March 25, 2020

I really enjoyed doing my first IG LIVE with you guys – thank you for all those who attended! I’m still learning the ins and outs of IG Live and IGTV, but I’m really excited to incorporate video into my content more so let me know if you ever want to see anything specific!

It was great to kick things off with today’s general design Q&A! I’ve recapped all the questions I covered below, as well as any questions that were sent in that I didn’t have time to get to. I couldn’t figure out how to save the LIVE (need to google that as I thought it would be pretty obvious!).

Can’t wait to chat with y’all again soon!

Q: Where do you start looking for design inspiration?

A: It depends on the space that I’m designing. Sometimes I use an existing piece (like a beautiful heirloom rug or a piece of art) to dictate the rest of the design for a space, but for overall design inspiration, I find myself most inspired by restaurant and hotel design. 

Q: Tips for organizing toddler/baby things so that they don’t overtake your entire apartment?

A: Make it a point to purge items your little one doesn’t play with anymore. One thing that has helped us is putting certain toys/gifts in a bin in storage/closet and only having the toys out that are most exciting to them at the time. Then you can swap toys out at random… almost like a “capsule toy collection”. Also, if you can label bins with exactly what is in them, it helps kiddos with being able to easily put things away. For instance, we have fabric bins that each have a purpose, “music”, “trains/cars”, “arts & crafts”, etc.” and since they are sub-categorized it’s easy to know what goes in what bin. Makes clean-up easier and more fun!

Q: Would you put a rug under the bed?

A: Yes! If you have wood floors, it’s nice to soften up a bedroom with a rug. For placement, I would get fairly close to your nightstands (but not too close haha) or under the nightstands depending on the size of your rug/room. 

Q: How do I convince my wife that the most expensive option may not be the best option?

A: Hahaha! This is my favorite question, mostly because I know his wife! 🙂 I am a big fan of mixing high and low pieces. You want to invest the most money in the focal points of the space and/or the foundational items. For instance, if we are designing a master bedroom, I would invest the majority of your budget for the bed/mattress and dresser. Save on the nightstands and accent pieces. Let me also say that I’ve had quality issues with some expensive pieces before so it’s not always the best option.

Q: Our house is a Victorian and you walk right into the living room upon entering, there’s no true entryway. Do you have suggestions on ways to keep the usual clutter minimized? We are a family of four.

A: If you don’t have an entry closet, but have a wall for a piece of furniture, I’d suggest an entry console/cabinet or a bench with storage underneath and then hang hooks above. Each family member could have a basket and that’s where shoes live, etc. Send me photos and I can give specific recommendations!

After she sent the photos above, my advice changed a bit:

Depending on how much space is between the back of the sofa and the cabinet/wall on the entry wall, you could potentially add a console behind the sofa for items like keys, wallets, etc. and then get a wardrobe for the wall with the existing mid-century console so that extra coats, hats, etc. can live there vs all coats being hung up on hooks. I would also suggest baskets to slide under the wardrobe for kids’ items. One thing that has helped us is at the end of the week, everyone in our family has to put their shoes back in their closet. Haha – it helps but isn’t always perfect!

Q: How to organize the laundry room (we currently have open shelves)?

A: I love having consistent baskets that hold your laundry items or decanting them into large glass containers. One thing I’d suggest if we are looking beyond organization is changing out the shelves that are in your laundry room to something solid vs the wire shelves to help with the overall feel of the space.

Q: Tips for furnishing and decorating when your space is small. 

A: Use the height of your walls as much as you can so that you free up square footage. Make sure your furniture is multi-functional i.e. a bench that has storage for linens, a coffee table that opens up for throws/extra pillows, a bed with drawers underneath. 

Q: How many walls do you decorate? Is there a rule?

A: I wouldn’t say there’s a rule, but here’s the formula I use:

If there’s a large canvas piece of art on one wall, then on the opposite and adjacent wall I would hang a mirror or a grouping of framed art pieces. Mixing up the type of art will help you achieve balance. Also, it’s okay to have blank walls, don’t put art on every wall because you feel it has to have something on it. Think of the blank walls as negative space that help enhance the walls that DO have art.

Q: What do you suggest putting on these tall walls over the built-ins. A huge piece of art? Gallery Wall? Would love to hear what you would do!

A: First of all, how beautiful is your home?! I love your style. I could see adding two large arched, ornate mirrors as a focal point. That could be stunning! But it depends on if you need extra storage as adding shelves is another good option.

Q: Tips for toy storage in common spaces like the living room?

A: Baskets are your friend! This is what we use in our living room for Harvey – we have a little dedicated space for him and he has two baskets and a play mat. The rest of the toys are downstairs in our basement. The baskets make it easy to clean up.

Q: How do you pick the best rugs for adjacent and adjoining rooms?

A: Great question! What I typically do is mix the type of rug and pattern. So if you have a large vintage Persian rug in one space, maybe in the room that you can see from that space, you could have a simple wool rug with less pattern and color. 

Q: Sometimes I feel my furniture pieces are more masculine; how can I add a more feminine look? For instance, my rug, bed frame and dresser are more masculine, so how can I adjust without buying too much?

A: You could add decor and art that have more of a feminine feel (think: rounded edges, muted colors).  I also think this is where your bed linens and window treatments become important. Making sure you have curtains that add softness and bed linens that are muted and layered. You could also add an upholstered bench with rounded edges at the end of your bed or add an accent chair that has feminine lines. 

Q: How do you decide whether or not to paint brick? It feels so permanent but I don’t love our brick color. (photo by @brie_neil)
A: In this case, I would recommend painting the brick (maybe something white to go with your modern kitchen vibes). Your ceilings are BEAUTIFUL and the tone of the wood is conflicting with the brick. While I’m with you on the permanent feeling of painting brick, I think in this case, your ceilings want to steal the show anyway. I would suggest doing it.

Q: What is the most common design mistake?

A: The most common design mistake I see is too small or too large furniture, rugs, art, etc. 

Q: How do you decide which size rug is appropriate? 

A: It depends on the size of your room and the placement. For instance, under a dining table, you want to make sure the chairs can pull out completely and still stay on the rug. For a living room, you want to make sure all of your furniture is completely on the rug or if you can’t do that, you want to make sure at least the front of your sofa and accent furniture pieces can touch the rug to ground/anchor them. 

Q: We are renting right now in Boston and I want our house to look amazing, but I don’t want to spend too much. Do you have tricks to have a beautiful house without doing a big project?

A: Paint can do a lot for a space! I also think updating things such as lighting and cabinet hardware, that you could easily replace when you move out. Be sure to keep a consistent color scheme throughout the house as it will make the home feel larger and more cohesive. I also think focusing on the areas of the home that you love the most and spend the most time in will help. For instance, we spend most of our time in the living room/kitchen/main space so we make sure that the room is the most pulled together, comfortable, and clean.

Q: Favorite wall-mounted desk and storage options?

A: I really love this one from DWR and I am a fan of this CB2 desk and shelving. This one looks nice too! 

Q: My daughter is having a baby boy in May and she wants to paint the room a blue or green. Do you have any favorites?

A: Blues: BM Beacon Gray, BM Iceberg, Farrow & Ball Luluworth Blue (these are lighter shades of blue). For a little darker of a blue: BM Stained Glass 

Greens: Farrow & Ball Green Smoke, SW Cascade Green, SW Sage, SW Pewter Green

Tip for choosing paint colors: go to the neutral colors in the paint deck vs going directly to the greens and blues as you will find better toned down options.

Q: We have high ceilings in our home. I am confused about how I should set-up lighting? Should we do recessed cans? I’m not a big fan of too many floor lamps and would like to have a well-lit living/dining room.

A: I recommend incorporating different types of lighting – recessed cans could be nice (but I’d put them on a dimmer), then I would add a floor/table lamp(s) in the living room along with a large fixture above the dining table. I would also replace the sconces and maybe add another. You could also do a few large pendants throughout the space! 

Q: Tips for window treatments and sliding doors? We feel our curtains might be too dark.

A: I would suggest hanging your curtains higher and further out from the sliding doors. That way you can do two panels on each side so that when they are shut, they cover the entire width of the doors (if we are talking off-the-shelf curtain options vs. custom). I would also suggest selecting a lighter color and then adding the option for a liner. If you’re local, and want to do a custom treatment, I highly recommend Tyler and Sash, or if you’re not local, The Shade Store.

Q: Favorite performance fabrics (other than Perennials) for those of us with kids and pets?

A: Crypton and Revolution Performance Fabrics. A lot of retailers offer performance fabrics now!

Q: Moving to a new place and don’t know where to start with decor…

A: I would suggest starting a Pinterest board and creating a priority list. Start saving furnishings and decor that you come across that you like, then start to see the similarities between what you’re saving so you can determine a color scheme and style. I would also prioritize the areas you spend the most time and that may take a couple of months after moving in to figure out.

Q: Do I need to have a rug under my dining room table if it’s on wood floors? What’s the trend?

A: I think it depends on the room! For instance, our dining area is two steps from our living room so we have a rug where our living room set-up is, but not under our dining table. I do suggest adding a rug if you have a separate dining space as it adds a nice layer of warmth and contrast between the table and the floors.

Q: Are murphy beds comfortable/affordable? I need to use my extra room as multi-purpose.

A: You’re probably going to spend around $1500-$3500 for a decent murphy bed. There are definitely comfortable options out there – but I don’t have a specific personal recommendation, but after a quick search, this one looks like a good option!

Q: We have a carpet upstairs in our new house. Just a dark beige color that I wouldn’t have chosen but can’t afford to replace. Kids’ rooms have fun rugs but not sure if I should do this in our bedroom?

A: I think it can be nice to layer rugs on top of carpet, when it’s done well. Yes, I recommend doing this in your master if it feels you need more of a layered look.

Q: Size under a king bed?

A: Depends on the size of your room, but somewhere between 8×10 – 9×12+

Q: How long should you keep a carpet for?

A: So this depends on the material of the carpet/rug. An antique rug will last 100 years+ when it’s well made. But for wall-to-wall carpet, 10-15 years is pretty typical. 

Q: I’ve been wanting to do a career change to interior design.  What’s your advice on how to get started with all my new lovely free time…

A: Since you mentioned you’re looking to go into residential design, start taking online courses. Get familiar with the tools we use (AutoCAD, SketchUp, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.) and do as much research as possible. Then I would recommend working under another designer or in the field somehow to understand the industry a bit more! You’ve got this!!

Q: What are your go-to paint colors that aren’t white or grey?

A: I love BM Hale Navy and we just did a kitchen in SW Pewter Green – so pretty! 

Q: As a design professional, do you find it difficult to design for your own home?

A: Absolutely! There are endless options for EVERYTHING and we see how a space can really transform. But we don’t have an endless budget, so there are certain constraints. I can select bedding, for instance, all day long for clients and then when I try to select for us, it’s so challenging. It’s hard to get out of my own head.

Q: Are accent walls (painting just one wall in a room) still cool?  Your thoughts?

A: I still love an accent wall depending on the room! But there was a time when the accent wall was OVERDONE. 😉

Q: Do you think one color scheme throughout a home is best?

A: I do think it is nice to have one color scheme if your home is small and you’re looking for ways to make the space feel bigger. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s necessary!

Q: I’m looking for a new couch. You know I love West Elm but can’t afford the prices… but want their styles and large comfy size.

A: Try Wayfair! They have a large selection, so make sure to read the reviews. 

Q: Are you doing virtual consults during this wild time?

YES! Here’s a link to our virtual design services.

Q: Obsessed with minimalism.  Got any recommendations on folks who are worth reading/checking out in the field?! Need more beyond Marie Kondo!!

A: Simplify Magazine has been a really great read. It’s a quarterly digital publication and has a lot of thoughtful articles. I need to brainstorm more options!

Q: Do you do business consulting?

A: I do not, but I am happy to help if you want to send me a few questions.

Q: Are there brands for refrigerators you recommend?

A: I like our KitchenAid! GE has some great options as well. Not very well-versed on all kitchen appliances.

Q: What is the process of consulting with an interior designer?

A: When you say “consulting”, I’m assuming you mean working with a designer to decide what you’d like to change in your home but then purchasing the new pieces and implementing the changes yourself. Oh, I Design Studio does also offers full-service design work where we handle everything from the initial site visit to coordinating the installation of every piece of furniture, art, light fixture, etc. in your home. But if you choose to consult only and would like to implement the design on your own, we call that our DIY service and the process includes:

  • “Discovery Call”: We answer any initial questions and go over our process and understand your project better.
  • In-person or virtual design consultation to confirm the scope of the project and how we can be of most help. We get to know you and your family during this time and take a tour of your home.
  • “Design Direction”: We gather inspiration images, colors, and initial ideas for your project and send over a PDF to make sure we are on the same page in terms of design aesthetic and goals.
  • “Design Development”: The most important part of the project. This is where the design elements come together and we pull fabrics, tile, and other samples and source furniture, rugs, window treatments, and lighting to create your new room/home. We create a shopping list with clickable links and instructions for you to take the design and implement it on your own.
  • “Purchasing/Install”: You would take over! And we hope you send us photos!

Let me know if I missed your question or if you have another question for me, add it in the comments below! Thank you!