Mirrors make rooms appear larger and brighter

Does your living room or bedroom seem to keep getting smaller? Well, it might have something to do with the interior design. Dark paints, over-sized furniture and cluttered décor can have a huge impact on how large a room feels. Of course, sometimes your room is just small. Now don’t start panicking just yet! Whether you have a small room, or it just has begun to feel small, you can use a simple interior design trick to open up a space and make it seem larger. Just hang up some mirrors.  uttermostroomshot

You already have a mirror in your bathroom and possibly your bedroom, but what about the rest of your home? Mirrors can do more than help you get ready in the morning—they also give the illusion of depth and add light. Lighter rooms create a sense of openness, which is why it is recommended to paint bright colors in smaller rooms. Even if you use darker paints, mirrors can reflect both natural and artificial light, making your room seem brighter and more open.

Find mirrors in different shapes and sizes and group them together. Not only will the space seem larger, but the mirrors offer a fun design element to any room. If you want to give your room some height, find a floor length mirror that complements the interior design.

Mirrors can be strategically placed to do more. Position a mirror so that it reflects the view and light coming in from a window. A reflection of the outdoors is a sure way to make a room seem larger. Mirrors installed across from each other also have a dramatic impact to the size of the room.

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How to choose the Correct Size for a Coffee Table


Have you ever stepped into a friend’s living room, instantly felt something missing and then noticed there was no coffee table? Coffee tables are often the finishing touch to a living room and can tie all of your décor together for a complete look. While deciding on a table isn’t rocket science, the wide selection of tables offered can make anyone feel overwhelmed. Simplify the process and find the perfect coffee table for your living room with these considerations:

Size and Shape

Take a look at the amount of open space in your living room. Does the room seem really bare or is there limited space? Round tables are perfect for smaller spaces as they allow people to easily maneuver around the area. A rectangular table will fill an empty room and keep it from looking unfinished. Both the coffee table’s height and length should be measured to confirm that the table will fit in its intended location, and remember to be mindful of scale. Here is a pretty good rule of thumb when measuring for a coffee table:
1) keep your coffee table approximately the same height to slightly lower than your sofa cushions.
2) Keep it within two-thirds the length of the couch.
3) Keep your own needs in mind. If you are taller and will be resting your feet on it, go for a higher table. Or if you plan to sit on the floor beside it on occasion, go for one that is lower than the suggested height of the couch might suggest.
Here comes the fun part! Browsing the many different table designs available can be an enjoyable process as it gives you a chance to play interior designer. While selecting a table based on its design is mostly a taste preference, you also want it to fit in well with the overall look of your living room. If you are starting fresh, decide on a style before looking at tables.
What do you intend to use the coffee table for? Some people need their table to be highly functional, while others just want it based on aesthetic appearance. Not all coffee tables are designed to actually hold coffee, so if you intend to place drinks on the table, make sure it isn’t too wobbly. If your coffee table is merely a visual attraction, then you have a chance to think outside the box and experiment. Get creative with different designs and materials that can offer a distinct look.

When Designers Behave Badly

Closeup Living Room Shot

By Corey Damen Jenkins for Bellacor.com

Recently over lunch, one of my clients told me that she had interviewed several interior designers prior to hiring my firm. Of course, each candidate brought something different to the table, but she commented that many possessed a condescending attitude during the vetting process. She got the impression from some that they felt they were doing her a favor by granting the interview. In fact, one designer didn’t even bother bringing a portfolio to the consultation: she claimed that her name and work spoke for themselves. Wow. Really?

I sipped my tea quietly as my client related these experiences. I readily agreed with her that considering the economy, service providers should be a bit more humble in their approach to getting new work. And I winced as she recited these stories because they reminded me of why some homeowners shy away from hiring designers: they think we’re all a bunch of divas!

Well, “rumors” notwithstanding, good interior designers are actually the lifeblood for successful projects, and wise homeowners realize that value. But while clients can be demanding at times, it is fair to say that designers also have a responsibility to “behave”, especially when being interviewed for a new project. As the old adage goes, a first impression is a lasting one. It’s vital that the client and designer get along! So what should you look for when interviewing an interior designer?

1.)    “Seeing Is Believing”: Having a portfolio is essential for designers since they claim to have the skills to create interiors. It doesn’t matter if the portfolio is electronic (swiping through a gallery on an Ipad, etc.,) or hardcover—the important thing is to have one! While perusing the body of work, use questions to draw the designer out. For example, thoughtful inquiries like “What do you think is the most unique thing in your portfolio?” and “What shows your technical proficiency best in your portfolio?” or even, “Where did you find the inspiration for that light or piece of furniture?” make for insightful conversation and gives the designer a chance to express him or herself.

2.)    “Be Web-Worthy”: In our sophisticated tech age, it’s amazing how many service providers still do not have a website! Websites are basically on-line resumes and they are the No. 1 place homeowners research before calling a designer for an interview. A designer’s website needn’t be fancy. An online portfolio, summary of experience, testimonials and before-and-afters are sufficient. But what if a designer doesn’t have a website or blog? Well, that might be a warning sign. But keep in mind that some seasoned designers are “old school” and rely solely on word-of-mouth business. So call them up anyway. Most likely they’ll have some sort of portfolio in-person. Unless of course their “name/work speaks for itself”…and that’s your cue to run for the hills.

3.)    “Bedside Manner”: Interior designers are like physicians who operate on ailing homes. That means their bedside manner (ergo their attitude) towards you is key. Personally, I’d rather have a kindhearted doctor performing surgery on me than reckless Edward Scissorhands. Similarly, technical ability is great. But if the professional is a condescending snob job with cutting words or actions the project’s morale will suffer. Working in someone’s home is an honor and privilege—not a right of passage.


So it really boils down to that initial consultation. Observe the designer’s body language. Do they “get you”? Do they make you feel optimistic about your project? Can you sense their excitement? Most importantly, do you like them? That last question is king because this person will be in your personal space for a long time. Listen to your gut instincts: human nature doesn’t lie and you need to click with this person. Designers are human beings: some are gabby and bubbly, others are more reserved and serious. But everyone can—and should—be polite especially during an interview. The best foundation for a healthy client/designer relationship starts with cordial friendliness and professionalism.

By the way, don’t forget to offer your guest a cup of coffee or refreshments at that first meeting. Since interior designers are service providers, hospitable actions from homeowners set a good first impression. Remember, you’re being interviewed too!  With the right behavior, and the right chemistry between the designer and the client, you will get stunning results!

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As summer draws to a close, bring the outdoors in

As much as we might not want to admit it, summer’s on its way out. As the temperatures drop, take the opportunity to appreciate fall’s unique beauty. From the brightly colored leaves to the hardy plants that continue to bloom, nature still offers up plenty of décor inspiration. All you need to do is bring it indoors!


Photo Credit: Mary Crawford Design

Nights on the patio will eventually get chillier, so consider moving your outdoor furniture onto your three-season porch or even your living room for a bit of extra protection from the elements.  If you have removable cushions, switch them out with new ones in warm tones that complement the earthier color palette of autumn.Inside your home, there are even more ways to celebrate the new season. Twigs and branches add a rustic touch when arranged in glass vases, and fall flowers and foliage, like chrysanthemums and ornamental kale, also deliver rich dashes of color.Fall is the perfect time to snuggle up, so make sure your home takes on a cozy atmosphere. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, bring in some pretty logs to store on the hearth (birch is always attractive and cedar is aromatic). Whether your fireplace is gas or wood-burning, using a light fixture with a ceiling fan will help evenly distribute the warmth that’s created. For a final touch, place soft throws in natural materials (like alpaca wool or dense cotton) on couches and chairs, along with plush pillows.
Mohawk all year

In no time, your home will look beautifully autumnal – you won’t even miss summer!

Décor in seconds: Peel and stick decals change the mood of a room in no time

Patience is a virtue, but who hasn’t had a moment when they’ve looked at a room and thought “I want this to change … now!” That impulse can lead to some projects that are better in theory than in practice, and leave you mired in a ton of work. But, next time you feel hurried and harried to makeover a space, consider how decals can change the character of a room – and let you do it over and over again with minimal effort.


Parents in particular know that kids’ tastes change and evolve, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Decals are ideal for kids’ rooms because they allow you to adapt their décor on a whim. You can choose options that coordinate with your nursery theme, and as your child grows from baby to toddler to a kid with opinions of his own, all you need to do is peel off the old and stick on the new. There are even options to add your kids’ favorite characters to the room, from Dora to The Avengers.


For parents whose kids have left home for college, there’s always the question of what to do with that now-unoccupied bedroom. If you want to convert it to a tranquil guest space, taking down old décor and adding peel-and-stick decals can change the mood of the space without ever having to open a can of paint.


If your home has lots of blank wall space and you’re not sure how to enhance it, there are a number of decal options that can be used to add character. There’s plenty of sophisticated imagery, from botanicals to geometrics; you could also use letters for a custom treatment that speaks to your personality. Spell out your family name, your favorite places you’ve traveled or words that you find inspirational and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind décor element.


Entertainment storage for dorms and living rooms

Multipurpose rooms such as a college dorms or home living rooms require media storage that organizes with style. Find the perfect solution to your storage needs and give order to a room in disarray.

College dorm rooms

WallMountedCDRackIf you’re a college freshman, dorm room is the space where you will watch movies, study for tests, hang out with friends and try to get a good night’s sleep. For a room that serves so many purposes, it can often be frustrating when there is so little space.

Entertainment storage is one way to keep your room from being cluttered and you from feeling overwhelmed. Try using a  wall mounted DVD or CD rack to keep your movies and music accessible or save space and purchase a TV stand that can also house your DVD player and video game console. The right amount of furniture can give your room personality without making the space seem overcrowded.

Living room

ConaxComponentBenchEvery piece of furniture in your living room needs to match the overall décor. Luckily, it is easy to find furniture that is both trendy and functional. Show off your organizational and design skills with stylish storage pieces. The Sonax Component bench looks great and can house multiple entertainment devices. An ottoman can be more than a comfortable foot rest. Select a storage ottoman that has room for game controllers, magazines or any items that need a designated home. If you Storage Ottomanwant an area to put pictures or plants, how about a media cabinet that also hides your movies, CDs, and books? With a little storage help, you can transform a crowded living room into a chic gathering space.

Kids rooms: Décor that transitions as they grow

When it comes to decorating children’s spaces, it’s easy to go all out with vibrant hues and fun themes. The problem is, kids don’t stay kids forever, and if you commit to something that doesn’t transition as they mature, a lot of redecorating (and the associated cost) is in your future.

Here are a few top tips to keep in mind to create a beautiful children’s space that also transitions with time:

1. Select a classic color palette

Classic colors aren’t necessarily bland colors. Some of the top color pairings for kids include gray and yellow, pink and green, pink and black, sage and beige, and purple and green. Furthermore, these color combos have lasting power – perfect for a nursery or a teen’s abode.CrystoramaKids1

2. Think concept, not characters

Your child may beg you to go all out with décor featuring her favorite TV character, but try to resist. In a year she’ll be on to something new and you’ll be stuck with a dated theme. Look at the big picture and use accents to bring life to the space. Colorful pillows, throws and rugs add zest, and keep character overload at bay.

3. Love the light

Lighting is the perfect way to add an interesting focal point to a child’s space. Keep scale in mind as you select your options, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A mini crystal chandelier or sleek chrome ceiling fan from Crystorama works for little or big kids, and may become the trademark feature of the space.

4. Choose fun, but functional furniture

There are some pieces of furniture you’ll need to replace as a child grows, particularly the bed. But other pieces should be selected with longevity in mind. Chairs, dressers and desks need to have lasting power so they work today and tomorrow. Keep in mind durability – kids are tough on their stuff, so durable materials that can easily be cleaned are ideal.

5. Remember organization

Children’s rooms are typically smaller spaces within a home, yet kids tend to accumulate so much stuff! Cut the clutter by kidsStoragedesigning their room with organization in mind. Baskets, built-ins and creative shelving should all be incorporated into a child’s space. When clutter overflows, it’s time for a sort-and-donate session.

Seven Ideas to Create a Focal Point Using Light

Each room in your house should have a focal point, a feature that immediately captures the eyes. Some rooms come with a ready-made focal point such as a fireplace or picture window, while others need you to create one. Make sure every room in your home has a noticeable focal point with these seven design ideas:


Photo Credit: Patti Johnson Interiors Design Blog

1. Hang a chandelier in rooms with no focal point.

Focal_Point_ChandelierA large and elegant chandelier is an easy way to create focus in a dining or a living room. Plus, it will add excitement to the room and give it a sophisticated look.


Find this Turquoise and Jade Four-Light Hedy Chandelier at bellacor.com.

2. Incorporate accent lighting to feature particular objects.

Sometimes the designated focal point is less obvious and needs help standing out. A little lighting can highlight an architectural element or a group of paintings on a wall you want to feature.

3. Take advantage of large windows.

Window walls can add instant drama to a room, so it’s best to keep them uncovered when you can. People will be instantly drawn to the natural light, especially if the windows offer a nice view. When the sunlight becomes too harsh during the day, cover it up with stylish, bold curtains to maintain the focal point.

4. Complete the look with unique light fixtures.

A focal point may need that something extra to make it look complete. Light fixtures are a great way to add character without being overwhelming.

5. Select a lighted mirror for your bathroom.

If you spend each morning getting ready in your bathroom, you want to make sure you have decent lighting. Mount a lighted mirror on the wall and you will have a well-lit room as well as a focal point.

6. Think about Bright Furniture.

Often times, when selecting furniture and decor for rooms, you may tend to shy away from a bright piece of furniture. However, it provides a great focal point for your eye to grab and rest on when entering a room. Consider adding this to your interior design repertoire.


Photo Credit: Patti Johnson Interiors Design Blog

7. Use Large mirrors.

Large mirrors, not only will command attention, but will give the appearance of doubling the size of your room. The more unique and beautiful – whether in color, shape, or size, the more attention will be given.


Photo Credit: Patti Johnson Interiors Design Blog

Ottomans: So Much More Than a Resting Place

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Like what you see in the picture? Find your ideal room here:

Accent Table
Striped Table Lamp
Silver/floral shade Table Lamp

After a long day, there’s nothing better than sitting back and putting up your feet – and ottomans are the perfect piece of furniture for doing just that. But often, ottomans are an afterthought, seen more as an accessory than a necessity. Designers know, however, that ottomans are a key décor element that can pull a room together and give it some extra character in addition to providing that extra level of relaxation.

So, what can an ottoman do for your room?

  • Add style. Are you classic? Contemporary? Transitional? An ottoman can help to drive the style direction and feel of your room. With the plethora of options available, the ottoman can act as your center piece the brings everything together. As an added bonus, an ottoman can be style and function and may be a place for storage, extra seating, a place to rest your weary feet, or literally just a place to put your favorite magazines and accent decor.
  • Add texture. Ottomans are available in an almost endless variety of fabrics that add visual texture to a room. Leather, for instance, offers a subtle sheen and an organic, smooth texture. Cowhide ottomans cast light differently and have their own uniquely tactile character. Other fabric options like damask, velvet or even rush grass also provide visual interest.
  • Enhance color. Whether you want to harmonize with the existing color scheme of your room or add a burst of color, you can find an ottoman that suits your tastes. Neutral shades are the most adaptable options; earth tones generally pair nicely with other earth tones. For something bolder, an ottoman covered in handwoven kilim squares, which are one-of-a-kind, will offer a rainbow of rich colors, including reds, blues, browns and golden hues.
  • Balance the look of the room. Large rooms can suffer from an excess of negative space, leaving the room feeling “off” or just a little too empty. Ottomans, alone or in pairs or groupings can add that extra element that fills the space to balance the overall appearance of the room.

The Design Doctor

By Corey Damen Jenkins for Bellacor.com

In my humble opinion, Interior Designers are a lot like doctors: people come to them with ailing homes that need to be operated on. Some people get designers involved early, such as during the construction of a new home. But sadly, there are a lot of people out there who would rather wait until their home is in cardiac arrest before calling up a designer.

While DIY continues to be “all the rage” the truth is many folks make pretty expensive mistakes when they try their hand at decorating and design. In the end, what should be an enjoyable experience becomes a source of frustration. So what are five tell-tale “symptoms” that a person should accept a house call from The Design Doctor?

Photo Credit: Corey Damen Jenkins

Photo Credit & Interior Design by: Corey Damen Jenkins

Symptom #1: The “Play-Doh” Complex: You have good ideas but you are indecisive, unsure of yourself and become like putty in the hands of a hungry, diabolical salesperson. Folks like this end up with rooms full of hodge-podged messes.

Antidote: Like doctors making house calls, Interior Designers work with you IN YOUR HOME, not from a department store’s sales floor, so they can integrate your personal style with any space or house dilemma you may have. In other words, they care about the outcome and will work with you diligently to give you confidence as you make purchases.

Symptom #2: The “Ostrich” Complex: You are overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the process. You admit the house needs a facelift but you have no idea where to get started! Colors, patterns, scale…just thinking about these things gives you vertigo!  So you’d rather just bury your head in the sand and procrastinate.10

Antidote: A design professional will rescue you from the quick sand, and help you face the music! They have been skillfully trained to tackle all of those overwhelming challenges and can take a lot of stress off your shoulders in the process. They are also aware of cost-effective ways that can even make previous mistakes look like they were planned!

Symptom #3: The “Bottom Line” Complex: Okay, so maybe a lot of us suffer from this complex. You know the house needs to be updated–perhaps in stages over a period of months or even years–but you are naturally concerned about how much it will cost. “Budget” is your middle name…and maybe your last name too.

Antidote: An interior designer can prioritize things that need to be done, create a cost-study for you and generate a time-line. They are also well-versed in what the market has to offer in terms of cost savings–but without compromising style or beauty.

11Symptom #4: The “Doubting Debby” Complex: You are leery of making any changes because you’re afraid that they will turn out looking ugly. And then your friends will laugh at you.

Antidote: An interior designer has many specialties, not the least of which is the art of creating great looking spaces. Besides, no interior designer worth their salt will allow their work to be equated with the word “ugly”! Nothing can be possibly worse for a designer than a poor referral–it can be the kiss of death in business–so you can best believe that he or she is going to take pride in their work. They will be dedicated to making you look good as a client.

Symptom #5: The “Running Hampster” Complex: You. Are. Too. Busy. Your home desperately needs a makeover, but you are entirely too swamped with life/work/kids or lack the energy and interest to do it right now.

Antidote: Many Designers have great project management skills. They are well-equipped to negotiate and coordinate the efforts of vendors and contractors. This means you can delegate as much or as little to them to manage in your behalf and they will keep you updated on the progress.


Photo Credit: Delight By Design

Let’s admit it and be honest with ourselves. You suffer from at least one of these maladies, right? If so, why not hire a professional that you can delegate this “problem child” to raise? I say use your energy and time for things that you really enjoy. Or if you do happen to love the art of decorating, imagine how much more enjoyable it would be to have a design coach collaborating with you, helping you to avoid making costly mistakes!

So if your house is on life-support, an interior designer may be just the “cure” needed to resuscitate it back to life. Why not call one up for an interview today?

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