Q&A: Mark Sikes on how to bring an indoor/outdoor feel to your home

Aug 20, 2020

Mark D. Sikes is an interior designer based in California known for his fresh take on the classics. His work includes many interiors that embody an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. Mark's first book was "Beautiful"; his second book "More Beautiful" is being published on September 1. Mark is known known nationally as a designer and tastemaker and his work in the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York and other showhouses has appeared in many publications. He also has his own line of furniture, lighting and fabrics.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, Marie Kondo, the Property Brothers or Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest, answer your decorating, design and decluttering 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 organizing. For more than 20 years, our Thursday Q&A 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 your own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small.

Mark D. Sikes designs all over the country but his California sensibility makes him keen on indoor/outdoor living. As we all spend more time outdoors, let's talk with him about some ideas for making our spaces cozier and more beautiful. And that happens to be the name of his new book from Rizzoli: "More Beautiful."



Hello Welcome- Im a designer from Los Angles. I have a new book, More Beautiful, arriving September 1st. This  book is a continuation of the story from my first book, BEAUTIFUL, but the special message in this new book is that beauty is powerful, in the midst of so much uneasiness it can unite and help heal us, I truly believe it can help change us. It Doesn’t matter what religion you are, your education, how old you are, where you come from or what you have, beauty can and will connect us all. Let’s all start a Beautiful movement! We need it!-- 

I'm sick of sisal. What other casual rugs are good - and where can you buy them? Not expensive please.

Cotton striped Dhurries are great- Try my collection with Dash and Albert, Annie Selke company. 

What are some good inexpensive cotton throws? I want something I can toss in the washing machine.

Try Pottery Barn or Serena and Lily. 

What paint colors are soothing for a bedroom? Please share the names.

Farrow and Ball Sky Light or Borrowed Light 

What is the most modern way to add privacy to French doors? Simple curtains or blinds?

a blind hung on the top of the door is probably best looking and most functional!

 

How else can we do this?

Surround yourself with the things you love. Make your home cosy with books, throws, plants and cut fresh flowers. use this time to edit and get rid of all things you dont want or use anymore. 

So interesting that the home furnishings and home improvement have had increased sales during this awful time. What trends are you seeing?

People are wanting to do all the things they have putting off- so I'm seeing a lot of people doing walloper again. Not sure if that's a trend but it does make a space happy, colorful and fun!

For those decorating on a budget, what are the best things to invest in that make the biggest impact?

white paint is always great! and if you want to make it easy and always stylish looking, upholster or slipcover things in ivory.I  also like natural fiber rugs and matchstick blinds- they add a lot of texture and always look great!

 

What are some great inexpensive outdoor chairs? I need something around my firepit and want to order online. Please give me some choices that you think are tasteful and affordable.

I love butterfly chairs. They are inexpensive and stylish. Also white Adirondack chairs are fabulous!

 

How do you see families celebrating holidays indoors? Will be hard.

I think like we always have- when everyone is together it doesnt matter if you are inside or outside, love and fun can still happen, I suggest buffet meals from the kitchen island and have lots of TV trays to eat from. May it casual and pick a theme with decor. play great music and have ideas for games. 

I love the concept of beauty in your surroundings. Especially now. How can we do that at home for not a lot of $?

white paint is always great! and if you want to make it easy and always stylish looking, upholster or slipcover things in ivory.I  also like natural fiber rugs and matchstick blinds- they add a lot of texture and always look great!

Can I use a 7'9" x 4'10" rug in a bedroom with a full/double bed? It turned up on Craigslist for a great price but I'm worried it would be too small. I'm imagining it perpendicular to the bed, under the feet, but maybe that's not right?

Yes, it should work fine and look great!!! 

Don't miss my story today on whether it's okay to have professional cleaners and how to make it safer during covid. Here it is.

How are homes in California different than the rest of the country? Your weather makes them all season.

well, there is an ease to them. lots of lectures mixed in like rattan, wicker and bamboo. There's also a mix of textiles, California has a bohemian side and i think it always comes our in the homes here. 

Your book was written before the pandemic. How would you change it if you could to reflect that intense time we are all spending at home?

It was written before the pandemic but believe it are not the message of the book is even more powerful today. The special message in this new book is that beauty is life changing In the midst of so much uneasiness it can unite and help heal us, I truly believe it can help change us. It Doesn’t matter what religion you are, your education, how old you are, where you come from or what you have, beauty can and will connect us all.  

Do you think show houses are done as a way to showcase the work of designers? Between the costs and now the pandemic restrictions, they seem very last decade.

No, I think they are great and provide a wonderful source of inspiration to people, especially now, we need to be inspired more than ever. Im actually doing the Kips Bay Shophouse in Dallas in September. I'm excited about it and I do it to meet people, show are work to people first hand and in this particular shophouse, the organization supports the Kips Bay Boys and Girls club which is an amazing organization doing great work! 

How do you do a room with blue and white without overdoing it? What are key elements? Can you share a few of your favorite blue and white fabrics?

well, i love blue and white so I'm not sure you can over do it. if you want to be subtle just add a few blue and white ceramics to tables or mantle- they instantly add a bit of color and pattern. Fabrics- i love all my fabrics with Schumacher - we have many blue and white patterns that are really timeless and beautiful!

 

What is the best backsplash for an all white kitchen? Please give specifics if possible.

I like simple white porcelain subway tiles OR a slab that matches the counters. 

Can you share some bar carts you like? Whats the best way to set up an elegant bar?

I like vintage bar carts. They are always fun to mix in. Try Etsy-  I always find great ones there. 

I hate those plastic covers some people keep on their outdoor furniture. It looks awful unless you are actually using it. How do you keep your outdoor chairs and seating clean?

Well, there are three options- Hose them down weekly or set clean daily, and let them dry in the sun, bring them in nightly, or cover them. There are pretty decent outdoor covers out there now. I recommend buying them from your furniture manufacturer as they will fit better and look better. 

Whats the best way to arrange a wall of bookshelves? How much should be books and how much decorative items? What are some ideas for different arrangements?

I have a 75 % 25% rule. 75 books and 25 accessories. There are so many ways to do book shelves. I like mixing in boxes and vase, Leaning small art is also lovely. Also good old family picture frames are always good and make a home fee lived in and inviting. 

My 50s ranch has cherry cabinets with slab doors and Black Galaxy granite counters. It's a small space so there aren't large expanses for tile. I was thinking of a smallish penny round, maybe, that wouldn't look so awkward in areas around the window which are only a few inches wide in places. I also thought the round tiles might offset all the linearity elsewhere in the kitchen. Any recommendation?

I would do white subway tiles with dark grout. I like penny tiles on floors not walls. 

I have a quilt that a dear friend made for me in several shades of red, off-white, and blue. I want to match other things in the room to them but without getting a patriotic/Americana look, which the quilt by itself is cream enough to avoid. Any advice?

steer clear of red and just do blue and white with neutrals. the red will be just a touch which will look great. you can balance the pop of red out with colorful flowers, but keep the interiors to a more subtle palette. 

I love your message about beauty - thank you! I'd like some inexpensive club-type chairs or possibly swivel club chairs, or other seating for a family room. Any sources that you recommend?

try Ballard- there things are great! they are also less expensive and have options for fabrics. 

I look forward to reading Mark's new book and thank him for being on the chat today. Next week we'll be discussing how to do laundry - and how to best wash those pesky masks - with Patric Richardson, known as The Laundry Evangelist.You can post your questions by clicking here now. Until then, be well everyone.

Thank you everyone for joining and thank you Washington Post for hosting,  In these unprecedented times lets stay positive and optimistic. Like I said in my introduction Beauty can save the day- Lets make sure it happens by surrounding ourselves with beauty and start a beautiful movement! take care and stay safe!

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 and organizing.

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