Clean Design in Scarsdale, is known for her fabulous-without-fuss design aesthetic. Here, she shares the secrets of her visual style.
Photo by Ken Gabrielsen
Q: How would you describe your approach to design? Since you named your firm Clean Design, I’m guessing that’s a big part of it.
A: Yes! I named the firm very strategically and wanted it to reflect my style, which is clean and contemporary. I don’t like a lot of clutter or fuss. I like streamlined, simple, functional, and comfortable. My aesthetic is not modern, and it’s definitely not traditional. I can work in both of those styles, but the style I prefer is contemporary.
Q: How important is the “comfortable” part?
A: Very important. If something is uncomfortable or too fussy or too intricate or too ornate, I tend to stay away from it. My typical client is a family, and in today’s world the design needs to work for the family and be comfortable. If it’s not, people aren’t happy.
The Illusion Cocktail Table from H Studio is also a favorite of Claire's.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: To be honest, mostly my clients. I’m usually inspired by what they’re looking to create. I guide my clients, but I have a very collaborative process. We work together to create the space they want, and I educate them along the way. I feel good knowing that I helped them achieve something they couldn’t achieve without me, and they like feeling that they helped achieve what they wanted in the end.
Q: What are your favorite trends right now?
A: I don’t buy into so many trends necessarily. People misname trends, and the things I tend to like are actually classic, enduring design principles or elements. I love stainless steel appliances and countertops, for example. I don’t really think that’s a trend. It’s classic and will endure. I love Lucite. It’s a great material to mix in when you’re combining fabrics and textures. That’s not a trend. Everyone is concerned today whether gray is a fad and when it’s going to be over. I don’t think it’s ever going to be over. It’s a neutral classic that’s been around forever, and it’s just a matter of deciding whether you prefer cool versus warm. White is not over and beige is not over either!
Beautiful faux flower arrangements are a go-to for Claire.
Q: Do you have any favorite home accent pieces—a paint color, a wallpaper, a fabric?
A: I’m a huge fan of wallpaper and a big fan of color, too. My design style is known for being both neutral and very colorful. After the neutral base has been sufficiently created, I layer on color through artwork; pillows; and bright, fun fabrics. I don’t overdo it on the pillows, but they’re an easy way to add color and personality. And artwork is a must; you have to finish your space. Another accessory I really love is faux floral arrangements. They look so real and have no maintenance, and they’re inexpensive once you consider the cost of fresh flowers.
Q: What do you like to do differently to a home in the summer?
A: I try not to make a design season-specific because most people have busy lives and don’t have time to be constantly changing things in their homes. I focus more on the exterior. I’m a big fan of planting white impatiens along a border in a big, long row in the front of your house. This adds curb appeal, and it feels good to drive up to your house and see those flowers every day. The white is a neutral, and then I put colored flowers in pots, whether flanking the front door or at the entrance to a pathway. Again, I like to use impatiens because they’re hardy and low maintenance, and I use a mix of colors—orange, pink, and purple. This is similar to my design aesthetic: The majority is neutral, then I add colorful accents.
Q: What advice would you give to a homeowner who’s looking to redecorate, whether through a major renovation or a DIY project?
A: Keep it neutral until the end. I see a lot of people make mistakes with color. Adding color can be fun and amazing, but it can be tricky, so it’s better to add color last. Another tip: Buy the rug bigger than you think it should be, and buy the lighting bigger than you think it should be. People tend to go too small on both of those!
Claire loves using the metallic wallcovering Helio 3.0 from Innovations.