5 Things I almost Always Use On Every Design Project & Why You Should Too

The best part of my job is being able to create unique spaces for each client that will speak to their lifestyle and personality.

In order to make every project unique, it requires great listening and communication skills. Knowing the right questions to ask clients will uncover their style, preferences and goals for their home.

But for every project I do, there a few staple items that work almost every time. They always seem to enhance each project, and I obviously use them in different ways to work for the needs of each project.

These are the 5 things I almost always use on every design project and why you should too

  • Books

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Whether I am styling a bookshelf or a table top, I always bring books in to style a space. Books create a warm and homey feel, plus it makes you look smarter :-) (Just kidding), but books are one of those things that can tell a story about you and speak to your personality. It could be that you just like to collect them, and not necessarily an avid reader (like me), or you enjoy reading a certain genre.

Books help to finish a bookcase when combined with other objects, figurines and picture frames. You can go minimal or go for a library feel. I usually use larger hardcovers on a cocktail table, and smaller hardcovers and paperbacks in bookcases. Depending on the look I am going for, I will remove the jackets which gives the books an “antique” look

The cost of books can add up quickly, but if you are like me, you can shop estate sales, garage sales, second hand bookstores, public libraries and even deeply discounted books on Amazon

  • Orchids

 

Casa Vilora InteriorsCoffee Table Vignette In Design Studio Living Room

I believe that every room should include an element of nature. Flowers and greenery are the perfect ways to bring in some nature. Whether you choose real or faux (that absolutely must look real) orchids are a great way to go.

Orchids work with any style room – traditional, contemporary, transitional, and everything in between. I typically use white, as that works great with any color scheme. I like them taller and fuller where they almost have an “architectural” feel to the room, and add height to a vignette.

I usually go for great looking containers that will complement the look of the room

  • Pillows

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Well there are folks who don’t like pillows, but there definitely is a place for pillows in almost every design project. Just try to imagine the seating above without pillows; it just wouldn’t be the same.

Pillows help to bring in color and the perfect opportunity to mix patterns, especially in an eclectic room. They give the room a more layered feel, which makes for a more luxurious and comfortable feel

Of course there have been debates about how many pillows are appropriate for a sofa, but it depends on the style of the room. I would say that for a standard sofa you need at least three pillows, but you can do as many as six

  • Window Treatments

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Like pillows, window treatments are a great way to add color and pattern to a room. They are the perfect backdrop to the furnishings. I like to keep it classic by doing drapery panels mounted on rods, which are much more timeless than swags and jabots.

Naked windows, especially the ones without casings, are often not very attractive, so therefore window treatments always add a finishing touch. They add softness, and without them, a room can often look like it was a missed opportunity.

Even if you have an amazing view outside, you can still do fixed drapery panels in a neutral earth tone that will not obstruct your view, and will actually draw your eye to it

  • Lamps

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Lighting is very important to the finished look of a room. There needs to be various type of lighting to make a room look and feel its best – ambient, task, accent etc

Lamps are a great way to add lighting to a room for certain tasks like reading in a bedroom or living room, and serving food in a dining room.

While lamps are functional, they can also be a great accent to a room. There are lots of great shapes, finishes and materials available for lamps. The style you choose will help to define the style of the room. Keep in mind that for rooms with higher ceilings, you can go with taller lamps with bigger shades. Proportion and scale should also be taken into consideration depending on the size of the table.

So there you have it. The 5 thinks that I almost always use in each design project.

Share with us the one thing that you always decorate with in each room of your home

Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!

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Follow Us On Houzz

Hello my lovelies!

It has been a really busy summer so far here at the studio. A few recent installs and a few new projects on the horizon has my days pretty full. It has been a lot of work, but definitely a lot of fun, so today’s post will be short and sweet :-)

I took some time recently to update our Houzz profile; adding some of our new projects and deleting some old ones that were not professionally photographed.

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If you use Houzz for inspiration for decorating your home, please consider checking out our profile, and if you like what you see, why don’t you follow us.

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We would love to increase our following on Houzz, and better yet, if you have worked with us, please consider writing a review.

Please click here to access our Houzz profile.

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Thanks for visiting today. we will return to our normal blog schedule in a few days

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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12 Ways To Add Style & Personality To Your Apartment Home Without Losing Your Deposit

Home ownership can be a wonderful thing. Having a piece of the American dream is what a lot of folks work for and try to attain all their lives.

But there are many benefits to leasing versus owning a home. For many, the thought of living in an apartment home where there is less maintenance required, no property tax bills at the end of the year, less in utilities, and lots of amenities in most cases, is very appealing.

It makes even more sense to lease if due to your employment you make regular moves and relocations.

But being an apartment dweller, should not mean that you have to leave your style and personality at the door. Even with great finishes and amenities in today’s apartment homes, it is still very important to infuse personal style and personality and make it your own. Where you live should represent your lifestyle and taste. When you are surrounded by the things you love, and the things that tell a story about your life, it automatically creates a great atmosphere, mood and a feeling of well-being.

There are many inexpensive but stylish things that you can do to add style and personality to your apartment home without losing your deposit.

  • Paint an accent wall – I know, I know, most apartments do not allow major painting to their units. I think they are more concerned with having to repaint a whole unit in the event that you move out. With proper permissions, they may allow painting an accent wall as long as you repaint it the original color if you move out. Since an accent wall is a small area, it will not cost a lot, but will make a big impact. Be very selective about what wall you chose to paint an accent color, and choose color carefully. Any paint technique can be used for a big focal point – stripes, stenciling, or faux finish. Pinterest is a great resource to view examples of beautifully painted interiors

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  • Buy Furniture That Is The Right Scale – This is one area where most folks make a big mistake; not buying the right size furniture for their apartment homes. Apartments are typically smaller than a standard residential home, so regular furniture available in most big box stores are often over-scaled for an apartment. Start with creating a floor plan drawn to scale to figure out the right sized pieces to purchase. Many furniture companies have free drawing software on their websites that are very user-friendly (Icovia.com is a great resource for this). Next, search for apartment sized furniture – there are upholstery pieces designed specifically for apartment homes. Don’t be sucked into the standard belief that you have to purchase a set of furniture. Mix and match pieces for a more eclectic and collected feel

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  • Maximize Storage – Every possible area should be looked at as potential storage. A smaller space means that it will easily get cluttered if things are not put away. The less clutter, the more comfortable and relaxed you will feel in your home. Be very selective about what you bring in and how you arrange things. Go vertical as much as possible – bring in shelves and bookcases in place of some tables or nightstands. Utilize areas like underneath beds and even upholstery to store away seasonal items. Display your collections instead of storing them away inside of cabinets. This frees up space for things that need to be tucked into drawers and cabinets
  • Add Color Through Window Treatments – Putting holes in walls is probably a big no no, and you definitely need holes to hang window treatments, right? Well, there is a way around that. You can use Command adhesive hooks to hang window treatments where there are no holes needed, and no damage to the walls. A few things to keep in mind: Use the heavy duty sizes; install one every 24″ or so; make sure your curtains are light weight like semi-sheers; make sure they are decorative and do not require constantly opening and closing for privacy. Go for a great colorful fabric that will add some color and personality to the walls. Install them high above the windows to create the illusion of taller ceilings
  • Add Color Through Area Rugs – Even if there is carpet on the floor, an area rug is a great way to add color and personality. It helps to define a conversation grouping and anchor furniture pieces. It is also a great way to preserve the carpet in high traffic areas. Be sure that the rug is the right size. Every furniture piece in the grouping should touch the rug; at least the front legs on upholstered pieces. An 8×10 or 8×11 usually works well
  • Make Your Décor Social – The more you use your apartment for socializing, the more likely you are to feel at home. Decorate your apartment with entertaining and socializing in mind. Create a bar area complete with a bar cart as in the first picture above. Bring in lots of extra seating like stools and ottomans that can easily be placed underneath a console table when not in use. Utilize balconies and other outdoor spaces as part of your apartment – indoor/outdoor living opens up your apartment and make it feel bigger

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  • Bring In Nature – Flowers and greenery help the air quality in your apartment home. They definitely make things a bit more lively, and brings you a bit closer to nature when you are not able to get outside. Add easy to maintain plants like snake plants, fiddle leaf figs, or bird of paradise. A taller plant adds a bit more drama. Adding some up-lights at the base of the plant will cast great shadows on the ceiling at night

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  • Create A Luxury Retreat In Your Bedroom Suite – There is nothing better than having a spa day where you are pampered for hours. Why not bring that same feeling home? Purchase the most luxurious bedding you can afford; bring in scented candles in the bedroom and bathroom (always attend to lit candles); utilize bath salts and have a good soak in the tub every once in a while
  • Capture The Senses – Utilize home fragrances in your home to stimulate the senses. Not only is it important to have a visually pleasing home, it also makes it much more comfortable if it smells fresh at all times – especially if you have pets
  • Take Cues from The Model Apartments – Most apartment complexes have model units as a marketing tool. These units are professionally decorated and a lot of thought is  put into the pieces that are selected and how they are displayed. Visiting these units and borrowing some of the ideas is a great resource for decorating your apartment. They will give you ideas of how you can arrange furniture; what size furniture you should use and how to style table tops and other surfaces. Be sure to take a camera along with you to take photographs that you can refer back to later. Bringing along a tape measure and note pad is also a great idea. Measure larger key pieces and the distance between them in a grouping. That will act as a great guide for the size furniture you should buy.Observe the way they are styled – take notice of how the different vignettes are arranged
  • Find Creative Ways To Display Art -Hanging art also means holes in the walls, but there are ways you can limit the number of holes you put into walls for hanging your art work. You can use floor screens in place of art in some areas; use Command hanging strips; use large easels; and lean art against walls as much as possible

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  • Use The Services Of An Interior Designer – People often think hiring an Interior Designer is an expensive undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Having a Designer come in just to give you some guidance, direction and a plan is worth the small investment. Most Designers will work on an hourly basis to help you with a floor plan and furniture layout, ideas for furniture pieces, color palette and most importantly, what mistakes to avoid

So if you are currently living in an apartment and think that you are stuck with the basics, think again. You can definitely create a home that represents your lifestyle and taste, and be happy in your home for years to come

If you are an apartment dweller, comment on how your home reflect your style and personality

Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!

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Another Great Volunteer Project With The Houston Furniture Bank DIVAS

With each project that I have done with the Houston Furniture Bank D.I.V.A.S., I am always amazed by how beautifully we are able to transform these once sterile spaces using all donated furniture, into cozy and beautiful homes for deserving individuals and families

The D.I.V.A.S. (Decorating Interiors – Volunteers At Your Service) is the volunteer arm of the Houston Furniture Bank, whose mission is to turn empty houses into homes for families in need who have been nominated
by their caseworkers. These caring volunteers create home-makeovers from
house-hold furnishings which have been donated to Houston Furniture Bank. You can read more about the DIVAS here

A Handful of DIVAS after the makeovers

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to work with this great organization again, where we transformed several bedrooms, a multi-purpose room and the breakroom/kitchen for the Star of Hope in Houston.

The Star of Hope is a Christ-centered community dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless men, women and their children. Positive life changes are encouraged through structured programs which focus on spiritual growth, education, employment, life management and recovery from substance abuse. They are funded through public and private donations, the United Way, churches, civic/community groups, corporations, grants and foundations. In addition, they are assisted by more than 7,300 volunteers.

This particular building that we worked on is the transitional living center for women 18-23 years old. Their New Life Program is for their young expectant moms, and their Genesis Program is for those who have aged out of foster care and have now found themselves homeless.

Our day started around 9:00am as a flurry of DIVAS (and DIVOS :-) ) embarked on the Star of Hope to begin our makeovers of 7 bedrooms/apartments, the multi-purpose room (classroom and lounge) and the kitchen.

I was assigned the multi-purpose room with my partner Rayna Kelley (a fellow designer), and two helpers – Esther and Betty.

The multipurpose room is a large 27×17 room that they use as a classroom. The room was quite sterile but had a wall of bookshelves that were are great starting point. The room also had a teacher’s desk, 3 large tables and several stacking chairs. They wanted to be able use the room not just as a classroom, but as a lounge area for the girls to enjoy some down time outside of their rooms. I was excited about the large windows and the beautiful natural light that comes pouring into the room. However, the existing mini blinds were unattractive and needed to be softened up just a bit

Although the makeover takes about 6 hours in one day to go from blah to WOW, a lot of behind the scenes planning happens weeks in advance. This includes an initial site visit to the makeover location to measure and assess the needs of the space, planning on paper (floor plans, furniture layout), visits to the Houston Furniture Bank to source donated furniture items, visits to the DIVAS storage located at the home of the founder Ann Cummins to source small accessories and soft goods, soliciting donations from our individual circles of friends, family and clients, shopping for items to furnish our space, and DIY projects and crafts to personalize the rooms.

Several hours of volunteer time goes into each project we do, and I am sure I speak for every single one of our volunteers when I state that it is a joy to be able to do this for these individuals and organizations. The look on the faces of the recipients always makes it so well worth all the hard work and effort. It never gets old! :-)

Here’s my crew for the multipurpose room

Betty, Esther, Rayna, Veronica

Betty, Esther, Rayna, Veronica

Here’s where the multi-purpose room began

BEFORE

BEFORE

 

BEFORE

BEFORE

Here we are in action………….

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Yes, we are literally drying the paint with a hair dryer. Lol

Lots of frames to fill, so Rayna, Betty and Esther wrote positive quotes to encourage the young ladies

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My partner Rayna and I discussed the layout for the room weeks before, and she did a great job picking out the furniture for the room from what was available at the Houston Furniture Bank.

While the girls worked on the art and frames for the room, I was busy putting the room layouts together and adding the finishing touches

Take a look at the finished lounge area.

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The red leather sectional was a bit concerning to us, because we never got the chance to measure, as it was stacked in storage with no previous access to it. We never actually saw it in person until installation day. That is scary to a designer! Especially a big red sectional! But as DIVA magic would have it, it fit the room perfectly!

The 2 chevron chairs were picked out by Rayna and we did not have to do a thing to them.

The cocktail ottoman was soiled and kind of gross, and we had it recovered by another DIVA (Ann Shaw) who is the Coordinator for all our projects and activities.

The end table was also from the Houston Furniture Bank, and the accessories and pillows came from my home and some from the DIVAS storage.

We were able to use some soft sheers from DIVAS storage to soften the windows a bit. They were the wrong lengths, but we cleverly disguised that flaw behind the sectional 😉

The art was actually old beat up landscapes that Rayna and our helpers took apart, painted over the existing print with interior latex paint for the great looking abstract art you see now. The frames were actually horizontally oriented and we changed the hanging hardware on the back to hang vertically.

Here is another look at the lounge side of the room

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Here is the classroom area AFTER

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I had fun styling the bookshelves, but we did not have much to use, so I had to get creative and make sure every shelf had a small vignette. Most of the books came from my collection and most of the accessories came from the DIVA storage unit

Here is another view

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We worked really hard on the room and I just love the results.

The big reveal was great! Due to security reasons, only one young lady came in to see the reveal for our space because there was media coverage and cameras. Yes, we were on TV and in the newspaper! Check out some of the media coverage

Here is the news coverage on CW39 NewsFix

Click here to see the article and video in the Houston Chronicle

Click here to see the CW39 NewsFix picture gallery

Although we were all really tired at the end of the day, we went to each room as they were revealed to the residents. There were tears – happy tears, pride and excitement! the young women were so grateful and happy to see their new spaces. What was once sterile and institutional now has personality, beauty and function.

I am looking forward to the next project coming up soon!

Click here, here, and here to see some of the other collaborations with the Houston Furniture Bank DIVAS

Check out my Facebook page and Instagram to see more. You can also check out and like the DIVAS Facebook page

Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!

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