Michael Trahan, of Michael Trahan Interior Design, is known for his creative and innovative approach to creating extraordinary spaces. Benicia Magazine caught up with Michael to get his take on design topics that often elude those of us lacking the ability to pull it all together.

How do you approach choosing color?

For interiors we evaluate the space and lighting. Is it natural light, incandescent or fluorescent? We note existing furnishings, window treatments, and areas in close proximity to the room. We discuss the function of the space with the client and find out what colors they love or cannot live with. Then we develop a color palette.

For exteriors we assess the front elevation, design and architectural features, what direction the building is facing and how light and shadow play on the surfaces. We look at the neighborhood and develop an updated color scheme that compliments the surroundings. 
Is there a rule of thumb for scaling furniture in a room?

Once we know the function of the room and the focal point – is it the view? a fireplace?- then we can start a space plan. We draw the room to scale and add furnishings to the drawing to maximize function and traffic flow.  
What’s an inexpensive way to make an entryway more inviting? 

Begin by de-cluttering the area by removing any items that do not belong there. The entry is your home’s first impression. Analyze whether you have room for an interesting piece of furniture and an area for hanging art or perhaps a mirror to make the space appear larger.
Add a live plant or tree if space allows. If the space has natural light and great air circulation, a flowering plant on a console or chest is always welcoming. Even green foliage in a great planter brings life to a drab entry.
Another inexpensive way to make your entry welcoming is by updating the colors on the walls and ceiling. Begin with a color scheme that sets the tone for the rest of the home. It’s inexpensive but can speak volumes.
White bed linens or colored? How about dishes?

If kids or pets are not part of the equation, white bed linens would be my first choice – it offers a fresh and clean look and works with most styles of decor. If color is needed, then simply adding colorful pillows with or without a print can add just the right pop of color to the room.

We like to use white dishes with colorful linens and placemats. We can set different themes throughout the year no matter the season. Keeping it simple and clean keeps the focus on the food.

What’s your favorite thing to hang above a fireplace?
A great piece of art. The fireplace is often the focal point of the room so what is hanging above it is equally important. Again, it’s about scale and making sure the artwork is scaled appropriately for the space.