How to create rooms that make you happy with HGTV’s ‘Design Star’ Tyler Wisler | Home Front

Tyler Wisler
Jan 12, 2017

New York designer Tyler Wisler believes everyone has the right to be surrounded by great design. He tailors spaces for clients by integrating vintage industrial elements with modern sensibilities. He has been featured on HGTV’s “Design Star,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “George To The Rescue.” Wisler will appear at the Home + Remodeling Show at the Dulles Expo Center on Friday, Jan. 20.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

New York designer Tyler Wisler have a very creative approach to interiors. He tailors spaces for clients by integrating vintage industrial elements with modern things.  He has been featured on HGTV’s “Design Star,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “George To The Rescue.” Wisler will appear at the Home + Remodeling Show at the Dulles Expo Center on Friday, Jan. 20. Let's talk to him about how to bring color and personality into your own home. 

Hi guys! So stoked to be here! Sitting in my hotel room in Orlando since I just saw all the awesomeness at KBIS (Kitchen & Bath Industry Showcase)! I'm super inspired! Fire away!

My kitchen has oak cabinets, brown Cambria countertops, and terra cotta walls. I like the colors, but I live in a row house and there's only one window. In order to lighten it up, I'm considering having the cabinets painted white and the walls a light, warm green. Do you have any color suggestions? Thank you!

White paint on the cabinets is definitely the right thing to do! That's an instant facelift. Also, maybe new hardware, something with a nice polish to it! Green is a wonderful color, I don't have a preference, but always recommend, when you test out the color, buy a quart. Paint that from floor to ceiling and at least 48" wide, then live with it for a day. This will give you the truest sense of it and not have your eyes distracted with other things when the swatch is that big! Good luck!

I just got a new metal front door on my condo. It definitely needs to be painted on the inside (facing in the unit) since it doesn't match my unit colors at all. What type of paint should I use?

I love using Sherwin Williams Emerald line, but the paint isn't really the issue, it's the priming... Make sure whichever company you use to paint it you get the correct primer! That is key! 

Hi Tyler. It seems everyone is installing the same white kitchens these days (myself included)- white cabinets, marble counters, white subway tiles and pale walls. I'd like to keep the clean look but do something to give my kitchen a little more pizzazz and differentiate it a little. Any ideas?

Might sound crazy, but one place that people often over look is the ceiling! That could totally be that fun pop of color! Then the accessories, hand towels, etc could tie that in! Super fun, chic and unexpected!

We have a 1920s home that has all the original dark wood trim and floors. Without sacrificing the historical charm of the house, what recommendations do you have lighten up the interior design of the home? Modern or contemporary style design would seem to clash too much and tradition style is too boring.

Mirrors and several sources of lighting... Mirrors to bounce the light around and at least 3 sources of lighting. This gives you control of what "light" items you have in the space that you highlight! Maybe it's fun art, an amazing furniture piece a punchy rug. Dark isn't always a bad thing, cause everything else can pop! 

What would you recommend for someone who wants some art on their walls, but no budget for it? I’m currently renting a townhome and working on saving up money to purchase my own place, so money is a bit tight. I’m probably going to be in this rental for another 2 years, and am tired of living in a place that looks like a rental. One thing I need to do is decorate the master bedroom wall, above the bed. I also have no headboard, so it feels rather bare. (Not buying a headboard until I'm in my own place). I would love to hang some art, but have a very limited budget to do so. The space wants something large, and everything I already have that I'm not using is rather small. I’ve looked online for inexpensive stuff, but it all seems so impersonal. I don’t want to waste money on something I don’t love just to fill up the space. And I don’t want to waste money on something that only works well in the current space. I can use nails to hang something, but cannot use wallpaper or paint. Ideas?

Do you have one of those swap FB groups in your town? Or even Craigslist, people are giving stuff away all the time! One thing I love, which is a little funky is getting a really old framed painting and literally just taking a single color paint to one side of it. Like the painting was dipped in a fun color, so the actual subject matter of the painting doesn't matter, it's about the modern pop you added to it! All you need is the free art, and either spray paint or regular paint and a roll of painters tape. Then play with the angles and colors! Gonna make you smile!


Hi Tyler! I am eager to get some advice from a man with my tastes! We are in the midst of redoing our living space, and I want to go with bold, masculine colors fueled by a world that has always said no. My boyfriend is aiming for a more relaxing feel, with a soft almost dainty palette which I don't think is really very exciting, do you? Is there a convenient way to compromise on this one and keep us coming to blows? I will say I will have a hard time going with the soft yellows and pinks if it comes to that I mean I can't summon up any enthusiasm for that sort of thing at all but I will consider it if you think it is best since I fully trust your advice. Thanks!

Pick which areas you are most interested in! Maybe your dark contribution are the walls and the floors, then you can give him the art and accessories... 

I'm seriously considering getting a King-sized bed even though we're house-hunting and it's entirely possible that we fall in love with a house with a tiny master bedroom. We have an old queen now and in addition to it not being a comfortable mattress, it's way too small when the kids want to pile in for a late-night bedtime story or a lazy weekend morning. Am I crazy for even considering buying a King given that it may be too big for our next space?

I hate to say it, but you might... The last thing you'd want is to have to walk sideways to get in and out of your bed if you make that move to a king bed too soon! sorry... 

Hi there. How hard is it to install new closet doors by yourself? We have mirrored bi-fold doors in three rooms and I hate them. I'd like just regular doors! My husband and I would like to try this ourselves before hiring someone, so I'm hoping you'll tell me it can be done (without tears, hopefully). Thanks!

There's definitely a bit of knowledge that goes into this carpentry... Not say you can't do it, but you need to make sure and do that old cliche of measure twice, cut once, and make sure everything is level. Last thing you want is a door that doesn't close... Good luck!

another option for free art

Freecycle is an amazing source! YES! Thank you!

How can I dress up these mirrors? There are 2 are in front of the sinks, the third is in the middle at an angle from the other 2. I have thought of framing, but the builders added wall outlets at the edges of the mirrors.

I like your idea of framing... It gives the mirrors a more custom look. Now, because of those pesky outlets, I would suggest you maybe go black, or white, or grey for the framing it out, then switch out the oulets and plates to match so they blend in and look like it was a custom job!

There is one long wall in my kitchen that I am struggling with decorating. The wall runs behind the island down to the windows. Near the windows is my kitchen table and on that end of the wall I have a sideboard with two paintings hung above the sideboard. I like the way this looks but the remainder of the wall is bare and I don't know what to hang there to complete the wall. A decorator told me that the wall needs to be treated as two zones so one zone looks good but the blank zone has me stumped. Since the art work on the good zone are rectangular I'm thinking I need to do something round on the blank zone but what could that be?

Your friend is right... Maybe also a different type of wall treatment. Maybe beautiful round woven chargers that are placed in an artful way on the wall... Maybe just a series of artisan cutting boards in various sizes and shapes, simply hung on hooks. I like when whats on the wall has 3 dimension to it as well as traditional "flat" art... 

These questions are awesome! Keep em coming!

We have a guest room that when we bought our house was designed for a girl (exactly what I would've done) and I was able to bring in my childhood furniture for the room. Alas we only were able to have 1 kid, a boy who has a different and "happy" room. This room has been used as a guest room for the past 12 years. It is time to change the room - get rid of the furniture and paint the walls. However, I have no idea what to do with it. We don't need another game/hang out room and we have an office when I work from home. Any suggestions???

Wow! How many people would kill for an extra room! Hehe! I know a lot of people who would love a room as an art studio, or gift wrap center, maybe just a reading room... Wow! Again, I'm even kind of jealous! 

What do you think are good colors for bedrooms? Mine is blah right now. Off white.

You know greys are still super hot and will be for quite a while, but my go-to is really dark colors. There is just something so sexy and soothing about a rich dark room that just lends itself to slumber. I know, not everyone can go there. I actually used a wonderful medium grey from Sherwin Williams called Functional Gray which was lovely!

Student art sales -- I got a couple of pieces I love at a student art sale at MICA some years ago (MD Institute College of Art in Baltimore). Original works, and definitely not impersonal!

Students are just future undiscovered artists! Yes! I also find a ton of stuff on!

Good dining room lighting fixtures are so expensive. Can you share some cool sources for modern lighting that won't kill our budget?

Living Spaces has a wonderful selection of really affordable lighting. I worked with them this past year, honestly not knowing much about them, but was blown away with their product offering and really great pricing! Also, I mentioned it for art, but Etsy is a place where emerging lighting designers are happening. They just want to sell their stuff, and they are not trying to mark it up to crazy numbers, but just to get what they love into people's hands... Check that out as well!

So much fun... Love it!

Where are good places to find out building parts ?

Speaking of old architectural remnants? Depends on where you live, but there are some really phenomenal sources online to peruse. If you want good quality stuff, 1st Dibs is something you should check out. Or, a place that I love to go to when I get the chance is Brimfield Antiques Market, in Brimfield Massachusetts! Look it up! Fields and fields of the coolest architectural finds!

Our house is a 1930s foursquare (so, a boxy house with four rooms on each level), with a kitchen addition on the back of the first floor. This means original kitchen is now just a small, pass-through room between the entry and the kitchen. Right now I have a small chaise and a wine rack in there, but mostly it winds up being a repository for clutter. It's not really big enough to be used as a dining space (and we already have a dining room and eat-in kitchen anyway), and it's not really functional how it is now. Any ideas on what to do with this weird space?

Maybe it's best as like a butler's pantry? Built in cabinets, maybe not upper, but lower to hid the clutter, and really just be a functional pass-through. Integrate in a wine fridge, and the best thing is, because it's not connected to the kitchen it could be different cabinetry style. 

I have what I call my Old Hollywood Dressing Room or my girlfriends call my Sex and the City room. It's got a full-size daybed for overnight guests/reading and lounging, but also a rolling shoe rack, full-length mirror, clothing racks, perfume tray and other feminine touches. It makes getting dressed in the morning feel indulgent and fun. Yes, it's ridiculous and indulgent, but I love fashion and I've always wanted a room for my clothes, and now I have one.

Can I come visit and we'll play dress up?!... How fabulous are you?!... 

It won't be dirt cheap, but some of the wall hangings (especially rugs that can be hung on a wall) at are very nice. I'm allergic to wool, so I can't really indulge, but I wish I could. Try their Andes region.


Hi - I decorated my dining room before dealing with the tiny kitchen behind it. Now I have a formal dining room (that I love) and a 9 by 13 kitchen that needs to be gutted. Seems if I open it up and combine the rooms I have to give up my silk drapes and formal dining area. Can I have a functional tiny kitchen or do I have to trade elegance for function in my dining room? What do you do in NYC?

If you have a formal dining room, then a door is not out of the ordinary by any means. Keep the kitchen separate. Formal dining and open kitchens are things that normally don't get along aesthetically. Who wants the drapery panels smelling like last night's dinner?!...

I'm about to renovate my kitchen. What things should I avoid so it won't look dated in five years?

I would stay away from natural oak cabinets and glass mosaics. I would recommend a more contemporary door style, maybe just a flat panel, or even a Shaker style, cause that's timeless. White will ALWAYS be in... Although if you choose, maybe do dual finishes on the cabinets. Grey base cabinets with white upppers. Open shelving is something that will be around a while. Also, try to mix up your metals for fun. Single metallic finishes throughout is a bore. There is no rule saying if your faucet is polished chrome every other metal element in the kitchen needs to be that as well... Have fun! That's exciting!

What kind of finish is best on hardwood floors?

What kind of finish? In the past I've always done a Water based finish, oil just took forever to cure properly. In terms of sheen, I like it on the level just one or two shades from being matte. When you go to the extreme of high gloss or ultra matte, it shows every imperfection and bit of dirt.

I really like the white kitchen trend, but I want my kitchen to be different. How do you go bold with color without the space becoming chaotic?

I had mentioned before the one surface that most people forget about is the ceiling! This is such a large piece of square footage that most just dismiss as white. No! This can be so powerful and unexpected! It's impactful and easy, cause it's paint!

In my bedroom, I framed two of my own black and white photos above my bed. They look good, but the wall to the left is large and bare. The two images make it even more apparent something needs to be hung. I'm debating between a shelving unit or art. What do you think?

I am not one that usually goes for accent walls, but what if you just re-empahsized your headboard wall by painting it a different color, or even just basing off the color you currently have but going 2 shades darker so everything's in the same color family? This pulls all focus on what you've created! I just don't want you filling spaces for the sake of filling, if what really should shine is your photography... Know what I mean?

My apartment came with window blinds -- fuax wood ones. Do you recommend installing curtains in an apartment? Does a room need curtains to make it feel comfy and warm?

Window treatments equal instant warmth. Yes. And not even that you have to do curtains, if that's not your thing... A simple soft Roman valance over the top of the window to hide the header would do the trick. Then it's just more to soften the hard lines of the blinds. Go for it!

Is it harder to work with real clients or complete challenges on "Design Star"?

Design Star! Definitely! Haha! With clients you don't have  camera men and sound guys following your every move. It's hard to concentrate and not want to scream... 

Many artists at The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. Not dirt cheap, but artists are open to negotiate. Some artists have signed prints of their work. Besides, it a smashing venue to see artists at work and get ideas. Also VisArts in Rockville.

Yes. Great resources. Thanks.

Any suggestion on how to spruce up a rental? I have what use to be the living room and dinning room of a single family home as a studio apartment, with the kitchen and bathroom through a door. I can't paint or put nails in.

So first off, your best friend is going to be Command Brand hooks. No damage to the walls, cause you will need to hang art and stuff that is personal to you to make it warm. Also, maybe you do something like change out a light fixture that is most prominent to something you purchase. Most rental wouldn't care about a fixture being changed as long as their original one gets put back upon leaving, but this instantly customizes the space to you!

What are your best tips for decorating small spaces - like a studio apartment!

Less is more... Choose pieces that don't have a lot going on. Maybe the sofa would be better with a tight back so you don't have cushions to fluff, which visually adds to the "stuff" in the space. Also, mirrors... So predictable an answer, but wonderfully large mirrors really are an amazing tool to use!

An assortment of plates in a cool arrangement on a wall is a great way to use some of your dishes in a new way

Love love love! Yes! Adds a bit of sculptural flair to the space as well! Bravo!

You have great energy. So often designers come across as elitist.

Awwwww... Thank you! I'm just a regular guy who has been really fortunate in a lot of things. I love what I do, and I really feel like everyone should have a space to be proud of... 

During a difficult transition in my life, I treated myself to a King Size Bed. I wanted it. I needed it. All for myself. I then moved into an apartment with a bedroom about one foot wider than my bed. One step off one side and I was in the bathroom. I didn't care. In the three years I lived in that apartment, I didn't care. The bed meant that much to me.

For some, if it's needed... Go for it! The thing about spaces, is that you are the master of it. There are things that I do and love that make no sense to anyone but me, and that's fine! I LOVE that you LOVE your bed! Awesome!

I need to replace a long out of date florescent large fixture in my laundry room. I have 2 windows but still need a ceiling fixture- prefer not to have "cans" installed . Something that would be ceiling mount. Any ideas?

Flush or ceiling mounted fixtures are awesome! They give you a chance to show a bit of design and personality! 

As a Baltimorean, I HIGHLY recommend Housewerks Salvage on the south side of the city. It's a treasure trove of great pieces, and it's in a stunning Victorian pumping station building which is amazing in itself. PigtownDesign

I am checking that out the minute we get off the chat! Thanks!

Moved into my mother's condo (she's now with sister). Great white kitchen but dark green granite countertops which are still in great shape but I don't love. Any ideas to downplay all that green? Also, any ideas for hiding random floral tiles in the backsplash that is otherwise white (4x4) tile?

Unless you replace the tiles, covering up usually will create a bigger eye sore. Play with your hand towels and artwork, that's as best you can do, then you focus will be on what you love about the space, not what you're not crazy about... Good luck!

Can I just tell you how much I LOVED this?!... Thank you everyone who chimed in with these questions! I honestly feel like I ran a mental marathon as well, but all worth it! I hope you all come down to visit me at the Home Show in Chantilly next week, where we can get more in depth with your questions, and walk away with a few more tips and tricks I've got up my sleeve! Happy Designing to you all! xo

You were a wonderful chat guest and thank you for answering so many questions so quickly and so thoroughly. I wanted to mention my article today that has my interview with Jill Biden telling us about what she and Joe Biden did to the official vice presidents residence to make it their own. Next week, Inauguration week here in Washington, I'm going to have someone from the White House Historical Association to talk about White House traditions and history on the chat. Still firming this up. Until then, thanks and goodbye.

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

Home Q&A archiveFind Jura on Pinterest
Tyler Wisler
HGTV’s “Design Star” Tyler Wisler tailors spaces for clients by integrating vintage industrial elements with modern sensibilities.
Recent Chats
  • Next: