Horizon WIndow Fashions on windows

Five Essential Design Tips For Creating Amazing Spaces

Below are six design tips that are essential to creating a warm and welcoming home. Keep them in mind as you decorate and plan your next project.

Design Tips #1 of 5: Focal Points

Upholstered headboard and bedroom creates a focal point for the room is an essential design tip
The over-sized headboard grabs your attention and acts as a focal point

Make sure you have a focal point. All rooms should have a focal point to grab your attention when you first enter. For a bedroom, it is often the bed. In other rooms, a focal point may be an architectural feature of the room, like a fireplace. When decorating if the room doesn’t have an architectural feature that you want to play up, it is easy to create one. This can be done with color, art, accessories, and furniture. Think of this as an opportunity to get creative.


Mirrors are great in helping us create focal points. They also help add light to a room because they are reflective. Mirrors can be an excellent way to brighten up your home during a dreary winter. You can add them to your décor not only in the traditional means of hanging on the wall but as furniture, accents on tabletops, and closet doors.

fancy bathroom with mirrors and tub
Mirrors can be creatively arranged in groups

Horizon WIndow Fashions on windows
Adding a texture to a wall with wallpaper or shiplap can make a focal point

Design Tips # 2 of 5: Negative Space

Dining room with mirrored server
Negative space makes the items displayed special

Be sure to have negative space (empty space) on the walls after placing art and accessories. When decorating remember that every available wall space does not need to have a picture hanging on it or furniture against it. Your eye needs negative space, too. If there is not enough negative space, it can cause the items in the room to compete for attention and become unsettling to your eye.

Design Tips # 3 of 5: Selections

mood board
Design presentation mood board relays the feel of the room

Remember when decorating to consider all items together when making selections. Sometimes things, on their own, don’t make an impression, but once placed with other items, they can be an essential element. Mood boards that designers put together for their clients are so helpful because they show all the aspects of the room and convey the feeling that they have together.

Design Tips # 4 of 5: Variety

Vary your selections. Get out of the habit of buying matching furniture sets. Rooms with variety are much more interesting than ones without variety. Vary the shapes of furniture. If a coffee table is round, use end tables that are oval or square. I also like to vary the look of furniture types; this means pair sofas that have legs with chairs that have a skirt or vice versa.

Variety is vital in creating an exciting room. Make sure you use furniture with varied heights — balance taller pieces with artwork and accessories over the shorter pieces.

Design Tips # 5 of 5: Lighting

Layered lighting creates an interesting room
Layered lighting creates an interesting room

Use different types of lighting when decorating. Layering additional types of fixtures such as floor and table lamps, pendants, track lights, sconces, and chandeliers creates different kinds of lighting that can be useful for tasks and ambiance. Use dimmer switches wherever possible to have complete control over the amount of light to regulate the mood in the room.

Why did I share these tips? I truly believe our home plays a role in our happiness. It is the core of my design philosophy and I want to help others create their perfect home. If you enjoy getting these tips and seeing what is happening in the design world, be sure to subscribe.

Renovations And Remodeling: What You Should Know Beforehand

I love renovations and remodeling projects. The smell of the lumber and the noise of the power tools invigorate me. I find the whole “reno” scene, at every stage exciting and a bit addicting. Okay I confess, extremely addicting. I always want more. That is because I know it means something is about to get a whole new fabulous look. Something old is about to be new again. Now, doesn’t that sound exciting?

I have had the pleasure of helping many clients with their homes but also have gained much experience with renovations first hand. My own home has been through many transformations. It started as a little cottage that many thought my husband and I were over ambitious for buying (maybe we were). It quickly grew to a ranch and then years later transformed again when we added a second floor.

My husband and I, along with our children, lived in the house throughout the whole second-floor addition. I remember somebody asking me if I was okay. The concerned and caring person thought I must be stressed out beyond belief. I shocked them with my reply, “Are you kidding, this is great.” I was in my element and in my glory! I was so wrapped up in the excitement of the transformation journey that it didn’t matter that I was living in the middle of it.

If you are about to start a renovation or remodeling project, here are some things I have learned as a designer and from personal experience that WILL HELP you throughout your project.

A mess of papers for a renovation

Be Organized Throughout Your Renovation

From the planning stage throughout the completion of your project, being organized is essential. I dedicated a whole post to this advice a few weeks back. For details on being organized from start to finish throughout your project: big or small read, Headache saving advice for anyone starting an Interior Design project.

Hire Contractors Carefully

Having the right people on the job can make all the difference in the world. Start by gathering recommendations from friends or on social media community pages. When interviewing and getting bids, ask a lot of questions. The information you collect will be helpful when you are comparing proposals, so you know you are comparing apples to apples. Of course, you want to hire someone talented, honest, and reliable but also pick a personality that you will not mind in your home for an extended amount of time.

floorplan being drawn for a renovation
Photo by Lex Photography on Pexels.com

Understand Your Design Plans Fully

If you have hired a designer or architect to help with your plans, make sure that you understand the floor-plans and designs. If you are not used to reading a floor-plan, ask for 3d renderings to help you visualize the design concept.

It is also a good idea to ask for a furniture plan when having a new space constructed. Furniture on the floor-plan can give you a reference to understand the size of the room. Also, if the furniture is not laying out to your liking, you have the opportunity to tweak the design plans before construction begins.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Review And Check The Work Completed Each Day

Errors can be made even by the most qualified crew. But if you catch them early, they can be corrected without too much backtracking. If a wall goes up and it is a few inches shorter or longer than the plan calls for, it can drastically change things, for example, not enough room for a double sink or a smaller hall than you wanted etc.

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Check Deliveries As You Receive Them

All deliveries should be checked thoroughly to make sure that nothing arrives damaged, and that all the parts needed are on the job site. You do not want to find out on installation day that something is damaged or missing. Not having all the components needed will cause your job to be delayed while you first wait for replacement parts and then wait for the contractor to be available again.

Expect Bumps In The Road

If you find yourself hitting a bump in the road, have faith in the people you hired to smooth it out. It is impossible to control everything. Sometimes things get back-ordered, dye lots don’t match, or the weather doesn’t cooperate. Whatever the obstacle is, keep it in perspective. Remember it is temporary and fixable.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Budget For Surprises

Things can pop up unexpectedly that need to be tended too. Have some extra money budgeted so that these surprise costs do not financially burden you. The insurance of a slush fund takes the stress off, and if you don’t need it for a “surprise” you will complete your project under budget. If you need help with establishing a budget, Home Advisor’s website has a ton of information about average remodeling costs per zip code.

If you are about to start a renovation enjoy the journey and take lots of photos; before, during, and after!

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Paint’s Biggest Myths

Just about every interior decorating project involves picking a paint color. Recently I received a new color specification kit from Sherwin Williams, and I am loving using it. Finding the perfect color is easy because of the way they have grouped the colors along with the kit’s large 4 x 4 swatches.

paint color specification tools by sherwin-williams
Color specification kit

But selecting the perfect color is only part of finding the perfect paint. You also have to pick the finish and product. There is a lot to know to choose the best product and finish for your application. The amount of sheen a paint finish has can alter the aesthetics of a paint color. Also, where the paint is going and how it will be used should be considered to pick the correct product.

There is so much to color and product selection that I spent two days with my Sherwin William’s Rep to learn about their paint. It was so informative, and I am blown away with the level of support I get as a designer. They provide me with specification tools and professional development and, on top of that, extend an amazing discount to my clients when I specify the color and product for them. By amazing, I mean up to 50% off MSRP depending on the product.

Many finishes to choose from

During my training session, my Rep and I discussed things that most people believe about paint that aren’t true, and here they are:


Some matte paints are washable. This is good news because matte paint is an excellent choice for walls that are not perfect. You do not have to choose between wash-ability and hiding imperfections on your walls. It is worth mentioning that washable is not the same as scrub-able. There is also matte paint that is scrub-able.


All primers are not the same. Different colors require different primers. Priming the walls with the correct primer will ensure that the color you selected will have the same appearance as the swatch you selected. If you do not prime the walls correctly, the color being painted over may change the way the new color appears on the wall.

different paint color primers that are availavle
Different primers for different colors


Have you ever seen marks on walls that result from the condensation that forms on the bathroom walls that get steamed up from the shower? I am happy to report that these drip marks from steam are avoidable. You just have to know what product to use. Look for a product with water spotting and burnish resistance.


There is a massive difference in paints across brands and products. Higher quality paint has more pigments. better coatings, and are self-leveling. All of these things help the paint apply easier and look better.

Lower quality paint has fillers that are added to keep the cost down. Paints with fillers do not cover as well as paints without fillers. This results in needing more coats to cover the wall. More labor, no thank you.

The most significant difference will be how long the paint will continue looking good. Some low-quality paint will only last a year. With outdoor paint, good quality paint could last more three times as long as low-quality paint before it has to be reapplied. So that means painting the outside of your house every six years with low-quality paint or every 18 years with good quality paint. The take away here is less cost per gallon doesn’t necessarily mean less expensive. When you are comparing prices, make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Were you surprised by any of this? I know I was. If you are getting ready to paint, you may enjoy reading Sherwin-Williams 2020 Color Forecast is a Home-run. You may find Why is picking a white paint so tricky helpful.

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Headache Saving Advice For Anyone Starting An Interior Design Project

Renovating, remodeling or even just tackling a small interior design project can be overwhelming. Interior design projects require a ton of footwork. It is easy to forget where you saw what after you have been to a million stores or on a zillion websites. Also, throughout all of the design stages, planning, selecting, and scheduling, there is an enormous amount of paperwork accumulated. If you are not organized, you will spend a good chunk of time retracing steps and flipping through papers hunting for the information that you need.

My advice is to figure out how you will keep yourself organized before you start. This advice may seem like common sense, but even the most organized person can have difficulties controlling the paperwork clutter that renovating and remodeling can generate. And for those who are not innately orderly, it can be extremely stressful and headache producing.

Being Organized is Key

Develop a system to organize all of your documents and samples that works well for you. Your “system” will help you during your project as well as down the road when you are trying to recall the paint color you used or perhaps to locate warranty information. Once you get in the habit of keeping notes and putting papers all in one place, you will feel more in control of your design project and less overwhelmed.

How I Stay Organized

A three-ring binder works perfectly for me. The binder’s sole purpose is to keep everything in one place. I like the flexibility of being able to add and remove pages as my projects evolve. The fact that everything is contained and I can’t lose pages gives me peace of mind. I use dividers and label the tabs according to the project. Plastic envelopes and sheet protectors are great to store samples of fabric, wallpaper and paint colors.

binder for Interior design project

The sections I use in my binder for single room projects are typically:

  • Inspiration photos and research: pictures collected or information on products being considered
  • Sketches and floor-plans: all design plans. Lighting plan, tile layout plan, furniture floor plan, wall elevations, window treatment sketches etc.
  • Color Palette: paint colors, wood stains, fabric choices.
  • Shopping list and selection sheets: all product specification information
  • Project management: to do list, calendar, contractor phone numbers, and contracts
  • User manuals, receipts and warranty information

Large projects I categorize by room as well as using some of the sections listed above. The way you set up your binder is whatever works for you and the specific design project.

Printable Forms For Interior Design Projects

In addition to my three-ring binder, I have created forms and checklists that I use for my Interior Design Business to keep my client’s projects organized. The forms keep important information easy to find and also keeps me from forgetting any details. You can access and print many of them from the “Printables” page on Design2bhappy.com.

The “Printables” page has forms for Kitchen Design Projects, Bathroom Design Projects, Paint Selection, Project Management and Decorating Projects. I have forms and checklists for everything. I will be adding more to my “Printables” page, so check back from time to time.

Last month was very busy for many of us.  If you didn’t get a chance to read up on this year design trends, here is a link to a summary.  Coming soon In no particular order: Paint myths, Up-cycling with Chalk Paint, More Advice for Remodels and Renovations, What not to do in your Living Room, Designer’s Favorite Things in their Homes and much more!

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