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'Project Runway' Interior Designer Gives Tips on Fashion-Forward Decorating

By Mathew Katz | January 24, 2013 10:13am

MANHATTAN — It's only fitting that the "Project Runway" designers' digs are as fabulous as the clothing they dream up.

The hit reality show pits aspiring fashionistas against one another in a design competition while they live together in the Garment District's 48-story Atlas New York.

For the show's 11th season, which premieres on Lifetime Thursday night, the show's interior designer Katherine De Luca brought a touch of runway fashion to the luxury building and shared her decorating tips with DNAinfo.com New York.

She took her inspiration straight out of the pages of Vogue, figuring out what was trending in the fashion world and painting it on the walls of the each apartment.

Since the show's 16 designers spent weeks housed in the Gotham Organization's luxury building, De Luca wanted to make sure they had a space that reflected the trends of the time.

"The idea was to take trending fabric patterns and sort of put their interpretation on the walls," said De Luca, who's worked on the show since its first season. "It's just because fashion and interior design are so connected."

Those include bold, eye-catching patterns on the walls — like houndstooth, polka dots, brightly-colored checkers, and chevrons — inspired by a walk around the Garment District.

Her advice to residents looking to stylishly spruce up their dwellings is for them to identify patterns they like, and then do a quick online search to figure out a specific color scheme and plan of attack.

To get the patterned effect, De Luca advised aspiring decorators to focus on the planning rather than the painting.

"Once you have your pattern motif, I'd say that taping and measuring is 80 percent of the work," she said. "If you can handle that and get it perfect, the paint takes no time at all."

Once the space is painted, De Luca said residents should avoid fancy furniture stores and instead, head to their local flea markets.

"It's always better to mix and match from a flea market than it is to go buy a set of furniture somewhere," she said.

De Luca, a New York native who now lives in Seattle, also recommends not discounting worn or outdated pieces found in the hunt for perfect decorations.

"Especially in New York, you can get a lot of small and really efficient furniture that comes from apartment owners," she said. "You can take a crappy wooden chair and paint it a beautiful color that goes with the room."

For residents lacking outdoor space to do painting or refinishing, De Luca said to act like a true New Yorker and take it to the streets.

"Just go outside onto the sidewalk and spray paint in there," she said. "I used to do that all the time when I lived in the city."

For more interior design tips from Katherine De Luca, feel free to email her at info@katabidesign.com.