Decorating Tips

What Do Interior Designers Do?

have you considered hiring an interior decorator or designer for a project in your home? Here's the low down on what interior designers really do and how they help you find your style, give decorating ideas, and most of all, help you decorate your home

You see the beautiful homes on Instagram and Pinterest we design and the projects we dream up in our own homes. From the outside, it looks like a blast. Who wouldn’t wan to decorate shelves and arrange pillows all day amiright?

While it IS fun, it’s definitely not all fun and games. There’s a lot of work that goes into designing a beautiful room, so I thought I’d pull back the curtain a bit and share what we do and how it’s not just about fluffing pillows. Since I’m an online interior e-designer, I’m focusing on what it is exactly I do and how I help clients create beautiful rooms in their home.

What do interior designers really do?

Interior design is the art and science of creating a functional, beautiful space that meets clients’ needs and includes the plans, research, and management of the project. It’s a combination of juggling the needs and wants of a client so their home works for their lifestyle while crating an aesthetically pleasing and inspiring place to hang out with family and friends.

Interior design involves so much more than just a pretty house. It’s about bringing family and friends together and creating a welcoming environment you want to hang out in. Your home is the backdrop of your memories. It’s where all the everyday sweet moments happen so it’s a super personal thing and should be a place you truly enjoy.

You know the saying, if you look good, you feel good? I whole heartedly believe there’s something to it. If you have the confidence that comes from within because you are proud of the way your home looks, (and you aren’t constantly annoyed with all your blank walls and out-dated, uncomfortable furniture), it triggers other areas of your life as well and you do good, and the world can use more good people.

Think about it for a minute. Imagine what kind of mood you’re in when you leave your house as you’re grumbling because your closet is a disaster because you don’t have an organization system, you stubbed your toe on the kitchen table leg that you’ve been wanting to get rid of for a few years now, and you see the chipping paint in the entryway as you rush out the door. Doesn’t sound like a great start to your day.

Then, imagine what kind of mood you’re in when you can easily see everything in closet and find something to wear, you have a soft faux fur rug that feels good on your feet when you wake up, and the entryway has a console table that keeps you organized so you can grab your keys and sunglasses and head out the door. Completely different right? That’s the power of a well-designed beautiful space.

Now, I’m not saying you won’t ever have a bad morning again, but you get the idea that an inspiring, happy place that function, generally creates inspiring, happy people.

It’s the same thing that happens when you walk into an Anthroplogie store. Everything from the amazing signature candle scent that fills the air, to the beautifully styled shelves with loads of pretty blouses and housewares. All the little details, perfectly curated items, and smell create a whole experience and makes you think, I want to live this beautiful life. They have created an entire vibe and personality around their store experience and the goal comes down to one thing, inspiring you.

That’s how your home should make you feel.

I believe you should feel inspired every time you walk in your home, so that is my goal as a designer.

The Design Process

The first step when working with an interior designer is the consultation meeting. It’s a chat where we can get clear on the client’s needs and goals. What are you hoping to accomplish and what specific needs or requests do you have for the space? A designer works to understand the client’s struggles both functionally and aesthetically, so they can identify solutions to solve them.

Related Post: A Step by Step Look at my Online Interior Design Package Process

During the consultation, the designer also gathers room measurements, budget, and other useful information from the client and will help define their style. The client should have an idea of what they like or have a Pinterest board they can show for visuals, but the designer can help the client hone in on their style and give some guidelines.

From here, the designer takes the information and they develop a design plan. The plan addresses functional aspects of the space so it flows and meets the client’s needs, but you’ll also get a customized, beautiful design that fits within your style.

The design plan includes everything from floor plan, to space planning, to the color palette and lighting, window treatments, furniture, accessories, and any hard finishes if you are doing a remodel, complete with design boards, renderings and floor plan drawings. This is where the art and science come into play. Of course designers know what looks good and how to create a cohesive design, but they must also take into account the measurements and create a floor plan that fits and find furniture that is the right scale and size.

One of the trickiest things about design if you aren’t a professional is getting the scale right. The size and scale of any furniture is different, and not just any sofa will work with any coffee table. You wouldn’t pair a large sectional with a small coffee table. The coffee table will look even smaller next to the large sofa. This takes practice and skill to get right but will make a big difference in creating flow and cohesiveness in your room.

Another example of a design challenge I see often is hanging artwork too high or the piece being too small for the space. This goes back to scale and making sure you have a proper sized piece of art to hang above the sofa, or wherever it’s getting installed.

The designer thinks about every detail in your home and ensures everything is cohesive and beautiful. The only thing the client has to do is approve the overall designs - that’s it!

The Benefits of Working with an interior Designer

The major benefit of working with an interior designer, obviously, is their expertise of creating a beautiful, unique and cohesive room. You will have a room that you’ll love and want to show off because it looks amazing, and most importantly, it functions with your everyday needs and is a place that you can enjoy with family and friends. No more wondering what furniture to get, or what color to paint, or staring at blank walls because you can’t decide what to hang.

Designing a space takes time. It’s involved and requires a lot of research, planning and coordination. If you don’t have hours to spend on a decorating a room, it will likely go unfinished for months. Designers have time they can dedicate to you and create a beautiful space. But because they do this for a living, they are much more efficient with their time and have lots of ideas to offer.

The biggest time suck if you are decorating a room yourself is sourcing all the pieces. It’s easy to spend HOURS searching for the perfect sofa and then you’ll question whether it goes with everything else in your room. Designers source furniture and decor all the time so they know many great options out there (ones you may not have heard of before!) and can often get better deals than a regular consumer. Can you imagine not spending hours looking for furniture and getting all that time back in your life, while a designer sources the best furniture options for you?

Interior designers can often feel intimidating or you might worry you won’t like the look they create at the end. As a designer, I am here to help you and just want to create the best space for you and your family! I don't get all technical and throw out all kinds of design jargon. It’s just about you and how we can create the room of your dreams.

Hopefully that answers your questions about what interior designers really do. Have a question on something I missed? Ask away in the comments!

Related Posts:

3 Major Differences Between E-Design and Traditional Full-Service Design

My Online Interior Design Services Broken Down Step by Step

4 Living Room Updates That Have the Biggest Impact

4 living room updates that make the biggest impact in your home. Need ideas how you can spruce up your living room and give it life on a budget? Here are 4 ideas that will instantly update your home, you won't believe the before and after. From wall colors, to lighting, and throw pillows, your living will look like a completely new space.

Let’s say you want to update your living room. It’s feeling a little drab and boring, doesn’t really reflect your style, and it certainly doesn’t feel like the inspiring, creative space you envisioned. It’s a little basic and and needs something to make it look cohesive it feel “finished”. You have a nice neutral sofa. A cute wood coffee table, but have no clue what to add for accessories and other finishing touches. There are a million and one things you can do to update your room and give it some life, but you have a budget to stick to and want to update a few things without doing a complete makeover or buying all new furniture.

Toady, I’m breaking down what pieces to invest in to make the biggest impact if you’re looking to update your home.

4 Living Room Updates That Have the Biggest Impact

PAINT COLORS

The first place I always start if you’re looking to update your home or give it a new look, no matter which room, is paint. One, because it’s super affordable and fairly easy to execute. Two, because paint is a key player in the overall vibe of your home. The color on your walls instantly ignites the feeling you get when you walk in a room. Choose the wrong color and it affects the vibe you wanted and brings down the rest of your room.

I often use the example of a lush spa. When you walk into a spa for a nice relaxing hour to yourself, you don’t want to walk in and be greeted with bright red walls, vibrant yellow wallpaper, and blaring loud Beyoncé playing through the speakers. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Beyoncé, but not when I’m treating myself to a massage (which never happens BTW). The red walls and bright yellow set the wrong tone and overall vibe you want for a relaxing moment.

Now, your situation might not be that dramatic, but your paint color MATTERS. If you want a warm, welcoming home, dark grey might not be your first choice for wall color. So, first and foremost, before you visit your local paint store, do a little self assessment and try to understand how you want your home to feel. This is something I always ask my clients at the beginning of our process because the answer dictates alllll the other design decisions that follow so it’s important to dig deep and get it right.

So, if you aren’t feeling the current color on the walls in your home or it’s just not the vibe you’re going for, paint is the first thing you’ll want to change. Read this post on how to choose paint colors for your home for some helpful tips.


LIGHTING


Lighting is another option that can really change a room’s look with a few updated light fixtures. Bonus, you can swap out lighting in an hour or less!

Lighting is one of my favorite investments that make a big impact. Good lighting makes a room feel warm and welcoming. When you walk into a living room that’s well lit with cozy lighting, it really sets the tone and makes you want to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine in hand and watch the Real Housewives.

Pay attention to the lighting in your favorite restaurant next time you visit and take note how it sets the mood. If they just used a giant overhead light the mood wouldn’t feel nearly the same. You can achieve the same welcoming feeling in your living room with a mix of ambient lighting and lamps. I share in detail how to pick the right light fixtures here.

Another reason I love investing in lighting for a big impact is because lighting can really make a statement. An otherwise minimal or neutral room can really pack a punch with a fun chandelier.

For your living room, I would first add one or two table or floor lamps if you don’t have any yet. Then, you can update your overhead lighting (if you have it) with a nice flush mount or pendant light to elevate your room and give it some polish.


THROW PILLOWS

Next up on the list are throw pillows! Throw pillows are such an easy and affordable way to instantly change the look in your living room. I tend to keep finishes pretty neutral and utilize throw pillows and other accessories to incorporate color. That way when you want to change the look (seasonally or whenever you get the urge!), you can easily swap out pillows for different colors and patterns and completely update your space. Try adding a few throw pillows in a variety of colors and patterns (that still coordinate) to punch up your living room. It will make such a difference! If you’re wanting more color, go for bold colorful pillows. Check out my favorite sources for affordable pillows here.


RUGS

Rugs are another piece that anchors your living room and pulls everything together so it feels cohesive. I’m a proponent of every room having a rug, especially your living room. Because rugs are typically a large part of the design, choose your rug wisely. Pattered rugs can make a room feel lively and busy. Colorful rugs can feel energetic. A neutral or muted rug can make your living room feel warm and relaxing. Go back to the beginning of the post and how you decided you want your living room to feel and use that as your guide when choosing a rug.

I hope this gives you ideas how you can update your living room and breathe new life into your space.

How to Decorate a Cozy Mid-Century Modern Living Room - Reader Submission

Click to read how I created a design plan to transform one of my reader's grey toned living room into a cozy mid-century modern retreat. I cover everything about how to find ideas, decide on a layout, and more!

I always like seeing before and afters and real-life examples of blank rooms that are designed from scratch, so I thought it’d be fun today to show a reader’s home and how my e-design decorating process works to bring your ideas and dreams to life.

Thank you, Anna, who graciously sent photos of her home and was willing to share them with you on the Internet :)

She, her husband, and 3 young kids under 5 are renovating their home. So far, they’ve demoed their kitchen and took down the wall separating the kitchen from the living room so now it’s all open concept with a vaulted ceiling.  They are an active family with a ton going on, so they need durable, practical furniture and decor.

However, the open concept has made it difficult for Anna to know where to place furniture and how to create a floor plan that works for them along with the challenge of knowing what furniture to get. With one big room, the rooms all flow together so the furniture and decor need to work together and compliment each other so it feels like a cohesive space. Otherwise, your home will quickly turn into a hodgepodge of furniture that do not work well together and each room will feel disjointed, like it’s own individual space.

Anna also came to me wanting advice on lighting. Right now, her husband hates the “little balls” hanging down from the ceiling. They took down a couple of the ball light fixtures in the front entrance, but now they’re left with just the light bulbs and she is overwhelmed with picking out new lighting since she is unsure what size or style would work in the space.

Here is what Anna’s home looks like right now in the midst of their kitchen renovation. It’s a beautiful open blank slake with lots of natural night (you know that’s my favorite). I can totally relate to how she’s feeling as she is anxious to organize and furnish their living room so they can have some place to relax as a family with all that’s going on.

living room before
living room before 2
dining room before

Anna put in new wood-like floors in a stone grey color, they painted the kitchen cabinets dark grey, walls are white, and the wood railings and trim are dark wood. When it comes to her style, Anna doesn’t just like one thing or one particular style, but she loves all things shiny, metal, sparkly, fur and an overall light, airy and uncluttered space.

Here is a photo she sent as inspiration, so you can definitely see her love for white and airy. Definitely something we can achieve in her home!

inspiration boho living room

The Design Plan

As I began brainstorming ideas, the first thing I noticed when looking at photos of Anna’s home and the inspiration photos, is the amount of warm tones in the inspiration photo compared to her home. Anna has lots of grey in her home, from the kitchen cabinets to the accent chairs and the cool grey-tone floors. But the inspiration photo uses lots of warm tones like the warm wood floors, cream sofa, and brown leather accents.

In order to achieve a similar look as the inspo photo, we really want to make sure the selected furniture and accessories incorporate lots of texture and warmth along with warm toned colors that work with grey.

For Anna’s living room and dining room design plan, we’re tackling:

  • Layout

  • Lighting

  • Color palette

  • Furniture

  • Accessories

This is the design board rendering I created for Anna’s dining and living room. It really only takes a few key pieces to turn a space into a really fun, welcoming place you are excited to hang out in. It still reflects the open and airy vibe Anna was going for, while selecting pieces that tie in nicely with the grey floors ad dark wood accents.

Let’s jump into my thought process on my design selections and how I chose furniture and decor!

Click to read how I created a design plan to transform one of my reader's grey toned living room into a cozy mid-century modern retreat. I cover everything about how to find ideas, decide on a layout, and more!

Shop the Look:

seagrass rug, printed rug, sectional, gold side table, coffee table, faux fur pillows, tufted pillow, colorful pillow, media center



Floor Plan

First, let’s talk layout and developing a floor plan. The space needs to function as both a living room and dining room, so it’s important to define the two spaces. It’s easy for an open concept space to feel like just one oversized room, but it’s much harder to furnish a huge area and it functions better when there are smaller defined conversation areas. Because the rooms are connected, they need to play off each other so it feels cohesive and international, and not like a disruption when you go from the dining area to living area.

The couch is a good physical divider from the dining room and living room. I’d leave the dining table where Anna currently has it, and position the TV along the wall near the entrance, parallel to the couch. This layout breaks up the room into two conversation areas while still allowing for traffic flow.

Furniture

Anna was starting from scratch as she furnished her living room and was in the market for a new durable couch that can withstand 3 busy, young kids. A sectional is a great option not only because of the layout of her living room, but it also offers lots of seating for their family. As far as durability, leather is your best friend. I chose a large brown leather sectional because it’s big enough for family movie night and can easily be wiped clean and will last for years.

Then for a coffee table, I went with a round shape and open bottom so it doesn’t feel heavy and boxy since we want to keep a light and open feeling. The TV will sit along the wall opposite the couch, so I chose a dark wood media center that repeats the dark brown color of the couch and distributes it evenly throughout the room so it feels balanced.

Color Palette

There are a whole lot of cool greys going on right now in Anna’s home, but if you look at her inspiration picture, there are lots of warm colors. She wants the light and airy vibe so her white walls work, but we need to bring in some warmth using accessories so it feels warm and inviting, especially during the winter months when it’s freezing outside. The trick to adding warmth when sticking to a fairly neutral color palette is through texture. Lots of layers with things like pillows and even rugs with a variety of textures go a long way to add some interest and dimension.

Lighting

Lighting is overwhelming because it can be expensive and there are typically lots of light fixtures needed, especially in large open concept spaces. I wrote an entire blog post about how to pick the right light fixture size and style for your home. In an open concept area, you want lighting to flow and feel carefully selected, rather than totally mis-matched from the dining room to the living room. This was one of the topics that Anna struggled with most. Her husband disliked the hanging “balls” from the ceiling in the kitchen, but she was unsure what light fixture to get as replacement. In open concept spaces, I usually suggest recessed lighting and a combination of overhead lighting such as a chandelier or pendant and accent lights like a floor lamp. Recessed lights are commonly used in open concepts because they add light without requiring lots of pendants. All the hanging ball fixtures feel like overkill in the kitchen. I’d recommend Anna replace the hanging balls with recessed can lights in the kitchen, and then get a new chandelier to hang above the dining room table that fits her style a little better, an then use an arched lamp as accent lighting in the living area.



Accessories

The key here is lots of plants! Plants fill space and bring life and organic texture into the space, which is exactly what we need. I added a fiddle leaf fig tree next to the media center and a smaller plant to sit on the other side. Since layers are essential for a warm, initing space, I used faux fur pillows, a textured tassel pillow, a fur throw and layered 2 rugs. Anna has a pretty vintage style rug with a beige-y undertone already that would work great. I paired that with a natural seagrass rug and it instantly warms up the space without competing with the grey floors. With the TV sitting next to several windows, window treatments are a must to prevent glare and to also provide some privacy. I added floor to ceiling drapes in white on all the living room windows to stick with the light and airy vibe. The final layer of accessories I incorporated are things like vases, trays, and other objects. Anna loves all things sparkly and shiny, so I used brass metal accents to play it up and give the space a little something special.

Hopefully you liked this example of how to decorate a mid-century modern living room and turn it into a cozy, airy retreat!

What do you think of the before and after? What’s your biggest struggle with decorating your home right now?

Click to read how I created a design plan to transform one of my reader's grey toned living room into a cozy mid-century modern retreat. I cover everything about how to find ideas, decide on a layout, and more!

3 Major Differences Between E-Design and Traditional Full-Service Design

3 differences between online interior e-design and traditional full-service design. have you ever wondered about online interior design services? I'm sharing the 3 major differences and how you can know which option is best for you to help you decorate your home.

Online interior design, or e-design, is a newish concept in the design world. For years, interior design was always super expensive and for full-service projects that were starting from complete scratch. It wasn’t very attainable and certainly not for your average family. Traditional full-service interior design refers to the white-glove experience where you don’t have to lift a finger while the designer and team handles everything from room measurements, sources and plans out all the new pieces for the room, using finding really unique custom pieces that give your home that “wow, I’ve never seen anything like it before” factor.

When the Internet became more prevalent, e-design became a thing, and I’m so glad it did! It made e-design available to the masses and an attainable service that more people can take advantage of. I believe everyone’s home should be a place where you feel inspired and excited to take on life. After all, it’s the foreground for your families memories. I think if you’re going to spend the time and money decorating your home, you might as well do it right.

E-design meant anyone can get help decorating and create a home you love and are truly excited about because it’s all done online. You don’t have to live near your favorite designer, and it doesn’t mean you have to have an absurd budget either. So if you’re a creative who appreciates good design and aesthetics and you want a home that inspires you, but you just need some help bringing that vision that life, e-design might be a good fit for you!

3 Major Differences Between E-Design and Traditional Full-Service Design

Full-Service Design

Full-service interior design includes everything in the design process from start to finish. You work with a local designer to decorate your home, but since it’s in-person and a much longer timeline and usually custom pieces, the cost is higher. It’s the white glove service where the client doesn’t have to lift a finger or execute anything. The designer arrives at your home to take all the room measurements, comes up with design boards for inspiration to propose to the client, creates the floor plan with space planning and lighting plans and more. Each and every new piece is sourced by the designer, usually selecting unique and one-of-a kind pieces to give your home a custom look no one else has. Because of the unique and custom pieces that are made to order, the lead time is much longer, often weeks to months before a single piece arrives. It’s the nature of the business when working with full-service projects or when working with renovations.

During the course of the design project, there are several in-person design meetings where the designer will share progress and get the client’s approval on items. Since it’s a white glove approach, the client doesn’t want much involvement with the process and wants to just rely on the designer. Once the designs are approved, the designer then orders the items and has them shipped and installs every piece in your home for you, coordinating painters, electricians, etc.

Full-service is a great option for you if you don’t want to be involved in the design process at all and don’t want to deal with ordering furniture and decor yourself, you’d rather leave that to the designer. If you don’t enjoy decorating but want a beautifully decorated home, full-service may be a good option for you.


E-Design

E-design services still include the same deliverables as full-service design such as an inspiration board, design board with 3D renderings, and a floor plan, but the process is different. First off, you are still working with a professional designer and have their guidance as they work with you to create the overall design concept, but everything is done online through email or video calls. The designer will source items for your home just as a full-service designer would, but it will be retail items and not super custom pieces. This means the timeline is quicker because most retail items are in stock and ready to ship right away. The major plus to e-design is there isn’t a need to meet in person, which means you can work with an e-designer no matter your location. So if you have a designer you love following on Instagram and she offers e-design services, but you live on the other side of the US, you can still work with her!

Second, the e-design process is usually much faster than full-service and often takes just a few weeks. My design package for a single room is structured as a 2-week timeline. If you want fast results that aren’t drug out for months, e-design is definitely the way to go!

The third major difference between full-service design and e-design is installation. Since the designer works virtually with you, the client orders the furniture and decor online and installs the new items in their home. As long as you like ordering online, this isn’t a big deal to e-design clients!

E-design is very much a collaboration between the client and I. I encourage the client’s feedback and want to know what ideas they have in mind, if they have specific pieces they want incorporated, etc. If you want to bring ideas for a rug you saw and love or a sofa you think you want, that’s great and I will definitely work with that!

E-design is a great option for you if you know what you like but just need some help knowing what looks good and pulling it all together in your home so it looks cohesive. You still want to be involved with the process and order the items online yourself, but you need the guidance of a professional to make final decisions.

So to sum it up, the 3 major differences between full-service design and e-design is the length of time for a project, the cost, and the fact that installation is done by the client, not the designer. But if you don’t mind ordering online and unboxing, e-design can be a great option for you to get that room decorated you’ve been wanting to finish!

I love that e-design makes interior design services available to everyone and in a much more approachable way. Decorating your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful if you have a little help. It will be so worth it in the end when you come home after a long day and can just RELAX in your beautiful, cozy living room, wine in hand of course ;)



How to Choose the Right Light Fixture Size and Style for Your Home

Your guide to help you choose the right light fixture sizes and style for your home. Overwhelmed with the daunting task of picking out new lighting for your living room or kitchen? There are a few tips to keep in mind that will ensure you pick the right light fixture for your space. Click to read the full post.

Lighting is an important feature of your home and it’s one of the major decisions you’ll have when decorating. It’s also one of the most overwhelming tasks you’ll have...eek! Obviously, lighting serves a purpose so you want to make sure you have right amount of light for your space. But it also plays a big role in your room’s design. Light fixtures range from blingy and statement-making to simple, and the lighting you choose can really influence the overall design of your room.

Searching for the perfect light fixture can be a daunting task, as you sift through hundreds of options looking for the right style, comparing quality and budget. I know when I was picking out lighting for our home I spent hours so it was definitely a labor of love. But it’s always worth it in the end when you find the light fixture that is the right size and style for your home.

Don’t have hours to spend looking for the perfect light fixture? I can help with that!

If you are looking to replace the boring builder-grade light fixtures, or if you’re renovating and picking out all new light fixtures, this post will provide some tips to help you choose the best size and style for your home.

I’ll go over the 3 different types of lighting, first, and then I’ll get into lighting recommendations by room and how to determine the correct sizing.


Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the main source of light in a room, most often coming from an overhead light or recessed lighting. It’s the source that provides the most amount of light. Utilitarian rooms like kitchens and bathrooms generally need more light than hallways, living rooms, and dining rooms.

There are calculations you can do to see how many lumens or watts your space needs based on its size that you can then convert into light bulbs when you are deciding what light fixtures to get for your space. It’s important to have the proper amount of light in a room because there is nothing worse than a kitchen that is poorly lit so you can’t see what you’re doing when chopping veggies.

Since the calculations can get a little complicated if you aren’t a pro at calculating lumens (which I am not), I usually go by the number of light bulbs in a light fixture to get a rough idea. For ambient lighting in a room like a bedroom size, you’ll want at least 3 light bulbs around 60W. If you have an open concept living room that is fairly large, you’ll want 5 or more light bulbs in your ambient lighting that you choose.

It may sound confusing, but you don’t want to ignore this – it really is important! Before our kitchen makeover, I got a cheap IKEA pendant light to hang over our kitchen table. This was before I knew the importance of lumens, so I just got a pendant light with one light bulb and I figured it’d be fine. But once we installed it, the kitchen felt so dark because it didn’t have provide enough watts to light up the space, and the downward facing pendant was more suitable for an island as task lighting than an ambient light. So during our kitchen renovation we installed a new light fixture above our table and now we have more than enough light to fill the space and it truly makes a big difference.

how to choose a light fixture for above a table

Task Lighting

Task lighting is made for specific activities or uses such as sconces for nighttime reading, a desktop lamp, or a light above a vanity mirror. It lights up the space even more, and more directly, than what an ambient light can do. We have sconces next to our bed and not only is it nice to have when reading at night, but it also adds to the design and adds a nice touch.

sconce lights next to bed

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is the most decorative of the 3 type of lighting that plays up architectural elements or a decorative focal point like a fireplace, built-ins, or piece of art. We actually don’t have much accent lighting in our home, because it’s older and pretty small, so ambient lighting with some task lighting works for us.



Now that we’ve covered the 3 types of lighting, let’s dig into the different styles of overhead lighting: flush mounts, chandeliers and pendants.

Flush Mounts

Flush mounts are generally used in rooms with lower ceilings, smaller rooms, or where you don’t want to make a big statement with a chandelier.

Chandeliers

Chandeliers are statement fixtures that hang down from the ceiling. They  are often used over dining tables, in larger living rooms, or entryways and large foyers.

Pendants

Pendants are similar to chandeliers in that they hang down from the ceiling, but they are a smaller scale and usually have just one lightbulb. You’ll often see pendants over islands. Because they’re smaller scale, they are often hung in groups such as 2 or 3.

Determining the Size of Light Fixtures Needed

When deciding what light fixture to get, you need to first consider size. You want a fixture that is big enough for your space that doesn’t look proportionally small.

For ambient lighting, measure the length and width of the room. Then add them together and convert to inches, and that’s the ideal size for a light fixture.  For example, an 18-inch wide fixture would be ideal for an 8x10 foot room.

When figuring out the properly sized pendant for your kitchen island, measure the length of your island. Then, decide if you like the look of 2 or 3 pendants. If you go with 3 pendants, the pendant size can be smaller, but if you go with 2 pendants, they should be more oversized. After measuring the island, take into account the amount of space needed between each pendant. A good rule of thumb is to space pendants about 30 inches apart. Then you can go from there and calculate what size of pendants would fit above your island, leaving 6 inches of clearance on both ends of the island so no pendant hangs over the edge.

For dining room lights, look for chandeliers that are about ⅔ the size of your dining room table for a proportionate size.

Just remember, usually a single chandelier or pendant isn’t enough to light an entire room, so you want to include a combination of all 3 types of lighting such as table or floor lamps, bedside lamps, and task lighting above a sink or vanity.

Lighting Styles

One of the biggest questions around choosing lighting is what type of style to get, and do they all have to match? My recommendation is that lighting should play up the other elements in your room. A room can have a couple different metal finishes, but you want to choose one dominant metal to use throughout your home. For example, it’s perfectly ok to use a combination of both matte black and brass metal accents in your home for cabinet hardware, sink faucets, and door knobs, but choose a dominant and stick with it. That can help you decide which color to go with for your light fixture. So, if you have brass hardware in your kitchen, a black sink faucet, and brass curtain rods, and black is the dominant metal in your home, you’ll probably want to choose black pendants for above your kitchen island.

If you are choosing lighting for an open concept living and dining room, the lighting should compliment each other but it doesn’t have to be the exact same. Find a common element among the lighting in both rooms and play that up.

Lighting is a super fun and relatively easy way to add drama or make a statement in any room. Sometimes the most simple and basic rooms just need a cool chandelier to give it that punch it needs. While nice light fixtures are a bit of an investment, especially when you need multiples, they are easy to fix in about an hour, unlike painting a room which can take hours.



Choosing the Right Furniture and Decor for Your Home

Do you wish you knew what looked good together and how to pick out furniture and decor for your home? If you are overwhelmed with all the options out there and afraid to make decisions you'll regret later, click to read this blog post that gives you 3 helpful questions to ask yourself before making a purchase.

I’ll admit, one of the most overwhelming and intimidating parts of decorating is picking out furniture and decor. The stakes are high because you don’t want to waste money and get something you’ll regret a few months later. Things like dining tables and sofas are not cheap, so you don’t want to buy the wrong item and then be stuck with it.

We’ve all been there before. You finally found an accent chair you like and after much thought, you decide to buy it. Once you get it home, you realize it’s a little too big, or maybe the color doesn’t quite go with the rest of the pieces in your room. So you decide to move it around your house, trying to find a spot for your chair in another room, but nothing seems to work. You wonder if maybe you should paint it or reupholster it? But what color? Ultimately, you’re not happy with how the chair looks in any room in your home, and now you’re suffering design regret and wish you never bought it in the first place. The worst part is, now you have to start all over, searching for a new chair to fit the original place you intended for it to sit.

As annoying and frustrating (not to mention costly!) this is, it happens ALL the time for people. I was on that vicious cycle myself a couple years ago, going back and forth between what I wanted and not really knowing what furniture or decor looked right together. I’d bring a piece home I thought might work, and sure enough, a few months later, I’d be wishing I got something else and regretted my decision. This is why I went through 3 coffee tables in just 2 years. Yes, 3!

Who has that kind of time and money to waste on this whole “trial and error” process? Not me!

Related Post: Your Guide to Shopping for Furniture Online + My Favorite Resources

After a while of this back and forth cycle, I realized it was always the same contributing factors that caused me to regret my decisions that I could have easily avoided in the first place. So I came up with 3 questions to ask yourself before buying anything to avoid that design regret and make sure you get something you actually will love for the long-term.

Just asking yourself these questions first can save you a bunch of time and money because you aren’t wasting time looking for pieces that won’t work in your home or that you’ll regret. You can totally write them down on a note in your phone so you can refer back to the questions next time you’re contemplating buying something. They are so ingrained in me now, I just automatically rule anything out right away if they don’t meet all criteria from each of the 3 questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself First to Make Sure You Choose the Right Furniture and Decor for Your Home

Does it Align with Your Style?

First and foremost, whatever it is you’re considering, needs to align with your decorating style. Your decorating style ensures that it truly feels like you, and not something you'll tire of quickly. You also want to make sure it will go with the rest of your furniture and decor in your home so it doesn’t feel out of place or totally random. Sticking to your signature style keeps you to a cohesive look that flows nicely, and of course, reflects you.

Do You Genuinely LOVE It?

In other words, are you buying it just to cross it off your list, or are you buying it because you truly love it and it’s exactly what you were looking for? It’s easy to settle for something so you can finish your space and move on, but if you don’t love the piece, you will always keep an eye out for something else and never feel satisfied with it. Searching for the right piece requires lots of patience, but you’ll be much happier in the end if you wait until you find something that truly makes you happy.

Is it Exactly What You Wanted?

If you don’t know what you want, then take a step back and find out exactly what it is you need, or you’re setting up yourself for design regret. Think about the functionality of your space first and determine your needs. How do you use the space? Are there certain requirements you must have? How big does it need to be? What color? Is it big enough store everything? The more specific about your needs you are upfront, the easier it is to choose the right piece.

If you completely forget to think about size and how big you need something to be, you will be disappointed when you bring it home and realize it doesn’t quite meet your expectations. It’s super important to measure everything you’re considering buying, so you know if it fits the space appropriately.  When you’re shopping in store, bring a tape measure and make sure you measured your space beforehand so you know what you’re working with. If you’re shopping online, check the specs for dimensions. A few years ago I failed to measure properly before we bought our first couch and when we brought it home, it turned out to be way too big for the space. I had measured our room beforehand, but I forgot to take into consideration that we needed space for a walkway as well. Needless to say, it was a tight squeeze and we ended up getting a new couch just a year and a half later because the other one just didn’t work and was too big. So let that be a lesson to you to always make sure it checks all the boxes and is what you need AND is the right size for your space.

If you ask yourself these 3 questions before buying a big ticket item like a couch or dining table or even a statement chandelier, and can easily say yes to each question, then you’re good to go! You can relax knowing you’re making a good decision you’ll love. If you answer no to at least one, then you may want to reconsider your choice and look for something else.

Searching for the right piece of furniture takes some time, but these 3 things are critical in making sure you choose the right pieces that mesh with your style and home that fit your needs, and can save you tons of time by not having to make trips back to the store for returns. Plus, you’ll be much happier at the end with your beautifully decorated space!

What is your biggest regret you’ve purchased?

Decorate Your Home Quickly with Online Interior E-Design Services: The Step by Step Process

Want help from an interior designer without spending a fortune and waiting months and months for the end result? Online interior e-design services are just what you're looking for! It's a fast and simple way to decorate your home, all done virtually.

It’s amazing what we can do these days with a little technology!

Online interior design services, or e-design, is becoming more and more prevalent because it’s convenient and accessible. It offers the same results as an interior designer who comes to your home and works with you to plan out a room design, but it’s all done virtually online. So it’s really the best of both worlds because now you aren’t limited to working with someone located in your area, but you can work with any designer no matter your location, if they offer e-design services, and you get the same end result!

You may have some questions around how e-design works and wha the process looks like. Is it all done online? Is it truly possible to decorate a home from across the country, without stepping foot inside your home?

Yes, yes, and YES!

If you like online shopping and can handle responding to email, e-design is a great fit for you! Since it’s all done online, you don’t have to worry about a designer coming to your home and scramble to pick up first. We’ve all been there ha. All you have to do is send some pictures of your space, take a few measurements, and sit back while I work my design magic! Once you approve the designs, I’ll send you the design plan and shopping list. Then, you choose to buy pieces on your time as your budget allows, without any pressure.

The best part about e-design compared to traditional full-service design is it is a much quicker turnaround and more affordable. So if you’ve ever wanted to work with a designer on your home, but don’t want to wait months and months to see the end result, e-design is the perfect option.

Here’s a look at my e-design process so you can see how streamlined and simple it really is.

E-Design Process

Step 1. Book Your Spot

The first step after the inquiry is to book a 2-week time frame on my calendar for us to work together. I work with clients on 2-week schedules because it keeps the process streamlined and allows me to focus on just that one project, rather than splitting my time between multiple clients, which ultimately lengthens the turnaround time. That way, you get my full attention and get your designs within 2 weeks!

We find a two-week window that is open for both you and I. It’s important we are both available (ideally not traveling) during those 2 weeks so we can respond to any questions that may come up quickly as not to delay the 2 week turnaround. I try to provide all the information needed upfront to minimize back and forth in email during the 2 weeks. That way, it allows enough time to revise the design if needed!

I have an online calendar that shows my availability so it’s super easy to see the dates I’m available and choose what works best for you. Oh, technology, coming in handy ;)

Once we have a two week schedule that works for both of us, I’ll email over a contract, and the 50% deposit is required to secure your date. This locks your date so no one else can take it.

As soon as you send over the signed contract and 50% deposit (all done easily electronically!), you’ll receive my welcome packet that explains what to expect, helpful documents, and your client homework, which brings me to step 2.

Step 2. Client Homework

I’m passionate about helping others find their signature decorating style, so I of course wanted to include it in my e-design process! Before we can begin designing your space, we need to get to know you, your style, and what you’re drawn to aesthetically, and learn your needs for the space. It starts with a detailed style questionnaire that you fill out. You’ll answer questions like “How would you describe your current style now?”, “If you could envision your dream home, how would it look and feel?” and “What’s your biggest decorating challenge?”

Part two of your client homework are the before photos and measurements from your space You’ll just have to take pictures of the room we’re refreshing from all angles so I can get a good look, and you’ll measure the size of the room. In my welcome packet there will be instructions on how to take the best photos and the measurements so it’s really easy.

Part three of your client homework is all about inspiration. I like using Pinterest for this part because it makes gathering your inspiration super simple. In the welcome packet you’ll find instructions for how to create your Pinterest board of inspiration photos.

Once you finish your client questionnaire, take before photos and measurements, and create your Pinterest board of inspiration, we are ready to get started designing!

Step 3. Design Plan

Once I receive all your client homework, I start designing! This is when the 2 weeks begin, so I will go through your client homework and create your design plan. If needed, we can schedule a Skype call to talk through anything before I start the design. Once I finish your first round design board, I’ll send it over to you for review. You’ll provide any feedback you have and ask for changes if necessary. Then, I’ll revise the designs based on your feedback and send to you for final review. You can ask for any changes as long as we stay within the 2 week timeline, so you never have to worry about not liking the end result! When sourcing, I always stick to your budget and find pieces that are high-quality and something I would feel good about bringing into my own home. I read reviews and do lots of research to make sure I’m not just selecting any piece, but something that will last and meet your standards for the best price. Researching pieces and finding deals is one of my favorite things to do!

At the end of the two weeks once you approve the designs, I’ll hand over the design board, floor plan to scale, master shopping list with links to everything in the design, and any special design instructions for your space. At this point, you have everything you need to purchase items from the shopping list and bring the design to life in your home!

After we wrap up your room project, you can email me with any questions that may come up, if something goes out of stock, etc. I’m here for you the whole way!

If e-design is something you’re interested in and would like me to design your home, I’d love to hear from you! Click here to work together.



Simple Budget-Friendly Ways to Update Your Home

Does your house need some design updates? Here are 6 affordable ideas to update your spaces fast

Do you ever feel like your home needs a little something something but not quite sure what? I’m sure you’ve scoured Pinterest looking for ideas, tried rearranging, and even swapped out pieces from other rooms in your home, but nothing feels right.

Here are 6 updates that really pack a punch and instantly transform a room without paying a fortune if you aren’t up for a whole room refresh.


Slipcovers

If you’re tired of your sofa and wish it was a different color, or maybe it has seen better days, slipcovers are a great option to instantly change the overall look of your couch for much cheaper than if you bought a new sofa. You can find a variety of slipcovers online. My personal favorites are fitted, so they look neat and tailored. Wayfair and Joss and Main have some nice slipcover options with a wide range of prices. I’m actually looking at getting a custom slipcover for the sake of keeping our white sofa clean, so I can just throw it in the wash and not have to worry about stains. ComfortWorks makes custom slipcovers that fit your furniture exactly and I’ve heard great things about them. In the picture above, you can see how a slipcover really updated the couch and now it fits with the rest of the room much better!

sofa before slipcover.jpg
sofa with clipcover.jpg

via Love Grows Wild

Paint

Never underestimate the power of paint. Paint is one of the cheapest ways to transform literally anything. I always suggest starting with paint first when wanting to update a piece. Sometimes it just needs a fresh color to make you fall in love with it all over again! If you need help choosing colors for your home, this post may help you.

Related: How to Choose Paint Colors

painted kitchen cabinets.jpg

via Inspiration for Moms

Hardware

Hardware can get a little spendy, depending on the kind of knobs you get and how many you need, but they really do update the look and help modernize your cabinets. They’re also super easy to install yourself! We recently updated our interior doorknobs and hinges to worn brass to all matte black in our home, and it totally changed the look and makes the space feel more modern and in line with my style. The kitchen cabinets above look 10 times better with a coat of paint and some hardware.


Accessories

Think about how’d you dress up a basic tee and jeans outfit. You could add fun jewelry, a red lip, or even a pair of killer shoes, and it instantly changes the vibe of your whole outfit. Same goes for accessorizing your home! A pretty mirror, pillows, fun art, a rug, or different window treatments can instantly update a room. See how the vibe of the room pictured above completely changes when the rug is swapped out from a busy pattern to a lighter, neutral airy rug. Carefully select your accessories because they work together to create the whole look and feel you’re trying to achieve.

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Emily-Henderson-At-Home-With-Parachute10.jpg

via Emily Henderson

Cut Clutter

Whenever I feel like a space needs a little refresh, I always give it a good decluttering. I go through things and toss what I don’t use or don’t love. Then, I look for ways to organize what’s left in a pretty, concealed way (i.e. store pillows in a woven basket rather than an open wire basket). I’m a big fan of closed storage because it hides what’s inside and keeps the overall look clean and fresh, rather than looking visually busy or “messy”. So when trying to cut clutter and reduce the overall busyness in a room, use closed baskets such as wicker or fabric, rather than wire baskets where you can see the items inside.


Plants

I think everyone should have at least one plant in each room. Real or faux, they truly bring the space to life and add an organic shape and texture that creates interest. If you have a weird corner in your home and aren’t sure what to put there, try a plant! They help fill space and make decorating look intentional and put-together.

My fiddle leaf fig tree is my absolute favorite plant. I was nervous it would be difficult to care for since I’ve heard they’re finicky, but I’ve kept to a regular watering schedule and it’s doing great and has grown over a foot since I got it! A few other good large plants are snake plants, palm leaf, yucca, dragon trees, olive trees, and the rubber plant. You can buy full size plants, but if you buy a smaller plant that still has lots of growing to do, you can get them for a more affordable price. For example, a real full size fiddle leaf fig tree can cost $150 or more, but if you get a smaller version like the one I have, it cost about $30. I bought mine online from Home Depot! If you’re more of a faux plant girl, this is a good option for a faux fiddle leaf fig tree. It’s six feet so it makes a statement which I love. Put your plant in a cute little pot or basket and you have yourself a pretty addition to your space.

fiddle leaf fig tree .jpg

Best Target Home Finds You Need to Check Out

Love shopping at Target? Me too! I've rounded up the best Target home decor buys I can't live without.

Target is killing it these days, or really, for several years. They have so many cute lines of home decor, exclusive partnerships with Joanna Gaines and more, and that’s just the beginning. I mean, how can you not love their affordable prices?! It’s a no-brainer to shop Target for decor and accessories. I love myself a Target run, despite the fact that they make it TOO EASY to drop $100. I mean, there’s always something you find you could use.

New pillow? Yep.

Cute wall decor you’ve been eyeing now on sale? Yes.

Almond butter? Why not.

Please tell me it’s not just me.

While I pride myself on finding the best stuff at Target, I’m always curious to know what’s in everyone’s shopping cart, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite finds from Target.


The Best Target Home Finds

Stripe Cotton Blanket

We have this blanket draped on our white couch to help keep it clean, and I absolutely love it. It happens to be the exact same color as our couch so it blends in nicely, but it also washes up really well and hasn’t pilled or stained at all. It’s a nice weight and just an overall good blanket to have on hand. It comes in a few different colors too

Wire Storage Baskets

My heart pitter patters every time I see storage baskets and these wire baskets are no different. We use them in our linen closet to organize towels, toilet paper, and other things. They’re nice quality, come in a variety of sizes, and look super cute while keeping everything neat and organized.

Alarm Clock

Do people use digital bedside clocks anymore besides me? I hadn’t used one since high school because I just used my phone, but since I place my phone on the opposite side of the room from our bed, I force myself to get up right away when my alarm goes of (that way I’m not tempted to skip my morning workout). Only thing is, I could never check the time during the night. So glad I found this cute digital clock, and it goes with the decor in our bedroom which of course, is a must.

Fieldcrest Towels

I actually just ordered these after our wedding since it was time we finally replace the towels from college. My sister has these and recommended them and they do not disappoint! The towels are plush and thick, yet dry fast and are lightweight. They definitely feel like high quality towels! Plus, online in the description, it says they resist benzoyl peroxide bleaching which is amazing. My night time face products always bleached towels and my pillowcases in the past so it’s great I no longer have to worry about huge bleach spots on my towels. Highly recommend them! They come in many colors, but I got navy, surprise surprise :)

O-Cedar Spin Mop

Cleaning the floors may be my least favorite chore, behind washing dishes. There’s something about the dirty soapy water and gross mop head that makes me cringe every time. A year or two ago I got the O-Cedar Spin Mop and it makes washing floors so much better. It rings out the water with the press of a foot and you can throw the mop head in the washer when you’re done so you’re not dragging a dirty mop all over your floors each use.

White Comforter Set

I got this comforter set for our guest room and I was a little surprised with how nice it looks. It has some texture which I like and the button detail is super cute. The weight is nice, not too thin and cheap, and the price is pretty reasonable. Definitely a nice overall comforter if you’re in need.


Simple Human Trash Can

I know, I know, a trash can, really? But trust me, it’s that good! With a dog in the house, Bria was always trying to stick her head in the garbage can when we weren’t looking (even in the middle of the night!). We had a super cheap trash can with the swing lid, so she had no problem getting into the garbage and it was a constant battle of us yelling at her to stop. When we renovated our kitchen this past summer, I used it as an opportunity to get a decent looking trash can (we don’t have room to put one under the sink) that shut properly so Bria couldn’t get into it. The Simple Human trash can looks sleek and the flip up lid is flush with the top of the trash can so she can’t lift it open with her nose. I tested all the other trash cans at our local Target and this was the only one that is flush so she wouldn’t be able to lift the lid herself.  I love it! It really is the simple things. It has a fairly high price tag for a trash can, but it functions perfectly for what we need, is a nice wide size, and looks good in our kitchen. Totally worth it!

What are your favorite Target finds? Share in the comments - I’d love to try them out!

Your Guide to Shopping for Furniture Online + My Favorite Stores

shopping for furniture online can be a little tricky, especially since you can't actually test any of it out yourself first. read my tips on what I always look for when I'm buying online so I know what I'm getting and won't be disappointed once it arrives. Plus, I'm sharing my favorite places to shop for furniture online! Click to read

I’m a avid online shopper and prefer it over in-store shopping for most items because of its convenience and ability to quickly look at several items and easily compare while sitting on the couch in my leggings. It’s easy to search exactly what I’m looking for and I don’t have to fight crowds or check out lines.

However, when it comes to shopping for furniture online, it can get a little tricky. How are you supposed to buy something, like a couch or dining chair, online without ever sitting on it to test it out? You can’t, obviously...That’s one of the tradeoffs of online shopping in the comfort of your own home.

So, to make shopping for furniture online a little less scary, there are a few things I’ve learned over my extensive online shopping experiences over the years that I ALWAYS look for before ordering online to ensure I don’t totally regret my decision when the piece arrives.

How to Shop for Furniture Online

Read Reviews

Anytime I’m looking at something online no matter what it is, I always read reviews to see what other people are saying. You do have to take reviews with a grain of salt, as you never truly know how truthful they are, but reviewers usually point out things like color or quality or size that you wouldn’t be able to get a true sense of online, so they are definitely helpful to at least read. When there are several bad comments or if it has under 3 stars, I usually pass on the item and keep looking for something else. If the site you’re on doesn’t have any reviews, try Googling the name of your product and seeing if you can find any other retailers online that sell the same product that might have reviews or if someone else has written an article about the product.

Free Shipping AND Returns

This one is major. I almost exclusively only buy from sites that offer free shipping and returns. Free shipping is especially important when buying furniture online, because the bigger the item, the higher shipping cost. Sometimes it can cost hundreds of dollars and who wants to spend that on shipping? A lot of retailers are offering free shipping now luckily, so I hardly even look at retailers if they don’t offer any kind of free shipping or returns, or if there isn’t a store located near me that I can return there if needed. I just don’t want to pay extra to ship an item if there are other options out there that do it for free.

Furniture can sometimes look different online than what you expected, so it’s important to be able to return pieces for a full refund without having to pay an arm and a leg to ship it back. I always check if the retailer offers free return shipping before ordering something so I know that if for some reason I don’t like the piece and need to return, I can.

I’ve returned or exchanged a few items I bought online because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted after seeing it in person, including a patio table and kitchen chairs, and the free returns have been a life-saver.


Great Customer Service

This goes along with free shipping, but a company with amazing customer service turns me into a loyal customer and I keep coming back. I want the peace of mind that if I buy something and it’s just not working out or arrives damaged, I can return it easily without jumping through a million hoops. Some companies like Nordstrom are known for glowing customer service and I’ll choose them over a retailer offering the same item for slightly cheaper every time. Great customer service just makes the buying experience that much better and you feel good about your purchase.

A few of my personal favorite online stores that I’ve had great online experiences with are Target, Joss and Main, Wayfair, Article, Minted, West Elm, Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, and PBTeen. When I’m looking for furniture or decor, I always check these stores first and see if I can find what I need there. I’ve ordered from all of them online and each company was great and happily refunded me and sent a replacement if needed (there were a few instances).

I got our couch from Article online and we absolutely love it. I wrote all about our couch here, including the buying process. It seems crazy to buy a couch online without ever having sat on it, but Article offers free returns so if you don’t like, you can send it right back. I wasn’t finding what I wanted in store in our area, so it’s nice to have options online.

Related post: Ultimate Guide to Buying a Couch that Lasts


Double Check Size and Color

Computer screens makes it difficult to gauge the actual size of something, and the color isn’t necessarily a true depiction of what it looks like in-person. When it comes to size, always always ALWAYS get out your tape measure and measure your space in your home to makes sure the item is the correct size you need and that it will fit the space appropriately. I mis-measured when we were couch shopping the first time around a few years ago and forgot to allow room for a walkway (kind of important ha), so when the couch was delivered, it turned out to be way too big for the space and we were left with a TINY walkway. Definitely not ideal.

As far as color, if you’re ordering something upholstered, if possible, order fabric samples first. Usually companies offer them for free so you can see colors and textures in-person and compare it to the rest of the stuff in your home to make sure it matches. But if they don’t offer free samples, that’s why you want great customer service and free returns so you can return it if needed.

Is It Pre-Assembled

It’s nice to know if the furniture is pre-assembled or if you’ll have to put it together yourself. Let’s be honest, not everyone is up to the challenge of spending hours matching pieces and hammering nails. I don’t know about you, but I need to mentally prepare myself if it requires hours of assembly. Send all the wine and turn up T-swift, please.

Look at Materials

Since you can’t touch and feel the item through the computer screen, check what materials it’s made with. The materials tell a lot about the quality of the piece and if it will last. For wood furniture, solid wood is much more sturdy and usually more expensive than wood composite or particle board. Which is why IKEA furniture is so affordable. If you’re buying a table or couch or chair that will be used a lot, you probably want something that’s study and well-made so it can hold up to the heavy use. For night stands or entryway console tables, I’m ok with getting a piece that’s made with not as high of quality materials because they don’t get used like a couch.

Every time I’m shopping online for furniture, or really anything, I always look for these 5 essentials. I’ve definitely had times when an item arrived damaged, or the color was off, or it just wasn't the right size, but I’ve never been stuck with it or lost money because I did my research ahead of time to make sure I’d be able to return or exchange.

What are your favorite online stores or where have you shopped and had a great experience with ordering online? I’d love to hear!



4 Design Secrets to Creating a Cohesive Home that Flows

Ever wondered how the pros make cohesive rooms flow perfectly into each other? Now you'll know! Here are 4 design secrets to creating a cohesive home that flow

If you’ve ever looked at designer homes, you probably noticed how perfectly cohesive they are. Each room flows into the next, with no disruptions. Every space is so well-thought out and the colors and furniture all compliment each other nicely, from the kitchen to the master bedroom to the office.

We all strive for cohesiveness in our homes, but sometimes it’s hard to know how exactly to get there with so many different things that go into decorating. Here are 4 things all cohesive rooms have in common and how you can achieve it in your own home.

1. Color Scheme

Color scheme is first and foremost to creating a cohesive room. A set color story creates consistency and connects each room to each other.  You can vary the amount of color and the items in a particular color in each space so it’s not too boring or predictable. If you have blue throw pillows in your living room, try incorporating blue in a different room like your kitchen, with a rug or art. The key is not to mix too many colors. A whole house color scheme should have about 3-5 colors. Anything beyond that can get a little busy or chaotic. One color is your primary color – it’s the color that is used most in your room (or entire home), then you have a secondary and tertiary color. The secondary color should make up about 50% or less of that color in your space and the tertiary color makes up about 25% or less. If you have one or two more accent colors, these should be used sparingly as they are as the name implies, accent colors. With a set color palette, what you buy should fall within those color families more or less. Of course things like plants, other natural elements and any wood finishes fall outside of your color palette. By marrying each room together with like colors, your overall home will instantly feel more cohesive and put-together.

Related post: How to choose paint colors

2. Defined Style

For a cohesive home, you should have a defined style that you can at least put into words and have an idea visually of what it means to you. You do not have to have a style that is popular and all over Pinterest. But you should be able to identify what fits within your style and what doesn’t. When you starting mixing a traditional chair with a mid-century coffee table and farmhouse inspired end table with nothing to tie it together, it can feel random and mismatched, which we don’t want. Create some commonality among the pieces you bring in your space so it feels intentional and cohesive. If you have a predefined style you’re working with, you eliminate the other styles that don’t mix and stick to a few elements you can repeat in each room in your home.

3. Consistent Materials

Another easy tip is to repeat the same materials throughout your home to create a visually cohesive look. Let’s say you have pillows in your bedroom. Try incorporating velvet in different ways in the rest of your home such as velvet drapes in your dining room and a velvet chair in your living room. It’s a nice way to tie the design together from room to room without being too matchy. You could do this with any material you really like such as faux fur, linen, a pattern like stripes, geometric, or anything you love.

4. Traffic Flow

A well-thought out floor plan does wonders for a space. Follow the natural traffic flow and arrange furniture in clusters creating conversation areas. One of the most common mistakes is lining all the furniture along the wall. Especially if you have a large living room area, this feels too far away for conversation and it doesn’t feel cozy and welcoming. Try pulling the furniture away from the walls to create amore intimate setting.

Try these tips in your home and see what you think! You’ll be surprised how just honing in on these 4 key steps will pull each room together and feel more cohesive.

Still need help decorating your space? Girl, let me help you! I’ll work with you to create a room that reflects YOU that you love. Learn more here.


Paint 101 - How to Choose Paint Colors

everything you ned to know about choosing paint colors. with so many options it can be hard to know how to choose the right color for your home. read on for 4 tips to choosing the right colors

Have you ever stood in front of a paint swatch wall and wondered how on earth you can possibly pick the right color?

We all have. And it’s intimidating and scary...because who wants to spend time repainting? Not me!

I am a white walls girl so when we first moved into our home we painted every room white. But when we renovated our kitchen recently and picked out paint for the walls, I knew I wanted to go with a more creamy, warmer white to warm things up a bit. So I headed to Sherwin Williams and looked for a paint color that was still white, but warmer and a few shades darker than super white.

There are a few guidelines that make picking the right paint color much easier, so let’s jump right in.

PICK your Color Palette

Before you go to the paint store and confuse yourself looking at the endless paint colors, make sure you have set your color palette. You should at least know the 3-5 colors you want to use in your home (for all things, not just paint) so you have a starting point to work off of. I wrote a post all about how to choose your color palette right here. Go read that first!

Alright, now that you know your overall color story for your home, let’s move on.

everything you ned to know about choosing paint colors. with so many options it can be hard to know how to choose the right color for your home. read on for 4 tips to choosing the right colors


Undertones

If you look at a paint wall, you’ll notice there are different undertones to a single color. For example, the color gray has swatches with purple undertones, green undertones, and pink undertones. They are all gray, but different colors, or undertones, show through that alter the value of gray you see.

The best way to visually see the different undertones in a single color is to actually look at a paint wall with all the different values so you can compare. In the image above you can see many different shades of gray. The bottom row is the darkest color of each vertical stack that tells you what the undertone is for that vertical column. The reason this is important is because you want to choose a color with the right undertone for your space. Choosing the wrong gray (or whatever color you want) with the wrong undertone can make the walls look dirty or muddy and clash with the rest of your space. The goal is to find the undertone that compliments your overall space and everything in it.

So how do you know what undertone you should go with? Well, it starts with what undertones are already showing up in your room. Let’s use a kitchen as an example and say you’re trying to decide on the paint color for the walls. The backsplash is white subway tile, the countertops are a white quartz with some marbling and the cabinets are a light grey. The easiest way to identify the undertones in the backsplash, counters, and cabinets is to color match and hold up paint swatches in the color family and see if the white subway tile is a warm white, or a cool white, a yellowy white or a pinky white.

Do that for the counters and cabinets as well and take note what the undertones are in your kitchen. The general rule of thumb is that you want to match or compliment the curent undertones in your space. So if your cabinets are gray with pink undertones, your subway tile backsplash is white with pink undertones and your counters are white with yellowish undertones, then you should choose a wall color with pink undertones.

everything you ned to know about choosing paint colors. with so many options it can be hard to know how to choose the right color for your home. read on for 4 tips to choosing the right colors


Contrast

Contrast refers to the varying values of light and dark colors in your home. Contrast is good because it keeps things interesting and from looking too boring or similar. In order to achieve contrast in your home, you want to use both light and dark colors when picking out paint or other finishes and furniture. If we go back to the kitchen example, you wouldn’t want to do dark wood cabinets with dark black countertops and a dark backsplash because there is no contrast. Everything is all dark so there isn’t any variation in color and it would feel very heavy. A better option would be to choose a classic white quartz countertop to break up all the dark that’s going on.



Testing Paint Colors

Paint colors can look like totally different colors in different lights and different times of day. Alaina’s kitchen island for example, looks light grey in this photo, but during a different time of day in different light and angles it looks blue here. Crazy right?!

alaina-kaczmarski-home-kitchen-new-3.jpg
alaina-kaczmarski-home-tour-before-kitchen-blue.jpg

The only way to be absolutely sure what a color will look like is to observe it first hand. Paint a sample on your wall and see how it looks in the morning, afternoon, and evening. To get the best impression of your paint color and see the truest version, take a look at your paint sample at noon with the lights off and windows open.

There are tons of different paint brands out there and I’ve only tried just a few myself. We used Behr from Home Depot when we painted all the rooms white when we first moved in. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with the quality at all. It was runny and overall the finish wasn’t great.

For our trim and kitchen walls, we used Sherwin Williams paint and what a difference! It’s more expensive (especially the specific trim paint) but it went on so much better and the finish is amazing. Highly recommend Sherwin Williams!

There you have it, a guide to choosing paint colors.

Have you picked a paint color and regretted it later? What are some of your favorite paint colors?





Where to Buy Cheap Decorative Throw Pillows Online

where to buy cheap decorative pillows online. i'm sharing my secrets for the best places to shop online for cute and affordable pillows $30 and under

Throw pillows are superrrrr hard for me to resist. Some people are shoe or bag girls. I am a pillow girl ha. They are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to update any space. I tend to switch pillows seasonally so I like to have a few different ones to rotate. You don’t have to spend a lot to get cute pillows, so I’ve rounded up the best places to buy cheap decorative throw pillows online.


If I can help it, I like to buy pillow covers so I can remove them and throw them in the wash. You’ll just need to have pillow inserts to go inside your covers. I use down or down alternative pillow inserts that come in all different sizes like these. They are SO much more comfortable and “fluffy” looking than cotton fill pillows.

 

Target

Good old trusty Target is always my first stop for most decor I’m looking for, and pillows are no different. They have a good selection and their price points are around $30 and under, plus they do tend to run different home sales once in a while.

My Favorite Target Pillows

 

Amazon

I’ve recently started looking at Amazon for home items and they have some seriously good stuff! But, am I the only one who thinks shopping their site is a bit of a pain? It just seems a little random and the search results can be a bit weird. Needless to say, I did find some super cute pillows like this faux fur pillow cover for $10 that has tons of 5 star reviews and comes in a bunch of different colors.

 

My Favorite Amazon Pillows

Etsy

Etsy has TONS of shops with cute throw pillows and is another one of my favorite sources to find pillow covers. A couple of my my favorite shops are MotifPillows - they have hundreds of pillows to choose from with varying price points. Some are a little higher than others but you can find some reasonably-priced. Another great Etsy shop for boho pillows is Tshaj. They have really pretty, colorful boho pillows and lots of neutral options as well. Definitely worth checking out! Plus, there's nothing better than supporting a small business.

 

My Favorite Tshaj Pillows

My Favorite MotifPillow Pillows

World Market

Every time I walk into World Market I’m obsessed with everything. Online, they have pages and pages of throw pillows with great price points. Their holiday shop is such a good resource too (holidays are right around the corner eek!!) – so many cute fall and holiday decorations!  World Market often runs sales so keep an eye out.

 

My Favorite World Market Pillows

Zara Home

Zara Home is one I forget about sometimes, but every time I go check out their selection of pillows online I’m always pleasantly surprised and remind myself I need to check them out more often! They have some really pretty and unique pillows for around the $30 price range. How pretty is this geometric linen pillow?!

 

Hobby Lobby

This one is a bit of a surprise if you don’t frequent Hobby Lobby often. They actually have some really pretty pillows, and since they rotate 50% off sales constantly, you can get pillows for $15 or less! Here’s a little money-saving secret...Hobby Lobby sells pillow covers in the fabric section for about $10, so if you get them half off you can score pillow covers for $5 each. Such a good deal! I actually had a few of them in my college apartment back in the day.

 

Other places that might be worth checking in stores for pillows are HomeGoods, TJMaxx, and Gordmans (they are only in some states but have good pillows for around $10, plus lots of other home decor stuff for cheap)

 

Where do you shop for decorative throw pillows? Any places I didn't mention? 

 

How to Make a Room Refresh Design Plan

how to create a design plan for your next room makeover. i'm sharing the process I use when decorating any room that keeps me organized and on track. click to read on!

Over a year ago now I redecorated our living room and it quickly became my favorite room in our whole house. Before the refresh, I had decorated the space while I was still trying to figure out my decorating style, so it was all over the place and I wasn’t loving the way it looked. It needed something so it didn’t feel so blah. There were a few things I knew I wanted to change, so I decided to do a mini makeover so it better reflected my style and was the pretty, inspiring space I craved.

When I’m decorating a room, there are certain steps I do every time to make the process streamlined and organized. I thought I’d share the actual process I use to create a design plan for a room refresh.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to start decorating a room, whether it’s a blank slate or little refresh, without a plan at all. If you just start haphazardly buying things, without a real idea of what furniture and accessories you need, you’ll end up going in a million directions, feel overwhelmed and confused, and question whether you’re making the right decisions.

So I’m going to show you how to create a design plan for a living room, kitchen, office, bedroom, glam walk in closet, or any project you might be working on, no matter if you’re starting with a blank slate or if you’re simply refreshing a room.

For this post, I’m using the example of our kitchen remodel and redesign to show you how I planned out the entire design plan. 

I want to preface this by saying you should always take the time to find your decorating style FIRST if you don’t know it already, before you start creating a design plan. I know I say it over and over, but I stand by my word and truly believe you MUST know your signature decorating style before you begin any kind of decorating or you're just setting yourself up for failure. Knowing your style will just make the following design planning process much easier and faster because you’ve done a lot of the work upfront. Otherwise, if you don't know your decorating style, you run the risk of being all over the place with your design and not really happy with how it looks in the end. And we certainly don't want that to happen, amiright?

So, if you aren’t sure what your decorating style is or need help finding it, this post will walk you through it. Make sure you go do that before moving on to your design plan.

 

How to Plan Out a Room Refresh Design Plan

1. Gather Inspiration

First, you want to start by gathering inspiration to help guide you as you make decisions down the road. You may already have some ideas in your head of what you like, but you want to put everything in one place so all your inspiration is together. I like to use Pinterest since most of my inspiration comes from online, so I usually create a new Pin board for the room I’m working on. If you’re more of a paper and pencil girl, you can totally cut out magazine clippings or print out images and create a visual board. The main thing is put all your inspiration in one place.

kitchen design inspiration pinterest board

 

As you’re looking for inspiration, gather anything that speaks to you and reflects how you want your room to look and feel. When I’m deciding whether or not I should pin an image to my board, I always ask myself if I truly LOVE the way it looks. If it makes me happy and is something I would want in my own space, then I pin it to my board. 

You can spend as much time as you feel you need on gathering inspiration. Aim to have a good overall idea of how you want your room to look and you should be able to explain in words how you want your space to feel. If you can’t do that, keep looking for more inspiration.

 

2. Organize Your Thoughts

Once you have your complete inspiration board, find the common threads. Maybe it’s a color palette, the style of furniture, or a common vibe or feeling. Whatever they might be, take note of what elements you see show up again and again in your vision board. Then, start to organize your thoughts and make decisions as to what colors, patterns, furniture styles, wood finishes, and textures you want in your space. Use the common threads you found throughout your inspo photos and choose the elements you love most that you want to use in your room design. Whatever colors, patterns, furniture, wood finishes you decide on, just make sure you LOVE them and how they all look together. 

If you read this post on finding your decorating style, this step should be fairly easy for you because most of the hard work is already done. You should have your 5 decorating elements already defined, so now it’s just a matter of deciding which of the elements will be used where/how in your space.

Your goal for this step is to decide which colors, patterns, furniture styles, wood finishes, and textures you will use in your design plan.

As an example, here are the elements I’m using for our kitchen design. You can see everything still aligns with the rest of the decor in our home so it all flows from room to room. We will be using the same wood floors we have in the living room and hallway, butcher block countertops, white subway tile with gray grout lines, light gray cabinets, white walls, a round rustic wood table with modern chairs and a mobile pendant light fixture, with matte black accents.

modern rustic classic kitchen design inspiration

 

By now you should have a pretty good idea of the direction you’re headed for your space, but the design doesn’t have to be completely set yet so you can make a few tweaks later if needed.

 

3. Decide on a Floor Plan

Now you need to decide on a floor plan. You may be keeping it the same as your existing floor plan or you might want to switch it up. There really is no right or wrong choice here, you just want a floor plan that works for you and your space and flows nicely. The main thing is to try to keep furniture from hugging all of the walls, and to allow room for the natural flow of traffic and conversation areas in your room.

I like to sketch different floor plan options on a paper and think of all the different configurations I can come up with. Then, decide which option works best. You will want to grab a tape measure and actually measure your room dimensions and furniture you plan to use in that room to make sure it fits with your proposed floor plan. If you need any new furniture, measure your room and decide what size of pieces you need that will fit appropriately and include them in your floor plan drawing.

I also physically rearrange furniture in my room to test out different arrangements and use painter’s tape to mark off pieces of furniture I don't have yet but need to get. This helps give you a visual of what the furniture would look like. We aren’t changing the footprint of our kitchen, so the floor plan is staying the same. The trick was finding a table that was small enough to fit the small breakfast nook area we have.

 

4. Make a To-Do List

So far you have your inspiration, figured out what colors and other elements you are using, and decided on a floor plan. Now it’s time to create a list of what all needs to get done/need to shop for. If you’re painting walls, repurposing furniture, or anything new you need to buy for your refresh, list it all out.

Make sure to include everything you need to do project-wise and write down any piece of furniture or decor you need to buy, from accessories to textiles, hardware to plants, and lighting. Everything. You don’t have to buy it all right away, you just want to create a list so you have something to stick to and keep you on track from buying other random things.

 

5. Shop Shop Shop

Based on your to-do list you just created, shop for any new things you need. Obviously, you can’t run out and buy everything on your list right away, so I usually buy the things that are essential to the space first like the table, chairs, light fixture, then I'll get the decor items last.

This step takes the longest (buying process can be weeks or months) depending on how big your project is and the timeline and budget you’re working with. Finding the perfect piece within your budget is often a challenge. Things go out of stock. The perfect couch you found no longer fits with your coffee table, etc. Things happen and that’s why this step takes so long, but you want to take your time and not rush any decisions. Most importantly, make sure that every piece you bring in your space aligns with your stye and your plan from step 2, but also that you absolutely LOVE it. If you love everything in your space, you will love your results in the end.

As I shop and source furniture and decor, I like to create a mood board of everything so I can see what it all looks like together. This helps you visualize the space and decide if you need to make any changes before you start making purchases.

Here's a post on how I make simple mood boards without without Photoshop.

modern rustic kitchen design mood board

 

Kitchen Sources:

Mobile Pendant Light, Similliar Round Kitchen TableSimilar Kitchen Chairs

Remember, decorating takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. Creating your design plan upfront using these steps makes the whole process go much smoother and keeps you organized and on track. By taking these steps you will be able to create a space you love, that inspires you, and hopefully brings you a little joy in your everyday life.

 

Splurge vs Save on Home Decor - When is it Worth It?

where to splurge versus save on home decor for your house. Find out what's worth the investment and not!

Since we’re all on a budget when it comes to decorating our home, we have to think about what is really worth it to spend on and where can we save a little. You can find decor, accessories, art, and furniture for all different types of budgets, so it’s just a matter of where to put your money to get the most bang for your buck.

Just like when you’re shopping for clothes, you might find it worth it to spend a little more on a good pair denim that you'll wear a few times each week for years versus a dress that you might just wear a few times for a fun girls night out.

I broke it down sharing where I think you're better off saving your money, and where you’ll be happy you splurged a little to get something with great quality that will last for years.

 

Where to Splurge in Your Home

furniture

It’s definitely worthwhile to spend a little more on a couch that is high-quality and well-made so it will last for years. Same goes for any large pieces of furniture you use daily like your bed, kitchen table, and upholstered chairs. Because you are using these things every day, you don’t want to replace them every few years because you’ll likely spend more in the end if you buy something a little cheaper that doesn’t hold up and you have to re-purchase it more often, than if you spent the money upfront on something that will last for 10-15 years. We learned this the hard way after buying our first couch. You can read all about that story here, but basically we didn’t do our research and we ended up buying a couch that started to wear and pill after a year.

Related: How to Choose a Quality Couch & What to Look For

One of my favorite sources for a quality furniture is Article and that’s where we actually got our coach we have now that I love. All of their furniture is well-made with hardwood and quality fabrics that will last for years. I've also heard great things about Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Restoration Hardware furniture.

Just make sure you do your research and familiarize yourself with what makes a quality piece of furniture before you go shopping so you know what you are buying. Don't make the same mistake we did!

 

Window treatments

I wouldn’t even call this one a splurge because you don’t have to spend a crazy amount to find really nice window treatments. But there is a big difference between super "cheap" window treatments and quality ones. Window treatments are like accessories for an outfit. They really pack a punch and can elevate a room and make it feel finished. Bad window treatments do the opposite. They make the rest of your space look drab.

When looking for curtains, they should be long enough to hang from floor to ceiling and skim the ground. Anything short just looks off.  There are tons of options out there for materials, but West Elm and Pottery Barn have great options with nice, thick fabrics. If you get them on sale, they are pretty reasonably priced. 

Blind or shade (like we have in our living room, bedroom, and kitchen) prices depend on the material and how wide/long you need to fit your window. We have wood bamboo shades in our bedroom and living room and I absolutely love them because they offer privacy yet still filter light, which for my sun-loving self, is essential. There's nothing I hate more than rooms that are pitch dark, even during daylight!

How you hang window treatments also goes a long way in whether they look "expensive" or not. A good rule of thumb is hang window treatments above your window frame to create the illusion of bigger, taller windows. It instantly makes your room feel larger! Here's a whole post on how to properly hang curtains and shades properly

 

Rugs

Rugs can be a huge investment, depending on the size and material you need. While there are more affordable rugs out there that are just fine, (I’ve used them myself in a few rooms and they've worked ok) there’s definitely a time and a place for a high-quality rug. In my experience, I found that our living room, which is where we spend most of our time and where Bria our dog hangs out, a high-quality rug is necessary because of how much use it gets.

Our current living room rug is made of mostly wool which is really high-quality and great because it’s a natural fiber so it's easier to keep clean and stains are less likely to set compared to a cotton rug where stains are much more obvious. Our living room get so much wear and tear from us and the dog that a high-quality wool rug is worth it. Otherwise, we'd have a rug with all sorts of visible stains and need to repurchase practically every year. 

Sisal or jute rugs are really affordable, great rugs, but they show stains like crazy and you cannot get them out. We have a jute rug runner on our staircase which works out because it doesn't see near as much traffic as the living room rug does. Just be leery of using sisal or jute in places you eat or drink. 

Rugs can certainly be the main feature of your room and pull the whole space together, so it’s important it to buy the right size for your space and get something that will hold up.  

 

Statement pieces

A statement piece is just that, a piece that stands out in your room and is the main focal point. It’s usually something larger in size which also usually means that you have to pay a little more for it. A good example could be a large piece of art that fills an entire wall or a large mirror. Statement pieces are great for giving your space that wow-factor. An otherwise simple room is really amplified with a large art spanning the entire length of the wall. 

 

Where to Save in Your Home

Accent furniture

Unlike main furniture pieces that we talked about above, accent furniture such as side tables, nightstands, and console tables don't receive the wear and tear like a sofa or bed might. You can save money on accent furniture because they have a lot less strenuous use and don’t need to be as high of quality to last. When you think about your bedside table for example, you might set a cup, some jewelry and and a few books on it, but that's all the use it might see in a day. It isn't like a coffee table where you are constantly walking by setting stuff down etc. I’ve purchased accent furniture from places like IKEA, World Market, TargetCraigslist, and Amazon.

 

Accessories

Allllll the little things you use to decorate your shelves, coffee table, side table, etc. don't need to cost a lot. They're small and replaceable and you'll likely switch them out from time to time. In my opinion, it’s not really worthwhile to spend crazy $$$ on a ceramic bowl that’s going to sit there when there is a $8 bowl at Target that's just as cute. There are so many shops out there with cute decor and accessories, but a few I shop often are Target, thrift stores (you can find the most unique items!), Hobby Lobby, World Market, West ElmAnthropologie, Urban Outfitters, TJMaxx, Homegoods, and Amazon.
 

Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are another item you might switch out for the season or just for fun, because who doesn't love pillows?! Etsy has tons of cute shops that sell nice pillows and pillow covers. Target of course is always a go-to. When I'm buying pillows I usually look for ones with removable covers so they can be washed if needed. For pillow inserts, down or down alternative are super comfy and give that plush, full look. Plus, they hold the karate chop if you're into that :) Amazon has affordable options for down alternative pillow inserts here. They are seriously so much more comfortable than a poly-filled pillow!

 

What are some of your favorite pieces in your home you're glad you made the investment? Anything you wish you gotten at a higher quality? 



 

How to Create a Mood Board

how to create a mood board without Photoshop for your design plan

If you’re thinking about decorating a room in your home, you probably have lots of ideas floating around your head, and aren’t sure how to know what will look good together. Does that paint color really go with that rug and couch?

When I’m designing a room, I need to see what everything will look like together because I’m such a visual person. If the design looks off or I need to tweak something, it’s better to know ahead of time, before I actually make purchase and then get it home and decide it doesn’t look right. You can save yourself a lot of time and money, not to mention frustration, by seeing visually how everything works together with a mood board. Yay to not being a victim of design regret!

Today, I’m going to show you how to create a mood board so you can view all your ideas in one place.

Once I’ve created my design plan for whatever room it is I'm working on, I create a mood board to see all the pieces and colors together. A mood board is essentially a collage of the furniture and elements you’re incorporating in your space. You can create a mood board by using magazine clippings or printing images, or you can create a mood board digitally on the computer. I’ve used Photoshop or even just Word to make mood boards in the past, but I found an even easier way! It’s call Olioboard. It’s a free tool (has paid features but you don’t really need them) that makes putting together a mood board on the computer super simple.

Mood boards are also super handy to give others a visual of what the space will look like. Say, if you’re trying to convince the hubby that a blingy chandelier will in fact, not look “too girly” in the dining room :)

how to create a mood board without Photoshop for your design plan

Mobile ChandelierRound Kitchen TableSimilar Kitchen Chairs

Here’s my kitchen mood board for our renovation project. I just took screenshots of two different kitchens I found on Pinterest I liked to get the cabinets visual as part of the mood board. Then, I added the other elements like subway tile, butcher block counters, our wood floors, and furniture and lighting. 

 

1. How to Create a Mood Board

Go o Olioboard.com and click Join Now in the upper right hand corner to create a free account.

how to create a mood board without Photoshop for your design plan

 

 

2. Start Your Free Account

Click CREATE on the top of the page to start your blank canvas. Start by searching by category for furniture and decor to drag and drop on your canvas. You can also search for a specific item by typing in chair, for example, and a whole bunch of different chair images will pop up. On the My Items tab, you can upload images of specific furniture and decor, which is what I did. I just took screenshots of the actual table and light fixture I wanted, and uploaded them. Based on the room you’re decorating, you can even add backgrounds to look like your actual space.

 

3. Save Your Work

Periodically save your work by clicking the save button in the upper right hand of the screen. Once you’re finished, you can click Publish, to save it as a board you can always access under your Olioboard account, or you can click Download, to get a jpeg file.

 

I hope this little tutorial is helpful as you are decorating your next room! It should help you visualize the space together and plan accordingly. It really is simple and totally worth the time!

 

 

Tips to Choosing Curtains or Blinds & How to Hang Them Properly

 tips to choosing curtains or blinds and how to hang them properly
 how to choose blinds or curtains and hang them properly

Curtains and blinds are one of the biggest ways you can transform a room next to paint or a large area rug. They are hugely important to any room makeover and can instantly create softness, add drama with bold patterns, or a punch of color to really finish off your space.

But, it can be confusing to know how to choose window treatments, so I'm breaking it all down for you and sharing my tips to choosing curtains or blinds & how to hang them properly.

 

Curtains vs. Blinds

The first question when choosing window treatments is deciding between curtains, blinds, or both. While it's mostly personal preference, there are a few tips to consider based on the room you're working on.

First, let's cover the basics of each. Curtains are window coverings that are made of lightweight fabric. Drapes are typically made of heavier fabric and go all the way to the floor (I'm using curtains and drapes interchangeably here, while "technically", they are not.) Blinds on the other hand come in several varieties made from plastic, wood, or fabric and help control the amount of light let in. In general, blinds are usually cheaper and easier to keep clean than curtains and drapes, however, they are more limited in design styles. Curtains and drapes add instant style and texture to a room and the flowy fabric makes the space feel cozy. Blinds make rooms feel more open and less "crowded" with their less intrusive design.

This is actually the very reason I wanted to switch from curtains to blinds (aside from the fact that our blinds were too short and not the right color) in our bedroom. The curtains felt too crowded in our small room and I wanted a cleaner, more open look that blinds offer. See a quick snapshot of our bedroom with ill-fitting blinds below...You can see how if the curtains were hung 8 inches above the frame (if they were longer, of course) how it would make the ceilings feel taller. That's why hanging them properly is so important.

 tips to choosing blinds or curtains and how to hang them properly

When deciding between curtains or blinds,  first think about which look you like better. Do you prefer one over the other? Then, you should consider functionality of the space and whether or not you need more privacy or light control if your room faces the road or is in clear sight to your neighbors. With blinds, you can adjust the amount of light let in, while with curtains you don't have that ability – they're either open or closed. If you like the the look of blinds and want to keep the space feeling clean and open – great! But, if you want to add more style or texture to your space using curtains, but you need the privacy and light control of blinds, you can combine them and use both!

 

Using Blinds with Curtains

It's very common to use blinds with curtains to get the best of both worlds. You'll still have the functionality of blinds for privacy and light control, while adding extra style with curtains. How pretty does this look?! Notice the curtain rod is several inches above the window frame and how it creates great height.

 tips to choosing blinds or curtains and how to hang them properly

Image via Amber Interiors

I love the look of curtains with blinds, but our particular rooms in our home are a bit too small and are better off without curtains. In our living room, I initially had just white sheer curtains from Walmart that were like $5 a panel as our window coverings for about a year. While they worked great and had the airy, coastal vibe I was going for, they were sheer, so privacy was a bit of a problem since we hang out in the living room the majority of the time and our large window faces the road. I could have left the sheer panels up when we got wood blinds, but ultimately, I decided to take them down to keep the room feeling open and clean.

 

How to Pick Colors

There are tons of options out there for colors and styles of curtains and blinds, it really just comes down to what your style is and how you want your room to feel (check out this blog post if you need help figuring out your style). That's enough to cover in a whole separate blog post, but a good start is to look on Pinterest and search tons of blinds and curtain images and see what you're drawn to.

One of the most common types of blinds these days are wood blinds. They are beautiful, versatile, and functional. You all know I'm partial to wood blinds and love the warmth and texture they add to a room. We first got wood blinds in living room a couple years ago, and now we have them in our bedroom. They truly look amazing in any space and come in so many different shades and textures. The photos really don't do these blinds justice. They have more texture and look even more beautiful in person.

 tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
 tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly

I'm a sucker for lots of natural light in our home so it's important to me that we don't block out lots of light. Wood blinds are perfect for this because they naturally let light in through the woven wood, yet give enough privacy that you can't totally see in our windows at night. We do have privacy liners for our wood blinds just in case we want to completely block everything out, but we honestly never use them in our kitchen our living room.

When I was choosing blinds for our bedroom, I went with the deluxe woven wood shades in Girona Raffia from Blinds.com. They're similar in color to the blinds in our living room and fit the light and beachy style in our bedroom perfectly. They also have a white trim edging on the outside as a cute touch. We did get privacy liners for these and the liner is actually attached to the back of the blind, unlike the kitchen and living room blinds where the privacy liner is separate so we can choose to have it up or down. A little light can peer in on the either side of the blinds where there's a gap between the window frame and the blind, but I actually don't like it pitch dark at night while I sleep so this doesn't bother me at all.

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 tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
 tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly
 tips to choosing curtains and blinds and how to hang them properly

Probably my favorite feature of our new bedroom blinds is they're cordless! You just pull down on the blinds and they glide down, and then push up to open. It's so convenient to not have to mess with the cords and have them dangling, not to mention much safer if you have kids at home. I wish all of our blinds were cordless now!

 

How to Hang Curtains and Blinds Properly

The general rule of thumb when hanging curtains and blinds is "high and wide." You want to make your windows feel as tall as possible, so you usually want to hang your curtain rod or blinds at least 6 inches above the window frame. This creates the effect of nice tall windows, even if they're not. For the width when hanging curtains, you want to hang them wider than the frame, about 6-12 inches out on both sides. Again, this helps the window appear larger, but it also ensures the curtains don't block the window cutting out light when they're open because they're hanging in front of the wall, not the window.

Now, let's talk about the proper length for curtains...The worst thing you can do is make your curtains too short. It's like wearing too short pants – it makes the rest of the outfit feel off. Curtains look best when they either float an inch or so above the floor, just touch the floor, or puddle on the floor. The most common is when they just touch the floor and it's my personal preference. In order to pull off the puddle so it looks intentional and not like you just didn't feel like hemming your curtains, you should use thicker fabric that drapes nicely (not a lightweight cotton) and use it in a space where you want extra softness and femininity.

For our bedroom blinds, I chose an outside mount which means it covers the window trim and mounts outside of the window. In order to "cheat" the window up and install them 6 inches above the frame, you'll need to choose an outside mount. Our blinds were custom-made for our windows so we got the perfect fit and they look amazing! I actually didn't hang these blinds 6 inches above the frame, but if I had wanted to, I would have just added 6 inches (or however high you wanted to go) to the measurement.

Hopefully that helps! I know it seems like a lot to think about, but really it comes down to what you like best, so you really can't mess it up too badly :)

If you have any follow up questions, or have a specific question about curtains or blinds in your home, just leave a comment and I'll try to help you out.

 

4 Simple Ideas To Cozy Up Your Home For Fall

 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home inspired by Joanna Gaines

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away! It hardly seems possible.

I finally added a few new items to our living room to make it feel more cozy for fall. It's fun to switch things up as the seasons change, but I still stick to my simple decorating philosophy where less is more.

 fall-decor-1

Last year, I did a bigger fall tour and while that's pretty and all, it's just not realistic for every day decor and I want to be authentic and show you ideas that we actually use. I'm over the super styled photos that look amazing but aren't something you can replicate yourself or keep for a while without it getting in the way.

As I was preparing to take photos for today's post, all I had to do was vacuum to get rid of the dust bunnies, fluff up the pillows, and take out Bria's giant kennel that normally sits in the corner. Everything else was already in place because this is truly how our home looks day to day.

 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home
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 fall-decor-5
 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

4 Simple Ideas to Cozy Up Your Home for Fall

Faux Fur

I lovvveeee faux fur anything because it's so soft and luxe. Layering in a faux fur blanket instantly cozies up the space and makes it feel warm and inviting. My fur throw is from ATG Stores and is so cozy I love it. I mean, don't you just want to cuddle up on the couch with your favorite magazine and sip hot cocoa?

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Yummy Fall Candles

Candles are one of my favorite things next to ice cream and leather moto jackets. They instantly make me happy and put me in a good mood. I don't burn them every day, but I like to have a candle in practically every room so I can catch a whiff. I set a candle in this new glass hurricane from ATG Stores on our coffee table. Not only do I love the way it looks, but I think putting it in the glass gives off even more fragrance, too! Bath & Body Works is one of my go-to's for candles because they are affordable, burn well, and give off a ton of fragrance. One 3-wick burning candle fills our entire upstairs!

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Glowing Lights

There's something about warm glowing lights that feel fun and festive. I wasn't sure how to fill the top shelf of our built-ins until I came across these cut out lanterns. I added some string lights and voila! In the evening, the warm glow of the lights set the mood and feels so cozy. The best thing is this will work great all the way until Christmas.

 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home
 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

Magnolia Wreath

Although magnolia wreaths were made popular thanks to Joanna Gaines and the Fixer Upper craze a while ago, I'm now just realizing why they are so great! I like having wreaths for every season, but they are so expensive to buy multiples. When I was looking for a nice wreath for fall, I realized a magnolia wreath might be just what I was looking for. They are so versatile that you can dress them up differently for every season so you can use them year round! For fall, you can stick in a few feathers and add a burlap bow to your wreath. For Christmas, swap out the feathers for mini ornaments and add a red bow, and in the spring/summer just add some floral sprigs to brighten it up. So simple and pretty! Maybe I'll do a post on a few different ways to dress up a magnolia wreath...would you like to see that? I chose to keep my wreath plain for now, but I think I'll dress it up a little for Christmas.

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 fall-decor-10
 fall-decor-8
 Simple fall decor ideas to cozy up your home

These 4 simple fall ideas show you don't have to go crazy decorating for the holidays. Just a few pieces can cozy up your home without cluttering it up.

What are your favorite ways to decorate for fall? Do you have a candle you love I should check out? I'm always on the lookout for new ones!

Room Sources:

faux fur throw

Article sofa

blue stripe pillow

blue patterned pillow

white patterned pillow no longer available at Tonic Living

coffee table - Craigslist

moss inside bowl

glass hurricane

candle

silver cut out lanterns

string lights

DIY IKEA hack built-ins

plant stand

horse print - friend took photo & framed by Shutterfly

rug

magnolia wreath

DIY rustic full-length mirror

leather pouf

rope mirror - Gordmans, not available online

blue tufted chair - thrifted

stripe blanket - no longer in stock at Target

wood flooring

star pendant light

woven wood blinds

floor lamp

 

 

5 Lessons I Learned From Decorating Our First House

5 lessons learned from decorating our first house

We're creeping up on 2 years since I moved in our house (Jordon bought the house and lived in it for a about a year before I moved in, but that doesn't count because I hadn't put my touch on it yet ;)). Time flies.

I've talked a lot before about my struggle to decorate our home in the beginning.

I was used to decorating small college apartments, so the thought of having several larger rooms to tackle was exciting, yet complicated.

With it being our first home, came several other firsts. Buying our first couch, our first demo project, first time picking out paint colors, first time installing flooring...

It's safe to say we learned A LOT.

About a year ago I finally found my decorating groove and now I know what I want our home to look like and I know how to get there because I found my signature decorating style. I feel so much better overall about our home and actually love how it looks now.

I thought it'd be fun to look back on the past couple years and share what we learned/regret/wish we did differently, and all that good stuff.

And just for kicks, here is the evolution of our living room over the last 2 years...

living room transformation

Consider Warmer Paint Colors

Right when Jordon bought the house we painted every single room. I'm a lover of white and knew white walls were the way to go.

At the time, Emily Henderson was designing their new home and painted every room in their home white. I loved that she, a talented designer, chose to paint every single room white and that I was not indeed crazy for wanting every single room in my home plain old white.

However, I wish I would have considered other warmer shades of white. I chose the stark white you get right off the shelf. No mixing, just white as white gets.

It's clean and beautiful, but it can get a little cold, especially in the winter. I wish I would have chosen just a few shades warmer so it still looks white, but has some warmth. This is something we could easily change, however, I'm focusing on the next bigger project. If I absolutely hated it, I would repaint it.

Research Furniture Before You Buy

I struggled a lot with buying furniture.

Our very first purchase was the couch. We bought it after being in the house for a few days when we finally got tired of having no place to sit. I wrote an entire post on why our first couch purchase was a mistake that you can read here.

tips to choosing the right rug size

Our lack of research kicked us in the butt and the couch ended up being wayyyyy too big for our small living room and we are now on our second couch (that I absolutely love). The first couch has been moved to the basement family room so luckily we still have a use for it.

Let that be a lesson to you. Always research before you go shopping so you have an idea of what's out there and you know what you're looking for and measure three times. At least. Then, never settle if you don't see what you're looking for right away.

Live in Your Home Before Rushing to Buy New Furniture

If possible, it's best to live in your new home for a while before rushing to make all new major furniture purchases. Living in your space gives you time to figure out how you'll use it, what layout will work best, and then you can find pieces that fit. Something we did not do.

Don't Settle Just Because "It Works"

Besides the couch, I had several other furniture purchases that didn't work out. Luckily, most of them I purchased on Craigslist so it wasn't a huge deal.

I am on our third coffee table in two years. Our first was the coffee table that I had from college that was too small. Then, I found a marble top coffee table on Craigslist. I loved that it hard marble, but that was about it. It was such a good price I bought it anyway. It just didn't go with the space at all and I really didn't like it, especially the floral detail on the front. I sold that, and finally found the current coffee table we have now on Craigslist as well. This style was exactly what I was looking for and it was only $50. It's worked great for us and it's a much better size than the last 2.

marble coffee table

coffee table #2

Since our living room makeover, I plan on replacing the coffee table one last time. It's about the only thing I haven't replaced yet in the makeover. I have my eye on this one, I'm just waiting to bite the bullet.

There were a few other furniture purchases I made simply just to "fill" space. The blue credenza/bar was another super cheap Craigslist find but all it did was collect dust. We literally never used it so I sold it. Same with the IKEA wicker chair. I bought it to fill space but we never sat in it.

modern-living-room

IKEA wicker chair

About a year ago when I had an "aha" moment and finally found my decorating groove, I decided to get rid of everything we didn't use. Our home was starting to feel cluttered so I wanted to simplify and only keep things we loved and used. Now I don't buy anything unless it's on my list or I have a specific place in mind that needs it.

Basically, don't settle on something because "it works" if you don't love it. Practice patience, my friend.

It Won't Be Perfect

This was a tough one for me, at first.

We refuse to take out a loan for a home project, and we choose to DIY everything ourselves to save money. Neither of us had done any demo projects before, so it's been full of learning...mostly on Jordon's part.

The first major demo we tackled was the bathroom. It was a complete gut job. Jordon researched and taught himself how to do everything from the plumbing, to tiling, to flooring. There were many things that didn't go smoothly and we had to figure it out as we went.

When we finally finished, there were a few things that weren't perfect, but it looked a THOUSAND times better than it did before.

bathroom before
white bathroom vanity

Just remember perfect doesn't exist whether you hire it out or not. I should have told myself this before we started the bathroom so I wasn't nit-picking. I'm just grateful we don't still have butterfly wallpaper :)

We've done several other projects outside in the backyard (tear down an old shed, fix siding, take out a falling retaining wall and build a new one, rip out a concrete pad) that I haven't shared on the blog.

In 2017, we plan on tackling our last big reno, the kitchen. I am so so excited to get this done and finally have a dishwasher!

These 5 lessons are what I personally learned from decorating our first home and I hope you can learn a thing or two from my mistakes. If you are struggling to decorate like I was at first, I made this mini-series to help you feel more clear on your style and know if pieces go together. It helped me transform our home into what it is today and I think it will help you too.

Have you had a similar experience decorating? What are the biggest things you've learned from decorating your home?

Share in the comments and we can all learn from each other :)

 

Choosing Wood Flooring For Your Home

laminate vs engineered: tips to choosing wood flooring for your home

We just finished our living room makeover a couple weeks ago, and today, I'm going to share our process for choosing flooring, one of the biggest changes we made to the living room.

Let's rewind for a second.

When we moved into our home, the living room had dingy beige carpet that was at least 20 years old. It was old and gross. We lived with it for a couple years before we considered replacing it. It was always on our list of things to do, but we tackled other less costly projects first.

You can see the beige carpet (and sweet pup) below...

how we chose flooring for our home

When we started thinking about new flooring for the living room, I knew I wanted wood. It's beautiful, classic, and a great option for our new puppy because cleaning up dirty paw prints on carpet is no fun.

Our living room flows into the  kitchen and hallway, so I wanted to replace those floors with wood as well. The kitchen is an ugly vinyl and the hallway is the same carpet as the living room.

Our house is on the small side, so with the living room, kitchen, and hallway combined, we were looking at about 480 square feet.

Laminate vs. Engineered Wood

As we were looking at flooring options, we narrowed it down to either engineered wood or laminate.

Hardwood floors were out of the question because we just didn't have the budget and it felt silly to spend so much on floors when we likely won't be in the home forever and it probably wouldn't increase the home's value enough to make it worth it in the end.

Laminate is very affordable and has come so far with lots of options that look as good as hardwood. It's also incredibly durable which we need with a puppy who loves to run around and play.

On the other hand, engineered is a cost-effective alternative to hardwood while still getting real wood. Engineered wood means that it has a wood veneer on top, with a plywood core. So it still is hardwood on the top, it's just a much thinner layer than real hardwoods. This means you can refinish it if needed for minor repairs, but you couldn't sand and re-stain it completely like you could real hardwoods. Engineered wood also has more resistance to moisture than real hardwoods.

Before we decided on laminate or engineered, I wanted to get some samples and compare.

We shopped around for prices and looked at different finishes and species. I find it very difficult to shop for flooring in a store because I can't compare it to anything in our home, and you have to pay for most samples.

I started looking for flooring on BuildDirect.com and they had TONS of options plus free samples. The prices were good and there were several finishes I liked for both laminate and engineered I wanted to try, so I ordered a bunch of samples.

The samples literally arrived the next day! I was shocked they came so quick.

I ended up ordering a second round of samples just so I could see a range of many different finishes and species from light to dark, so in total I ordered 15 different samples of laminate and engineered. All for free!

Can you guess which one we picked?

how we chose flooring for our home

BuildDirect was super helpful in telling me more about the pros and cons of both laminate and engineered since I wasn't super familiar with either. Both products are super durable and will hold up to our daily use so it was just a matter of personal preference. The only downside to laminate I was worried about was warping. It does have a tendency to warp when exposed to moisture which made me a little nervous since it wold be in our kitchen, and Bria loves to make a mess of her water bowl.

Choosing A Finish

Choosing the finish was a little difficult for a couple reasons:

  1. Our trim is an orangey color I do not like, so I didn't want to choose a finish that would match the trim. There was the option to paint the trim white which ultimately I wanted, but, I wasn't sure if we would paint the trim the same time as installing the new floors. Which meant that the flooring would have to look ok with the orange trim, but not necessarily match it.
  2. We have original hardwood floors in the bedroom and office, which are right off the hallway on the same floor as the living room and kitchen (there weren't wood floors under the carpet in the living room). Again, the original hardwood floors have the orangey color to match the trim, but I didn't want to choose a finish I didn't like just for the sake of matching the original hardwoods. I questioned whether it would look weird if I chose a different finish than the original hardwoods and how that would look right next to it (the new hallway flooring will sit right next to the flooring in the office and bedroom).

I'm drawn to lighter warm woods with lots of variation between planks. I found that out when finding my decorating style (a MUST if you don't know your style). Every time I see those golden wood floors on Pinterest I get major heart eyes. Like this pin, for example! Just gorgeous.

After seeing all the samples in person, I knew the darker colors just wouldn't work. It was too far from the original hardwoods and the trim to look somewhat ok, so those were out of the question.

Then, I ruled out the super light woods because I just didn't think they worked with the space.

At this point, I still wasn't sold on laminate over engineered, and I was focusing mainly on finding a finish that I loved yet still complimented the orangey trim in our house.

I picked out my top 5 favorites and laid them out for a few days so I could look at them in several different lights. I'd lay it next to the trim for a while, then I'd lay it next to the original hardwoods in the bedroom to see how they looked together.

Jordon didn't have a big opinion and basically said he liked any of my top favorites. Some help ;)

Ultimately, I decided engineered was the way to go. The finishes were closer to what I wanted and they looked a little nicer next to the orangey trim. Engineered also made me less worried about warping if it got wet.

how-to-choose-flooring-3

We chose these Kährs Avanti white oak floors in a matte finish from builddirect.com. We got them for $3.89/sq ft.

The Installation Process

We installed the floors ourselves to save money. Since we had never done it before, Jordon did lots of research and reassured me he could do it :)

When the flooring arrived, we ripped out the old carpet and removed all the baseboard trim. We chose to install our floors with the floating technique, using underlayment underneath the floor and glue. Jordon worked on it on his days off while I was at work. It took just a few days from start to finish with lots of puppy playtime breaks. Overall, it went fairly smoothly!

how to choose hardwood flooring for your home

I LOVEEEE the new floors and couldn't be happier with our choice and how well they turned out! They are GORGEOUS and look even better in person. The finish goes perfectly with the room.

The variation from plank to plank is my favorite!

how to choose hardwood flooring for your home

Since we had to remove the baseboard trim to install the flooring, we decided to paint that trim white. We haven't painted the rest of the trim in the house yet, and the flooring still looks ok next to the original orangey trim.

I think the new flooring flows well with the original hardwood floors in the bedroom and office. I was worried how it would look, but it's even better than I expected.

I probably broke a few design "rules" doing this, but I'm ok with that. I'd rather have a flooring in our main living spaces that I actually loved.

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Swapping out the old carpet for wood floors completely updated the room. It now feels modern and so fresh. Seriously, flooring makes a huge difference!

We've had our new flooring for about a month now and we love it. It looks amazing, it's easy to clean, and it's durable. Bria runs across the floor when she plays and there isn't a single scratch. I'm hoping it stays that way after a couple years.

4 tips to decorate a living room you love + our living room reveal
how-to-choose-flooring

I hope this was helpful for you if you're considering wood flooring in your home. It's important to do your research and make sure you know your decorating style and what finish you like, but also consider durability and the room you're installing the flooring. Since our kitchen floors often get wet, we ultimately chose engineered since it's more resistant to moisture.

Do you need help finding your decorating style? My course will help you uncover it step by step.