A compulsive decorator is right at home

Dream home

Matchmaker: While on vacation, she's been known to search model homes for decorating ideas. Pamela Dayan has even rearranged the furniture at 3 a.m.

October 03, 1999|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If you could pick only one word to describe Pamela and Joe Dayan's home it would be -- purple.

But wait, the entire home isn't purple. Certainly, the outside of the Owings Mills home isn't painted purple. But inside, brilliant and vibrant hues of grape, plum, eggplant, lilac, lavender, magenta and fuchsia dominate the decor of the Dayan home. Even the pool table has purple felt.

"I've always loved the color purple," Mrs. Dayan said. In all fairness, not every room is purple. In the master bedroom and formal living room, she opted for blacks, whites and animal prints. In 13-year-old daughter Britany's room, purple shades are offset by pinks and yellows.

But regardless of the color scheme, everything in the Dayan home, from the carpets to the window treatments to the wallpaper and accent pieces -- such as throw pillows and vases -- is perfectly coordinated.

Yes, that would be a better word to describe the Dayan home -- coordinated. Nothing seems out of place. It all matches perfectly.

That's no accident, Mrs. Dayan said. "I love to decorate. I like everything to be just right. I'll shop around for just the right thing to fill a corner."

And if that thing to fill the corner is the wrong color, that's no problem. Mrs. Dayan will just get out a can of spray paint or a bolt of fabric and make it the right color.

A glass table with a green base was spray-painted silver. A piano was painted white. Picture frames, lamps, a ginger jar and candleholders were painted to match in shades of black, silver and white and more purple tints. A chair and a bench were reupholstered. A pair of columns were covered in lavender suede, and she made all her window treatments and pillows to bring everything together.

"She's extremely creative," her husband said. "And she's a shopper. It's one thing to decorate. It's another to find things at a good price. She'll go to Virginia to find something."

A true bargain hunter, Mrs. Dayan scouts flea markets and tag sales looking for interesting pieces to refinish. She's also known to have a weakness for a store-closing mega-sale or buyout opportunity.

Once, she found wallpaper in shades of teal and purple that she just loved. But she couldn't find a place that went with the colors. So she papered the walls of her laundry room and then decorated and accessorized the laundry room to match the wallpaper.

Mrs. Dayan admits she can be a little obsessive about her decorating. After all, this is a person who likes to tour home models while on vacation to get decorating ideas. "When I first moved into this house, I didn't sleep. I couldn't rest until this place was decorated," she said.

Mr. Dayan recalls that first week in their new home very well. "One night she got up at 2, 3 o'clock in the morning and started moving furniture, pushing the couch around the room," he said.

"I have always done this," she said. "I have a knack for decorating. It just comes naturally to me."

Her passion for decorating, bargain shopping and restoring furniture probably dates back to when she had her first apartment at the age of 18. "I went to Goodwill and refinished everything and made it look nice."

When she was in her 20s, she lived in a townhouse in Columbia and decorated it in a trendy 1970s-style, with shimmering Mylar and other shades of silver and black. Six years ago, when the Dayans lived in Pikesville, the home was decorated in pinks and beiges.

And through it all, with all of the moves and color changes, she has held on to many of the same pieces of furniture and accent pieces.

By sticking with neutral-colored furniture, like her white-leather couch and black entertainment center, she has been able to change the color palette of her home without making a big investment in all-new furniture to match her decor.

And when she is armed with her trusty cans of spray paint, accent pieces can be any color she wants. "I could change the pillows and repaint and make everything green tomorrow," Mrs. Dayan said.

Her decorating habits have taken her outside the house. She has worked as a decorator, helping friends and family make their homes more complete, and she had a side-business selling home accessories. Jokingly she said, "When I visit neighbors and other people's homes, people say, `Look out, here comes Pam. She's going to want to change everything.' "

But then that's only half a joke. She's been known to suggest to friends where to move their furniture. "If I came to your home, I'd probably do it to you, too," she said.

But don't get the wrong idea. she may love decorating and making everything color-coordinated, but the Dayan home, built new in 1993 at a cost in the "low $300,000s," is not some ice-cold showplace where you can look, but can't touch and dare not sit on any of the "nice" furniture. The Dayan home is a one made for living.

Many of the Dayans' things have come from his homeland of France or have been purchased on family outings or vacations. Since he doesn't get back to France to see his family often, she covered a basement wall with photos of his relatives.

She covered another wall with her family's photos and some of her poetry. Instead of putting her daughter's many school awards and childhood drawings into a drawer somewhere or temporarily on the refrigerator, she had the papers laminated and covered a wall in the garage.

"When I come home from work, I can relax here. It's cozy," Mr. Dayan said.

"When I look around my home, everything means something to me. Everything is special," she said. And, of course, everything matches.

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