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Around the House: Uma Stewart on Current Design Trends, Common Mistakes

If you want to know what’s au courant in interior design today, Uma Stewart is your woman. The interiors that she creates from her South Orange studio are luxurious without being stuffy and always eclectic. Uma is inspired by art, and a well-read, well-traveled outlook on life. Clients rely on her eye and taste to create interiors that are approachable and beautiful. Uma says, “While modern living dictates how we live in our spaces, it is important for our spaces to feel current even if they need to appeal to our sense of tradition.”

I had the chance to sit down with Uma, who has helped me personally with some design challenges at my new home, and couldn’t wait to ask her two questions:

What is trending now in interior design and what are the biggest errors she sees people making when it comes to the decor of their interior spaces.

The five biggest trends Uma sees are:

  • Mid-Century modern is very relevant today. It combines a streamlined and minimalistic approach that is antithetical to our full, distracted lives. It’s current reinterpretation, combined with the forward thinking styles from the 1950’s, are keeping the style current.
  • There is a noticeable shift to lighter woods; woods that are less golden and more beige and gray.
  • For kitchens, Uma sees a movement away from white cabinetry.
  • Color palettes are moving away from cooler grays and shifting to warmer paint choices.
  • An interesting trend Uma has noticed is the desire for a “location home,” such as a mountain house look, the California boho look, or the Northeast look which mixes traditional with modern for a contemporary vibe.

Uma says that we are in an “almost anything goes” kind of moment. Styles can range from traditional to modern and everything in between. But within each different style, there is more of a minimalist and streamlined approach being carried out to counteract our technologically driven and exceedingly busy lives.

We also discussed some of the common decorating mistakes people make.

  • Uma says, “One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they purchase piecemeal. They find a piece they love and don’t put any thought or planning into how it will fit in to their surroundings. All the elements in a design should work together cohesively.”
  • Another mistake Uma points out is that “People don’t understand how to do window treatments and treat them as an afterthought.” She says that anything on the wall, including artwork and window treatments, sets the tone of the room. And because window treatments additionally provide light control and privacy, they are a very important part of a room’s overall design. Time and attention should be spent to achieve the right look.
  • Not updating the structure of a room is a common mistake many people make. Uma says, “Many people are hesitant to enhance the architecture of their homes, but these changes often help make a space feel done and updated.” Designing built-ins for her clients and reworking their fireplace surrounds is one of the many things Uma loves to do to upgrade a home’s architecture. It is often not an expensive change, but it can be a change that completely transforms a space.
  • Another common mistake is one of scale. Often pieces are either too small for a room or too big. And sometimes they are all the same scale. Uma says, “It is important to vary the scale to create a compelling space.”

Uma has been designing interiors for over a decade. Her design work and showroom have been featured in many venues such as House Beautiful, Urban Agenda, NBC’s Open House NYC,, New Jersey Monthly, New Jersey Jewish News, and Millburn Short Hills Magazine. Luxe Magazine has named her one of 10 National Game Changers for 2018. And DécorAid named Uma Stewart Interiors one of the top 10 Interior Design firms in New Jersey.

Check out her website and Instagram (@umastewart) for pictures of beautiful WOW spaces that are warm and welcoming enough to call home.

The Allison Ziefert Real Estate Group is a top producing group based at Keller Williams MidTown Direct in Maplewood, NJ. Allison Ziefert, a local market expert, specializes in Maplewood, South Orange, Millburn/Short Hills, West Orange and the surrounding towns.

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