Interview: Design Resolutions and Hot Trends with Michael Murphy

Lamps Plus designer Michael Murphy talks 2013 Design Trends with Mark & Theresa. 

Mark: You are back inside MyFixitUpLife with my wife Theresa.

Theresa: And my husband Mark. I’m so excited to be in the new year with you.

Mark: I am happy to be here with you as well. I love putting the old year to bed, starting off fresh.

Theresa: Yeah, like sunshine, waking up in the morning and getting all warm and cozy and tackling the day.

Mark: Sounds like a soap commercial.

Theresa: Or is it like you are in one of those movies you like to watch late night where you have a spear in your hand and you’re running down the mountain, you’re going to do, I don’t know, do some kind of man thing about the year.

Mark: Yes. Spear, mountain, man thing, I lost you at spear.

Theresa: You have no shirt on too in this, and some kind of calf skin, boots or something with the fringe.

Mark: We have an announcement to make at MyFixitUpLife. Theresa’s screenplay about me running down the mountain called Man With Spear will be.

Theresa: Man-Spear 2013 option. Anyway, design resolutions is what we’re talking about today. It has nothing to do with you, maybe it could have something to do with you in your whole new ensemble because maybe that is a trend that’s happening, the whole masculine spear thing.

Mark: You have to man up in this world. I’ll tell you that right now. Our guest Michael Murphy from Lamps Plus is someone who has got a very robust project going on and is here to help us with design resolutions. Michael, are you with us?

Michael: Yes. Hi, happy new year.

Theresa: Happy new year to you. Is the whole man, spear thing something that’s on trend this year in 2013 or am I completely having a wild fantasy?

Michael: I think within any trend whatever works for you is what works for you and you should be happy with it. If man, spear is what you’re into, go for it. I’d be very interested in seeing how you interpret that into interior design though.

Theresa: It would be something quite visually alarming I would have to say.

Michael: It might not be so kid friendly.

Theresa: No, not really that kid friendly, probably more like, I don’t want to say it, but I’m thinking Thunder From Down Under now too.

Mark: Holy smokes. For those of you that don’t know Thunder From Down Under, if you ever get off an airplane in Las Vegas you will see right away that it is the shirtless male review.

Theresa: I have to go a little off topic, more even off topic.

Mark: Michael, this off topic enough.

Theresa: Michael, I have to tell you that we stayed at the hotel once where they do that shows. Mark ended up working out with one of the guys who is in the Thunder From Down Under, so he knows his whole workout routine and everything. That just charms me.

Michael: Maybe you can get him on the line at some point and he can give you some insight or information. I’d like to know how he would interpret that, that new movie that you’re going to pitching. Maybe you can cast him.

Theresa: Yeah, he could play Mark in the movie. That would be fantastic.

Mark: Yeah, because I don’t want to play me. That would be stupid.

Theresa: No, it would be. You would have to sit in the chair and watch and make sure he does everything that you would do. Anyway, designs resolutions, what is on trend for everyone who’s not in same like me, Michael.

Michael: This year, we at Lamps Plus really think it’s really about choosing quality over quantity this year. You should enjoy more of what’s going on in your life and try to spend a little bit less maybe, but enjoy the quality of items. I always call it investment spending. Instead of going out and buying something that’s throw awayable, make a bigger investment or save a little bit more money and go out and buy that thing that you really, really love. Because no matter what trends are coming and going if you love something, that’s going to always work no matter what’s going on in your life or what’s going on out in the design world.

We do have a few trends that we’re really excited about this year. One of them is the French refined look which is still going very, very strong and we’re very excited to have some fantastic new products here at Lamps Plus. We’ve even created a new feature on our website called Shop by Trend. You can go to and see some of these trends that we’re talking about as well and see a product assortment. We’ve curated a collection of different products to make it so easy for you to go in and shop the look and buy the look, and you don’t have to be a designer to do it anymore. We’ve done all the guesswork out of it, but you can take all the credit.

Theresa: That makes it so much easier if you guys are curating everything because there’s so much you can pick from. Being able to have an idea of this style that you want or the look that you want and be able to click on that and see a whole good collection of options is so good.

Michael: Absolutely. We’ve identified eight different styles, one of them being French refined. French is just that warm, charming, classical, European styling that everybody really likes. It allows you to really layer things in your home, layer from the walls to the draperies to the different fabrics, textures, lighting, of course. It’s the distressed finishes that everybody’s still very much liking and loving, crystal accents, carved detail, scrolled legs, all that fun pattern and textures, all those fun things. That’s one of the most popular ones that we’re seeing right now for 2013.

Theresa: That sounds wonderful, so luxurious, and it makes me want to put on some kind of faux fur little jacket and have a nice cup of coffee and have a chat with my girlfriends.

Michael: Exactly. It’s kind of the new shabby chic, if you will. It’s like updated. It’s a little bit more refined.

Theresa: I like that.

Mark: From the woodworking side of things that I always look at when I enter a room like that, I love the structural details that make the furniture come to life or the pieces, shelf brackets, all that stuff.

Michael: Absolutely. The Corbels and just the little hints of glamour with crystal and things like that and the distressed finishes. I love things that have a bit of history to them, personally. It’s nice to have something that’s pristine and new, but I love to mix it with something that has a history to it. We were talking earlier about our houses. We both have four square houses, and those houses have history about them. That’s what I love about things. It should unveil a story as it goes through. It’s a great conversation piece.

Theresa: That is so good.

Mark: My question when I start to think about all this stuff is it actually a design law or statute that you have to have books in there with multicolored bindings and leather bindings and stuff like that because I feel like there has to be a library type of element to that.

Michael: I would definitely. I think you can if you’d like. To me, the French style or the refined style is a little bit more subtle. If you were to use colored binders, if you grouped by books by different colors in your bookcase that might go into more like a global look which is a little bit richer, more vibrant colors and textures. It’s just more world gathered products. I think those bright punches of color would work more in that style. For example, if you wanted to inject a little bit of Pantone’s color of the year like emerald green into the room that’s a great way to do it. You can use pillows. You could collect books that have all that emerald green ideas on it from flea markets to books that you might already have in your home library or throw pillows or whatever it be. Blankets are a great way of doing it. Lamp shades.

Theresa: I want to know what your reaction for the Pantone color of the year is because I know there’s been some strong reactions from different people.

Michael: I actually like green. It’s one of my favorite colors. I was a little surprised. I thought it might be a little bit more on the blue side than the green side, but it’s a great color. I’m not a big person in following specific trends. I like finding what I like and using it altogether. It’s great to have bases like French refined or global mix as resources. I like to take whatever’s trending, for example, like emerald green and inject it into the house in different ways like we were talking through a lamp shade. It’s a dramatic and easy way to inject any trending color, any specific thing you might like, your favorite color even. It’s just a simple way to give to your room a quick and easy makeover.

Mark: Let me ask you a question too. I don’t mean this to come off the wrong way, but when someone is designing a room or going to Lamp Plus and looking at the curated collections, and again I don’t mean this to sound simplistic, does it help to have a favorite color?

Michael: I think so because you’ve already have a favorite color. It’s one less thing you have to worry about. It’s one decision you’ve already made. If you know you like emerald green or blue you can do sorts by that specifically on You can sort things through blue. You can go to the color blue and it brings up the lamps, the rugs, the chairs, mirrors, everything that you could possibly want in your house and it’s already there for you.

Theresa: Our four-year-old announced this morning that his favorite color is brine.

Michael: Is what?

Theresa: Brine, it’s brine.

Michael: Ok.

Theresa: Which is not a typical color that a four-year-old would announce as a favorite color. I just want to say that that is a very unusual choice and what springs to mind when you hear that someone’s favorite color is brine?

Michael: I think he’s educated. I think that’s he’s been around you guys so much that he has that designer eye and he knows those colors. If he’s so specific to that I think it’s fantastic, especially being four years old. I think you’re definitely exposed to design when you come up with that.

Theresa: It’s definitely unusual. I was quite surprised with that too.

Michael: I can imagine him going into school and telling the teacher his favorite color and asking why it’s not in the Crayola box.

Theresa: Yeah, he actually did tell his teacher that.

Mark: We got a call.

Theresa: She texted me and just couldn’t believe that he actually knew what that word was.

Michael: Hopefully, Crayola is listening to our conversation and it’s going to be injected into those new Crayola colors for 2013-2014.

Theresa: Jack will be thrilled.

Mark: I have a question for you. We’re talking about color and all this other stuff, but what about a room? Do you have tips for the bathroom or a retreat or anything like that?

Michael: Sure absolutely. Bathrooms are really tricky rooms for anybody, I think. There’re so many different elements to go into it when you’re really getting down and dirty. You really have to think about how you use the space no matter it be a bathroom or a bedroom or whatever the space. You really have to go into it prepared. Specifically, I think bathrooms for DIYers is very challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s plumbing, there’s electrical, there’s codes, there’re exhaust fans. There’re all these different things. I think bathrooms and kitchens are where the DIYer needs to be as well educated as possible and there’re tons of ways through your show that you guys are helping them, through your YouTube videos. You guys are doing a fantastic job helping DIYers understand it. I think there comes a point when you don’t know everything and you have to consult an expert.

Theresa: That is really good advice. Unfortunately, we have to go to break. Everybody listening, you have to go to Lamps Plus and shop because I’m actually shopping there later on today looking at a new light for our foyer that we’re renovating. We’ll be back in just a minute with more MyFixitUpLife.

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