Interior designer Michael John Weber pulls it all together for homeowners needing creative design guidance.
By Shayna Mace
Putting together a home’s interior is a special dance of fashion and function. Knowing what colors to choose, fabrics to select and furnishings to incorporate takes a special eye—and Michael John Weber of Collaborative Design in Waukesha helps homeowners do just that. This interior designer is passionate about his craft, so we asked him for expert tips on trends, what sources he uses for inspiration and the favorite project he’s worked on.
What’s your background?
I have a bachelors degree in fine art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I’ve been working in residential design for 18 years, all in the Waukesha/Milwaukee area with different companies. I started first with Ethan Allen. I wanted to branch out to [work with] remodel and construction [projects] as well, which is what brought me to Collaborative Design.
What are the most common design challenges that your clients come to you with?
[My clients are] unsure of how much furniture fits into a space. Many times they’ll buy something just seeing it on the sales floor thinking it’ll fit in the room and then get into a quandary when it doesn’t fit.
What do people want in their homes right now in interior design?
Comfortable, kid-friendly and pet-friendly environments where they can be casual and use the room and have it styled uniquely to suit their personality. That’s something we hear most often. When I started, people would design their living room, but never use that room. [Now], everyone is using every part of their house and they want it all styled nicely.
What are the biggest don’ts that you see homeowners do in their interiors?
The biggest don’t for me is painting one wall an accent color that hasn’t been done properly. A lot of people are doing it wrong. I do it rarely, and there are some set rules when I do it. An accent wall painted a different color should draw you into the room. If [the wall] is in your front foyer and you have to turn around and see the accent color, it can be disorienting.
What I think is great is that people aren’t paying attention to what is a trendy color and they’re locking into their own favorite color and choosing to use that. They’re coming to me with a favorite color.
What trends are you excited about right now in home design?
[I’m seeing] things that incorporate copper, because that hasn’t been out on the market very long, both in furniture, accessories and fabric colors.
Digitally printed patterned fabrics are on the cusp of people starting to recognize the beauty of them. Watercolor prints that are done digitally are so much truer and give more dynamic color in fabrics.
Rugs and furniture are getting into heathered wool colors, like unbleached cotton and wools. [I’m seeing] gray, off white and gold with punches of color.
Where do you pull design inspiration from?
I love seeing what Anthropologie is doing in terms of dishes and I think the fabric they use for dresses really influences furniture fabrics for future years. They do great window displays—their workforce is quite creative.
Pinterest and Houzz are both inspirational and great tools. I pull new images from those websites and build Pinterest boards [and] collaborate with my clients and we build what they’re looking for.
What would be your dream project to work on?
I haven’t had a client that’s been interested in Art Deco but I’d love to do an Art Deco penthouse, condo or downtown loft—that would be really interesting.
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