Contributor Tami Kamin Meyer shares her design mantra: “Clashing is Matching”

I have always been drawn to color, designs and shapes. I don't mean just any color. Beige, tan and some browns are boring and lifeless to me. By color, I mean the undeniable cacophony of hues in the Roy Lichtenstein-style wall tiles I chose for my kitchen backsplash remodel.

By designs, I don't mean just one repeating shape in a wall covering, but rather a series of potentially clashing colors in the same room. I have always thought a paisley shirt was a perfect match for plaid shorts, so I coined the phrase, “clashing is matching.”

When the opportunity to renovate my Bexley home presented itself a few years ago, I took my time selecting tile, flooring, lighting and more. The planning and selection processes were painstakingly slow. For example, when I couldn't pull the trigger to purchase kitchen backsplash tile I liked, I knew that my search wasn't over. However, the moment I saw the Roy Lichtenstein-style backsplash tile at Hamilton Parker, I knew there was nothing other than that pop art that I wanted to look at every day as I drank my coffee.

Eyeing that tile was one of the many times my interior designer, Angela Bonfante, and I paused. It's not that I needed Angela's reassurance to know my selection was interesting and unique, but it was definitely fun when she agreed with me. Of course, there were times when she questioned my judgment.

Since I'm not the most practical person, I usually listened to her when decisions regarding practicality were necessary. Still, when it came to my home's aesthetics, I took charge. Don't get me wrong: It's not that I knew what I was doing. I just knew what I liked and I trusted that, in the end, the cacophony of colors, textures and shapes I chose for the various rooms would meld well together. Even if they hadn't, I wouldn't care. It doesn't bother me if walls and flooring clash. If I liked them for their individual uniqueness, that's good enough for me. You see, clashing is matching in my world.

On several occasions, Angela called my various design selections “brave.” I, of course, could not understand why coupling black porcelain floor tile adorned with white accents that replicate natural wood with multi-colored graffiti wallpaper were unusual design partners. Maybe it was because I also paired those choices with the pop-art backsplash in another part of the kitchen. But in the end, it worked—at least as far as I'm concerned.

There was another issue regarding my home renovation. Because I had never lived through an extensive remodeling project, I had no idea what to expect from the process. Early on, I learned two things about renovations: they take longer than anticipated and cost more than estimated.

There have been some unexpected advantages of tackling a big project, too. For example, I didn't realize how reconfiguring kitchen appliances, which added 10 extra feet of counter space, would make it easier and more enjoyable to cook healthfully. With a larger prep area, cutting fruits and vegetables is more convenient. Cleanup is a breeze, too, now that I have a deep, double stainless steel sink. Another unforeseen benefit of surviving the home redo is that my pride of ownership has multiplied by leaps and bounds.

There were certain design elements I wanted, and would not negotiate, even though I had no idea how realistic they were. For example, I insisted on having a tailgate desk built into my new kitchen cabinetry, although that meant relocating a beloved Hoosier cabinet from my kitchen to the dining room. I didn't realize tailgates were heavy, and used ones were usually rusty, damaged or both. A new one couldn't inject the industrial primitive look I sought for my kitchen, but I was not to be deterred. I also didn't consider the size of the tailgate before I bought it.

Eventually, I found a used International Harvester tailgate on eBay, but didn't think twice about how it would look in the kitchen before I ordered it. Fortunately, I bought it before my custom kitchen cabinets were measured and ordered, but it never dawned on me that it might be difficult to incorporate a tailgate into kitchen cabinets.

Decorating a home is a great way to express one's personality. Be prepared, however, to make a bunch of decisions. There was far more involved than selecting tile, paint color and flooring—and the minutia can start to feel overwhelming. Deciding which wall switch would control which ceiling light may seem simple, but it's one thing to make that choice standing in a room under construction and yet another to access that light switch with groceries in your hands and dogs barking.

I also extended my love of color, sound and lights to my backyard, but in stages. I have planted annuals and perennials. I hung chimes and multi-colored birdhouses from tree limbs. I scour flea markets for unusual yard art and don't think twice about whether the red tractor grill I placed in the yard meshes with the “Dog Park” sign I hung on a nearby fence.

I relish the sound of the small waterfall in the pond, and excitedly anticipate spring when toads return to croak their desires for a mate. I have also discovered the joys of solar lights, both on strands and in the ground. Some are white, but most change colors. This year, I even upcycled formerly ugly brass dining room chandeliers to create solar chandeliers to hang in my yard. And, as much as I have studied the patterns of the electric lights hanging above my pond as they change colors, I still can't predict the sequence. Every time I look at them, it's like the first time—so fresh, exciting and new.

Tami Kamin Meyer is a Columbus writer and attorney who contributes often to Columbus Monthly.