Design 101: Make It Personal

Personal touches can transform any living space from blah to beautiful.  Your home should always reflect who you are and your character.  Create a space that is comfortable and inviting.   When it comes to living spaces, some say less is best. Substance, not flash, is what’s fashionable.  Good design is about what you don’t see in a room.  Collect items that suit your style, mood and color sense.


Photo credit: Houzz
If you are a collector, bring a few elements into the room to make a point. Organize your collections.  Group like objects, such as colored glass, masks or even books and use the grouping as a design element.  If you spread them out you will lose the impact.  Limit yourself to one collection per room and place them where you will enjoy them.  Express your culture with images of your history.
{source: Black-Poole}
Strive for a sense of balance and take space, color, lighting, texture, and scale into consideration.  Find your inspiration in colorful hues and bold prints.  You can break up a room that has a lot of wood or upholstery with texture; mixing textiles, glass, woods, and metals.  Delve into cultures that interest you for design ideas.   Instead of using one influence, mix it up.  Blend modern classics with global influences.
Create a space that makes you feel as if you are on vacation.  Narrow your focus.  It’s important to keep furnishings in the room neutral and let a few accessories express the theme.  Collect items that suit your style, mood and color sense.  Surround yourself with items that uniquely express your personality.

Design 101: Balance

If you have a piece of furniture that looks a little out of place, use accessories to balance the piece within the space.  Use throw pillows on both ends of a sofa to give visual width, use a bold print area rug to draw the eye downward or a tall lamp or vase to add height.

3D render of a living room

Living with Art: Decorating with Artwork Inexpensively

Many of my readers and clients have asked the question, “How can I decorate with artwork inexpensively?” They want the luxury of having art in their home, but not the high price tag.  Can it be done…of course?  By simply placing art on the walls can actually make quite an impact on space that lacks luster or personality.  Artwork can immediately change a room’s mood.

Before you start your art collecting adventure, there are a few things you need to decide:  What is the mood of the space and what types of activity will take place in the space?  Once you have decided what you want to use the room for, you can now choose a color theme to suit the function of the room. This gives you the basis for choosing the right art for the space.  Shop for art by how the room will be used. The interior space should be perfectly designed to suit your lifestyle.

Next, choose a style: traditional/classic, modern/contemporary, or fun/entertaining.  Just like wall color, artwork can immediately change a room’s mood. Choosing a style depends on your own personal taste. This allows you to inject your own signature style into the interior through artwork.  A little creativity can make simple artworks look fabulous!  
Now, make a checklist of existing artwork you already have that can be used to decorate your interior space.  You can give existing framed artwork a facelift by changing the frame and re-matting to give them a fresh new look.  Take note that size and color are main things to consider when choosing art for your interior space. Work that is too large will overpower the space, while works that are too small will be devoured up in the space.

Make an impact by creating a collection that becomes the focal point

You can also stay within your budget by shopping resale stores for decorative pieces or scan clearance isles at discount stores, furniture stores, and superstores, such as Wal-Mart, Targets.  Your neighborhood garage sales and craft stores are a great source as well.

By following these simple steps, you will be in a much better position to select the right type of art to fit the mood of your space.

Creating a Signature Style for New Couples

Furnishing a Home You Both will Love
You are starting a new life together as a couple and you are excited about creating a home you both with love and enjoy. You want your dwellings to be comfortable, cozy and inviting. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help both of you find your signature style.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship, so talk about what your needs are before you shopping. Having conversation will keep you from becoming an impulsive buyer. Making hasty decisions will leave you spending too much money only to become frustrated with purchasing something that does not work well you’re your design. Then you have to deal with the unpleasant task of returning or exchanging. So make sure you thoroughly discuss what you plan to buy just as you would before making any other major purchase such as a house or a car. Get to know your home before you start furnishing.

Design a Plan
It is much easier to shop for furniture when you have a plan. After you have agreed on a budget, begin prioritizing your needs. Don’t buy what you do not need. Decide where you want to shop and maybe divide the responsibilities, such as who does the research, legwork, or who gets the place ready for the furniture. You may both want to work together to decide on the final purchase.

Create your Signature Style
What is your style preference? Traditional, contemporary, mid-century modern, classic, ethnic, country, shabby chic, eclectic, global and the list goes on. A simple way to find out what’s your style is to inventory what you already have. Discovering your design preference can be found anywhere, not just in your furniture. It can be discovered in your wardrobe.

Mix it up
It is important for both of you to feel equally happy in your own home. Find furniture and accessories that reflect your new life together, and dispose of what no longer fits your lifestyle. Know the basic elements of interior design and you will be able to create a space that looks fabulous, stylish and functional. Design elements are the basic units of a visual image. Interior design has five main elements: color, texture, line, form, and space. By using each element carefully to pull together the design of a room, you can create a beautiful and inspired space. It is important to understand these elements and how they work together to create the right style and design for your home. Combine this knowledge with practice and experimentation and you are well on your way to designing a beautiful home.

Create the Home You Want
Don’t be afraid to dream big even if your budget is small. Find ways of creating the home you want. Shop at sales, consignment stores, or even accept cast-offs. Think about refinishing, re-purposing and refurbishing. These are elements of green design and it can be helpful in creating a home that is truly yours. 

Designing your home can be a fun experience. Your design choices create the backdrop of your home-lifestyle, make it work for you. Your home is an expression of how you want to spend your life together.


Design 101: Color

Don’t be afraid to get behind the wheel…the Color Wheel

Color Wheel

The quickest way to liven up a room is to add color.  I know, there are thousands of color variations and it can be intimidating. So what do you do?  Begin with understanding the rules of decorating with color; learn the basic elements, the terms and the methodology of working with color. When you understand these simple tools of using color, you will be able to create the space of your dreams.

A useful tool used by designers and artists is the color wheel.  The color wheel allows you to immediately view the relationship between various shades by dividing the spectrum into 12 basic hues: three primary

colors, three secondary colors and six tertiary colors.  Primary colors are pure colors; red, blue and yellow. You cannot create these colors by mixing other colors; all colors are created from primaries.  Mixing any two of the primaries in equal amounts produces secondary hues, orange, green and purple.  Tertiary colors are created by mixing equal amounts of primary with secondary.

 The shades on the color wheel are intense with varying degrees of contrast.  With that being said, there are four types of color schemes: monochromatic – tone on tone combinations using several shades of a single hue for a subtle palette; analogous – colors found side by side on the color wheel offer a colorful, but restful feel; contrast – using colors that are similar in tone or adjacent to each other on the color wheel; and complimentary – this dynamic color scheme consists of using to hues opposite each other on the color wheel.  They provide maximum color contrast when placed side by side and will definitely add liveliness to any space.
Analogous – Kelley Best Interior Paint Ideas

Colors affect emotion and create a mood. Blues and greens are considered cool and soothing.  Reds and yellows are considered energetic.  Colors are also considered warm and cool because of association.  For instance, blues, greens, and purples are considered cool because they are associated with the sky, water, and nature. Reds, oranges, and yellows are considered warm because they are associated with the sun.

When you are ready to create your signature color palette, use the color wheel to help you make the right choices or look to Mother Nature for a color combination that works every time.

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Design 101: Focal Point


An emphasis or focal point is the dominant item in a room that your eye is most drawn to. This could be a chandelier, fireplace, a beautiful bed or a window with a beautiful view.

Travertine house: beige living room

You can enhance the built-in focal point by arranging furniture around it to emphasize it or if a room that lacks such a point of interest you can create one through groupings of furniture or using an unusual or large piece.


If you are unsure as to where the focal point is in a room, the formula is quite simple. A focal point will attract interest and attention in a room. It is the je ne sais quoi that will draw your eye to the décor of the room.

Living room and dining roomA focal point can also create a certain mood or theme that will define the emotional impact the room is intended to create.  There is usually only one, two, or three focal points in a well-designed room.   A great focal point can often make a room look quite stunning.