Interview With The Pros: Painting & Color Theory Tips.

Interview With The Pros

Interview With The Pros: Painting & Color Theory Tips

An Interview with Michael Abrams, a premiere interior designer in the Chicagoland area:

Our customers would love to hear your thoughts about selecting paint, paint color and also the use of color in the rest of the room where a new stone veneer fireplace has been added.  A typical setting is a family room with ceiling heights of 8”- 9’, hardwood floors in lighter golden oak color, and the furniture stays the same, but the client is willing to add accent pillows, rugs or other affordable accessories. Please share your thoughts on getting the most for our dollar in a room remodel…

North Star Stone: Where do you start in the planning process? Do we start with desired paint color or maybe select the stone color first and then select the paint?

Michael Abrams: I typically approach a project by selecting an element that will become the foundation of the entire room such a rug or a stone veneer fireplace wall. The paint color is then easy to choose as the more fixed elements are in place and I work with complementing them.

North Star Stone: What are the trends for wall color in a family room? Also do you suggest using an accent color on family room wall? And which wall? Is it the wall with the fireplace?

Michael Abrams: The most popular color today is gray; it’s the beige of this decade and will stand the test of time. I typically do not use accent painted walls. My theory is to keep a space calm and relaxing and pop of color can be jarring. I prefer for “WOW” to be in the form of original artwork or unique architectural detailing. That said I have seen many accent walls that look great; it is just something I do not do.

North Star Stone: What brand of paint do you suggest and why?

Michael Abrams: For the past 14 years since I opened my practice I only use Benjamin Moore paint. There paint is high quality and I have never had a problem finding the perfect color. I am especially drawn to the Historic Collection as well as the Affinity Collection.

North Star Stone: As you plan your new family room, do the colors need to blend with the rest of the house, or can the family room have its own color and feel?

Michael Abrams: I am big believer of continuity and consistent flow throughout a home. While the entire home does not need to be in the same color palette I prefer for the common/public rooms to have a very similar color flow while the private rooms like bedrooms can easily change color direction. The last thing I ever do is have space be a different color.

North Star Stone: Many of the older homes don’t have canned lights and are rather dark. Also as we get older, it seems like our eyes need more light. Any thoughts about lighting in the family room? Also if the room is dark, what paint colors do we use and which paint colors do we avoid?

Michael Abrams: Each room should have a minimum of three (3) light sources, more if you can. This provides for functionality as well mood lighting. If a room is naturally dark or installing multiple light sources are unavailable I would suggest using lighter colors as they reflect light while dark colors absorb it.

North Star Stone: What are your suggestions for painting the ceiling? Do you like a tinted paint color and in what type of color, or do you prefer a ceiling white?

Michael Abrams: I avoid the standard ceiling white as it as harsh as white paper. I have tinted the ceiling paint color in the past. Recently I am painting the ceiling the same color as the trim but in a flat instead of semi-gloss. Painting the ceiling a color or installing a wall covering on it is another to dress up the fifth major surface besides the four walls.

North Star Stone: What are the advantages of hiring a professional painter? Any painting tips for the DYI homeowner for getting great results?

Michael Abrams: When it comes to painting I suggest hiring a professional. The majority of work associated with a quality paint job is in the preparation. It takes almost no time to apply the paint but it can take several days to prepare the walls properly to receive it, resulting in an outstanding result. If you are a DYI homeowner purchase the right tools and materials and scrape, patch and sand the walls thoroughly to receive the paint.


Learn more about Michael Abrams and his interior design creations on his website.

Become a fan of Michael on Facebook!  (We did!)




Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest Meeting With The Family

Stone Fireplaces

Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest Meeting With The Family

This past weekend, we had the chance to meet with the winners of the Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest. Boy were they awesome. Marla, Rob and family were so nice and the fireplace was even uglier in person. :) (Just teasing!) But we are super excited to see the end result!

stone veneer

Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest Winner

Marla and Rob put an addition on their home and have the fireplace in the new addition. Rob has done all the work himself and done a great job! The fireplace is framed out, electrical installed and also a really neat “hidden” speaker at the foot of the fireplace. We sat down to discuss the stone options and then took some measurements and went through how the stone veneer is installed on the fireplace. We also went through how the fireplace can be prepped for the veneer installation. Rob is going to be putting up Durock cement board before we get started and they’re also going to get some neat shelving/seating units framed out on the sides of the fireplace, and a flat screen tv bracket mount before we install the veneer. This room is a full on multi-purpose room that is going to be set for all the members of the family!

fireplace veneer 1

The VanDurme’s and Alan Andrews from North Star Stone

They have 4 kids, so decided a basketball hoop would be fun for a little while for the kids! We decided though that the basketball hoop would have to go (sorry kids- it just doesn’t match with the stone!).

fireplace veneer makeover 2

Alan showing the VanDurmes the different types of stone veneer they can choose from.

So the basketball hoop is coming down, the Durock cement board is going up and then comes the stone veneer! Before we install the veneer, Marla, Rob and family are coming to our showroom and factory to help color some of the stone that will be used on their fireplace. Stay tuned for pics and video! It’s going to be fun!

Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest Winner

Announcing The Search For Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace!

Stone Fireplaces

Announcing The Search For Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace!

July 9, Chicago, IL– North Star Stone of Libertyville, Illinois, a contractor that offers interior stone design, stone fireplaces, and custom stone exterior work for homes around Chicagoland, announces the start of their search to find Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplaces.

Geared towards home owners in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, entrants can take pictures of their ugliest and most out dated fireplaces and submit them to North Star Stone via the North Star Stone Facebook page and the North Star Stone website. Upon submission of their pictures, entrants are encouraged to gather friends and family to help vote for their entry to win “Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace”. North Star Stone encourages participants to embrace social media in hopes of gaining the most votes for their ugly fireplace.

The grand prize offers the winner a complete remodel of their existing fireplace. North Star Stone will install stone over the winner’s existing brick or drywall fireplace. The prize also includes a choice of wood mantel. The total value of the grand prize is $4000.

North Star Stone is offering several random prizes to be awarded throughout the contest as well. Prizes include $500 gift certificates that can be applied to a stone fireplace transformation, as well as $1000 worth of custom made stone. There will be a total of $2000 in additional prizes given out before the contest ends in August.

The Chicago’s Ugliest Fireplace Contest runs July 9th through August 31, 2012 and is open to residents living within a 50 mile radius of Chicago. The voting period begins September 1st. Those with the most votes will be considered finalists. A panel of judges consisting of contractors, architects and interior designers throughout the Chicagoland area will choose the winners from the list of finalists. For more information, to enter and to get the full contest rules visit

About North Star Stone, Inc.

North Star Stone, Inc., founded in 2004 offers custom stone fireplaces, exterior stone work and interior stone design for homes throughout Chicago and the Northwest Suburbs. North Star Stone custom manufacturers stone veneer to transform old and outdated fireplaces, update home exteriors and add new style to interior structures like wine cellars, interior walls and stone columns. Find out more about the custom stonework that North Star Stone offers at

Press Contact:

Kristen Klawitter
Insignia IMC