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My Top 5 Interior Design Pet Peeves

There are several common design mistakes that I encounter that make me a little crazy.  (OK, more than a little crazy sometimes!)  Your living room doesn’t have to look like the page out of a magazine, but it should be comfortable, support your family’s lifestyle and provide a respite for that work-life balance we all seek.  So check out this list, and to remedy any of these design mistakes you may be guilty of, just call me!  I’ll help you fix it.

Furniture arrangements that resemble a doctor’s office.  Yep, probably my biggest pet peeve is when I see all the furniture pushed up against the walls.  This creates an empty, awkward space in the middle of the room which creates strained conversations because the seating pieces are too far apart.  Furniture looks best when it is floated in the room and centered on a focal point, usually a fireplace.  Creating negative space around furniture actually gives the illusion of a bigger room.  Check out the difference…


Imagine having an intimate conversation in this room…


Furniture “floated” in the center of the room provides for better conversation and makes the room feel bigger.









Art that is too small, hung too high, or poorly positioned.  Art and wall décor should “fit” the space they are intended for.  Too often I see pieces that are not the right scale and hung too high.  To be safe, the center of the painting from top to bottom should be 57” from the floor (the hook will be higher).  This is the average human eye-height and is regularly used as a standard in many galleries and museums.  Art hung over a sofa should be about 6-8” from the top of the back of the sofa.


Art that’s too small and hung too high makes the room feel unfinished.


This art is hung correctly over a sofa completes the look.









All overhead lighting.  Lighting should set the mood for a space, and the amount of light should reflect the activity at hand.  If you’re chopping vegetables with a really sharp knife, you probably want bright task lighting so you don’t mistake your finger for a carrot!  But if you’re hosting a dinner party, use indirect lighting and dimmers to set a relaxing mood.  There are so many options for lighting including lamps, pendants, undercabinet lighting and cove lighting, so why limit yourself to one overhead fixture or can lights?


Can lights only provide one type of light.


Having multiple light sources improves the flexibility of the space and adds visual interest.









Fake plants and greenery.  I think every home in America has had at least one fake ficus tree at some point, even mine.  Remember that plastic ivy over your kitchen cabinets?  Yuck!  Ditch the dust collectors and invest in LIVE plants that can actually purify the air in your home naturally.  Here are some of the most popular indoor plants.  Live foliage can “liven” up your home and add charm. 


Lose the fake ivy over the cabinets.


A dracaena is one of the easiest plants to grow indoors.








Matchy matchy furniture.  When the sofa, loveseat and chairs are all the same style, fabric and color, you’ve lost all opportunity to infuse your own personal panache.  These rooms ‘bought-in-one-day’ are boring.   Try changing things up by adding a pair of chairs upholstered in a fun color or pattern to add interest and pizzazz.  Mix in a metal side table with a wood coffee table or opt for a leather ottoman.  Adding variation to your interiors is what makes your home interesting as well as a reflection of you.


Everything is the same style/color. (Jennifer Convertibles)


A beautifully designed room with variation and interest (by Tobi Fairley).


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Top 5 Biggest Paint Color Mistakes

IMG_1601One of the design issues I am asked about most frequently is paint colors. Let’s face it; we’ve all seen some pretty bad paint jobs. You know, where people just paint right over the electrical wall plates instead of removing them, or wall paint all over the trim because no one took the time to apply painters tape.  

But what’s worse (IMO) is a wrong color choice. Everyone has seen (or made?) at least one of these mistakes choosing paint colors. My advice, or course, is for you to hire a designer (like me, for instance) to help you select the RIGHT paint color for your space. It is a small investment that will save you from second-guessing yourself and will give you peace of mind…Because everyone has made a color blunder at some point. Which one are you guilty of?
1. Choosing the paint color FIRST. You might have a general idea which paint color you’d like before you start redecorating, but it is always best to select a specific paint color LAST. You want to have all of your furnishings including rugs, furniture, artwork, window coverings and accessories selected BEFORE you decide on a paint color. It is WAY easier to match a paint color to a pillow or upholstery fabric than the other way around! So, plan your room FIRST and then select the paint color to support all of the other things going on in the space.
2. Choosing a color that is way too bright or intense. Not all those colors on that paint chip book are intended for your walls! Bright colors look great in smaller doses like accessories, lamps or art, but not as the background of your living room. Here is where the difference between a Tint, a Tone and a Shade comes in. A Tint is a color + White, a Tone is a color + Grey, and a Shade is a color + Black. Paint colors that work best in most interiors are either TONES or SHADES, in my opinion. They have a muted, muddier, less intense appearance, and will have more longevity in your space, meaning that it will take longer for you to grow tired of it!  
So what do you do if you’ve already made this mistake?
If you like the color, take that can of paint back to the paint store, and ask them to add some grey or black to “tone down” the color intensity (pun intended). And repaint. A friend did this after she painted a wall in her master bedroom bright orange, and was thrilled with the results.
If you DO want to try a bright color on your walls, it is better to do it in a smaller room. Then select neutral (white, grey, tan, black) furnishings so your wall color really stands out.
3. Making a decision based on a tiny chip. Paint chips are teeny tiny and you often are looking at them in your local paint or home improvement store which is lit
with fluorescent or high bay light fixtures. NEVER choose a paint color in the store.  Solution? Buy a few sample pots and paint a section of one wall in the room and evaluate them as light changes throughout the day. If you don’t want to “test” a color on your wall, then paint pieces of poster board or foam core and lean them up against the wall. Then see how morning or afternoon sun affects the colors, and see how they look under artificial light in the evening. This is really important when you consider you’re going to live with this color for several years.
4. Not considering your home as a whole entity. The rooms in your home should flow together so your house feels like one, cohesive unit. That’s why it is important to use colors throughout your home that relate to one another. Bright green in one room and bright

blue in another doesn’t flow well. It is better to paint with neutrals with subtle changes from room to room.   Then add pops of color with furnishings or accessories. With today’s open floor plans, it can be tricky stopping and starting colors from room to room. So it’s best to consult with a professional before making a final decision.

5. Living with a color you don’t love. If you’re disappointed with your color choice(s), it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it’s a pain to have to repaint a room once it’s already done. But paint is one of the easiest and least expensive design mistakes to correct. WAY cheaper than changing out tile that was hastily chosen for your bathroom.  So choose the right color and get going. Don’t live with it. It’s your HOME. Make it YOURS.   
When you’re ready to change your color scheme and you aren’t confident about your ability to make the right choice, just call me.  I LOVE choosing paint colors, and I’m pretty good at it.  🙂 

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My Visit to MTI Baths Factory

Blowing the dust out for our test drive

Blowing the dust out for our test drive

The MTI Alissa 5, another model we test drove.

The MTI Alissa 5, another model we test drove.

MTI Elise 5 - this is the one we chose for the client

MTI Elise 5 – this is the one we chose for the client

Two tub molds

Two tub molds

Pouring the stone mixture into a mold

Pouring the stone mixture into a mold

Fine powdered stone

Fine powdered stone

Powdery substance comes from the huge vat

Powdery substance comes from the huge vat

Today I took a client to visit the MTI bathtub factory to see how their beautiful engineered stone freestanding tubs are made, and to select one for her “new” master bath. These elegant tubs literally look like pieces of sculpture, and can be described as “art for your bath!” They start with stone powder, mix it with polymers, heat the substance, and pour into a mold. The tubs are then baked for several hours. Once they dry, they are sanded and polished into a fine matte or glossy finish, whichever is ordered by the client.  We had the chance to sit in several tubs to test them out.  Everyone at the company was so friendly and helpful, and they make an amazing product. Lead time for tubs is only about 2 weeks. We ended up selecting the Elise 5 tub in a Matte finish. It will coordinate nicely with the Carrara marble tiles we will be installing soon. Project starts in a couple weeks!  Stay tuned!

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Beth Johnson, Allied ASID


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