'Trading Spaces' designer doles out tips at Novi Home Show

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

What goes around comes around and color is back in interior design, said "Trading Spaces" interior designer Laurie Smith during a special VIP coffee Saturday morning at the Novi Home Show.

"And I love that," said Smith. But "choose colors that speak to you and don't get so hung up on trends. A crisp white kitchen will always feel clean and open. And that's timeless."

Designer Laurie Smith, left, signs and hands out copies of her interior design book to Caroline Kalvaitis, her husband, Tim Kalvaitis, and Marie Brown.

Smith, who is in town to speak several times during this weekend's Novi Home Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace, met for nearly an hour with the fours winners of Homestyle's coffee event, each of whom brought a guest. The winners -- who beat out nearly 1,000 others to meet Smith -- came from Livonia, Brighton, Superior Township and Taylor.

Smith, who is based in Nashville, is most known for her chic aesthetic and fun, Southern twang on TLC's "Trading Spaces." She answered questions on everything from choosing flooring (carpeting is OK in bedrooms but hardwood floors are best in your main rooms) to how to choose a general contractor (do your homework and hold them to a project timeline).

When it comes to picking hardware throughout your home, don't feel like you have to stick with one material, Smith said. You can put antique brass in one room and have chrome in the kitchen as she does in her own home.

Contest winners of Homestyle's Coffee and Tea with "Trading Spaces" designer Laurie Smith, fifth from the left, met with her Saturday morning at the Novi Home Show.

"People are mixing," said Smith. "It's OK. There's a lot more freedom."

Teresa Welsh of Superior Township asked Smith about how to furnish a 16 by 20-foot room in her home that has two doorwalls, a baby grand piano in one corner and a fireplace. Right now, she only has two chairs and the piano in the space.

Smith said look at traffic patterns in the room and advised Welsh not to place a sofa that would block off the piano. She suggested putting two sofas, love seats or club chairs facing each other in front of the fireplace with a coffee table.

"What you want to do is create spaces where people can come and sit and play the piano," said Smith.

"Trading Spaces" designer Laurie Smith signs a copy of her book for William Weber.

"That sounds really pretty," said Caroline Kalvaitis of Livonia.

William and Joyce Weber of Brighton are in the process of doing some major renovations to their home, including updating the kitchen. William, who had questions about flooring and backsplashes, said with so many decisions to make, he appreciated Smith's guidance.

"It was really helpful," he said.

And when it comes to choosing paint colors, Smith, who couldn't comment on whether the "Trading Spaces" reboot will be back for another season, said she was surprised gray became such a huge trend given how depressing it can be from a psychological perspective. She likes timeless colors like white and cream and infuses colors into the rooms she designs with art, rugs and accents.

"White and cream are timeless," she said.