Design tips from Wall Street

  • Posted on
  • By Andrew Mackie
Design tips from Wall Street

Do you remember that 80s movie, ‘Wall Street?’


The one with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas?


Maybe you loved it, maybe you didn’t. This isn’t a movie review column, so I won’t spend too much time on my opinion of it. But it does hold a bit of ‘cult classic’ status. (And hey, it did get 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, for whatever that’s worth…)


I have a friend, though, that absolutely hated it. And not because of the writing, the acting, the cinematography, or any of the usual reasons.


If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The female lead (played by Daryl Hannah) was a hot New York designer who convinced Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) to let her redo his apartment, carte blanche.


What she came up with was, let’s just say, dramatic.


And my friend, a designer as well, was horrified, bordering on angry.


‘Is that seriously what they came up with? All the designers and budget in the world, and this is the best they could do? I mean, even for the 80s, this is bad…This is the WORST MOVIE EVER!’ he went on.


Yes, her design was over the top, corny, gaudy. You name it. There were layers of faux-finish over fake brick; oversized metallic moldings and Egyptian looking columns; clashing colours and textures. She put everything in there.


Whether my friend missed the nuance that this design was a statement about 80s excess is up for debate. Did the producers think this was a great design? Or did they want to out 80s the 80s? We may never know. But, assuming you want your home to be beautiful, timeless, and truly an expression of you, what design lessons can we take from this?


  1. First, keep it real. Texture can be a wonderful thing, but, let’s face it, when it’s fake, you can tell. Authentic, natural, traditional plasters and finishes are an incredible way to accent your home. They are still available, and there are skilled artisans here in town that can get your job done right.
  2. Stick to the rules. I know, some of us don’t like the idea that there are rules. But when it comes to design, it’s something you need to accept. These rules have been developed over centuries, and relate to human proportion, scale, and the way light and shadow moves your eye through a space. They differ from style to style, and when you miss, things just don’t look right; things can look just a little off in ways you may not be able to explain. Make sure you know what you’re going for and that you or your designer is playing by the book. As we learned from Wall Street, a free-for-all is hard to live with.
  3. Be yourself. The last thing I would advocate for is being boring. Being timeless does not mean being dull. If colour makes you feel good, use colour! If you travel and love being surrounded by culture, pattern and texture, show it off! If you want things to be clean and minimal, use clean lines, hidden cabinetry, and soft tones.
  4. Stay natural. Similar to rule one, pure natural textiles and fabrics will not only feel better and look better now, they will stay that way for longer. Linens used to be passed down to the next generation. And you might be surprised how soft linen or crisp Organic or Egyptian cotton can be used in an ultra-contemporary or truly classic design.


Yes, if you want to learn from Wall Street, we can help. Our interior stylists can offer consultations and advice to make sure your project comes out how you’re dreaming it in your head. Book an appointment today for help with space planning, colour & fabric selection, style advice, and more! In home consultations available. Give us a call today (403) 452-1001 or stop into the store and tell us about your vision!