The Perfect Paint Colors

Perfect Paint Colors – It’s what everyone dreams of living with. And usually every one’s nightmare to pick.

But it’s not your fault!

Here’s why:

88% of all wall paint colors are neutrals, (gray, white, beige, greige/taupe)
Almost all have multiple “undertones”, (other colors showing through)
Neutral undertones are almost invisible in light to medium shades
They are wrongly paired with conflicting undertones.
(i.e. White cabinets don’t look right with greige wall, don’t look right with white doors/ trim, don’t look right with the countertop. Or the great room walls don’t look right with the sectional , the flooring, and the kitchen.)

That’s where a certified color expert comes in. They not only have the training and the eye to discern the undertones… they have the visual tools to help make the right paint colors obvious to you.

If little paint chips, swatches of color next to existing walls colors were the way to reveal the right paint color to reflect your style, color experts would do it that way too. Instead, they use more reliable ways to get to your right color.

It doesn’t cost any more to paint the right color than the wrong color. It’s just faster and easier getting there and when you have color expert recommendations to guide you.

FREE PAINT CONSULTATIONS! (with a “Certified Color Expert”)
Afraid of picking the wrong colors? Now you can skip the mistakes, and get the perfect colors to reflect your style with my in-home paint consultation! No more guesswork.

Your consultation is FREE with paint purchase.  Just ask these participating Benjamin Paint locations for details:

EDMONDS: Edmonds Hardware & Paint, 425-967-5352

FREMONT: Home Builders Center, 206-283-6060

LAKE CITY: Tweedy & Popp Hardware, 206-363-1246

WALLINGFORD: Tweedy & Popp Hardware, 206 632-2290

Major Appliances – The Right Refrigerator

The truth is, all major appliance brands offer nearly identical refrigerators. The new models you’ll see today are far more energy efficient than those produced even five years ago, and repairs are only as difficult as finding the nearest technician. So, how do you choose what’s right for you? First, you’ll need to measure your space, then figure out the refrigerator style and size best for your lifestyle. Don’t worry — we’ll show you how.

How to find the right refrigerator for you

Measure your space

Fridges vary by height, width, and depth, and it’s important to know exactly what size you need to be looking for. Too large, and you risk not being able to fit your new fridge through the kitchen door, let alone fit it inside your kitchen. Too small, and it might look out of place.

Depending on the amount of space available, you might find that certain types of refrigerators won’t work for your space. If you are working with a small space, your most likely option will be a top freezer. If there is only a narrow gap between your refrigerator and your kitchen island, however, a refrigerator with two doors will make it easier to reach in and grab the carton of milk without hitting the door on the cabinetry.

Consider your ideal depth size

After height and width, the most important measurement you’ll need to note is depth. Most fridges are not counter-depth; most counters are 26 inches or shallower, while most fridges stick out at least two or three inches beyond that. If you prefer your fridge to blend in with your counters, look for counter-depth refrigerators. These typically have less space to hold food, but won’t stand out from the rest of your kitchen.

Determine your refrigerator type

After factoring in physical constraints, choose your fridge based on the features that are most important to you.

  • Top freezers are the most economical refrigerators, but don’t look particularly fancy, and usually don’t come with ice or water dispensers in the door.
  • French door refrigerators look like they belong in Martha Stewart’s kitchen, and typically have nicer glass shelving options and drawers. That said, they tend to be among the most expensive of the refrigerators.
  • Bottom freezers look fairly attractive, typically coming in stainless steel finishes, and are user friendly. By tucking away frozen foods at the bottom, they keep your everyday food at eye and hand level. This can make it more difficult to dig up your frozen peas, however, though some models come with freezer baskets to help organize the space.
  • Side-by-side refrigerators usually take up more space in your kitchen than other styles, in exchange for giving you more freezer space than with any other type of refrigerator. The freezer space tends to be slightly narrow, making it difficult to fit in large pizza boxes.

Choose the right size

When it comes to refrigerators, bigger is not always better. Your ideal fridge size depends first on your available kitchen space, and second on your household size and cooking preferences.

In general, you should estimate between four and six cubic feet of storage for every adult in your home, or around 20 cubic feet if you have a family of four. If your family makes a lot of home-cooked meals, or keeps a large stockpile of frozen or fresh food, you err on the size of larger, rather than figure out where to house a second freezer later on.

Locate your nearest repair center

One of the most important aspects of purchasing a major appliance is determining where you can repair it. We hope that our fridges will run smoothly for at least ten years without repair; however, if your fridge won’t stay cold or your circuit breaker trips frequently, having a repair shop handy can be the difference between $130 service call and replacing your fridge entirely. Most manufacturers have refrigerator service centers across the country, and each company maintains a search page to help you find the one closest to you.

You’ll want to especially keep an eye out if you’re looking at either a LG or a Samsung refrigerator. These brands started in South Korea, which means that they have been slower to set up service centers nationally in the states, and many repair technicians will refuse to work on them if they lack the expertise.

Now that you’re prepared for a new appliance, you can check out even more research into specific models in a comprehensive report put together by

Decorating an Open Floor Plan? (6 Ways to make it great!)

I love how open floor plans can create that feeling of space and for make it easy  to be together. But are you finding it challenging to decorate that open floor plan to make it coordinated and inviting?

Then use my favorite ways to beautifully decorating rooms without walls!


The best designed spaces always start with functionality first. So decide what smaller, functional spaces you need within the larger space. And then how much floor space do you want to allocate to them.

For instance, do you need a mini office worked in like the room above? Or need a potted plant garden area by a window? Or maybe you only want one dining area at the island and no kitchen table so you can have a larger seating area?

Let your lifestyle lead your decorating plans!



Choose two or three favorite neutrals or colors as accents and one main neutral to use throughout. Your neutral will create the overall backdrop pulling the rooms together, like this pale gray wall color does. The darker accent neutrals (black and brown furnishings and accessories and the medium gray countertop), catch the eye leading it through each zone.  The overall effect makes for a coordinated looking open flor plan.

Get creative with your accents and show them off in your trim, artwork, accessories, fabrics, and area rugs. And even on an accent wall like around the fireplace or on a back wall for open shelving and bookcases.

Keep in mind too that this is a big space to decorate so it can take a little bolder color use than a single, smaller  room can.



3. ARRANGEMENT SYMMETRYAny easy way to arrange an open floor plan is to use major furnishings to create a balanced look.  So think symmetry and pairs. Like centering your dining table with the island on one side and the sofa (or pair of facing sofas) on the other. They are all centered in a  line as you look through the room. You can then bring variety in the smaller pieces like accent tables, artwork and accessories.



This will be a major anchor in your open living room floor plan by grounding and defining the main conversation area. It will turn a seemingly cavernous space into a warmer, cozy place you’ll enjoy living in.  Plus, it will just naturally will guide foot traffic.


-Good Housekeeping

If a totally open concept plan is, well, too open for you, try creating visual dividers with furnishings to create more defined spaces: A console with table lamps behind a sofa or sectional. Or open shelving/bookcase pieces like these above will do the same thing.


-Witt Construction

Your seating area can have a chandelier, lamps, plant up-lights, and an accent light on a big piece of art to brighten it up. And when the overhead lighting is dimmed or turned off the lamp lighting creates individual cozy areas to enjoy.

These ideas on decorating your open floor plan can turn it into a great space you’ll love living in!

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.


6 Ways to Make Rooms Look Bigger, (without knocking out walls!)

Here are 6 ways to open up your rooms without renovating. Since most people want their rooms to look bigger (especially with the trend toward knocking out walls to open them up), you might be thinking you will either have to “go for it”, or just settle.  Well, I’m here to say “No way… to both options!” You can absolutely transform your space while leaving the walls right where they are.  It’s simply a matter of decorating in a way that will create the illusion of space. Let’s get started…

Brad Dunning mid century interior design

 1. REPLACE BULKY DECOR with Modern.
By going from bulky styles to the new look of sleeker modern styles you will not only update your room but get more space in the process. For instance, you can have just as much seating space on a sofa that takes up 12 inches less floor space in overall length and 5 inches less in depth because of the narrower modern arms and back. Also modern furniture with open legs that show more floor will make the space more open and airy.

Image result for gray furniture in gray room

2. PAINT YOUR WALLS to Match Your Big Furnishings.
When you blend the color of the wall(s) with the color of your bigger furnishings they won’t break up the space with a big color block change and in the process make the room seem bigger. You then add interest in the details like pillows, candles, flowers, patterns and even textures like this shiny table top.

open up rooms decor– Sarah Jefferies, Designer

3. REARRANGE Your Furniture.
By keeping the entrance into your room as wide open as possible your space will feel more open. So put your largest seating against the wall and smaller pieces where you walk in.

Image result for oversized mirrors interiors

4. Add a Mirror
Even though we knows mirrors are an illusion of space… it still works! And since large decorative mirrors are in, go big. I mean even “over-sized” BIG. And if you can reflect a window so much the better. Because looking beyond the room borrows visual space from the out-of-doors. And the added light will open up the room too.

5. SIMPLIFY Your Room
“Less is more” is not only popular right now, it is a perfect way to create the feeling of more space. Eliminate things that are fillers. Be purposeful in each item you bring into your room. Just keep your favorites.

Brad Dunning mid century interior design
-Brad Dunning, Designer

6. AREA RUG Illusions
Use a small rug to let as much of the flooring as possible be seen. Use a rug similar to the floor color so it won’t visually break up the space with a big color change. Or use no rug at all to make it feel even more open.  The idea is to see as large an area of the flooring  as you can because it will make the space appear bigger, open and airy.

I hope this has you inspired with all the possibilities there are in updating your rooms for that open, airy look just by how you decorate. I love that it is easier, faster and way less messy.

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.





Window Treatment Ideas, (How to choose the best one!)

Window treatment are so immediately visible in a room that updating them is a great way to transform your space. But knowing how to choose the best window treatment can be a little daunting. Especially since they are an investment in your home you will likely live with through several changes of furnishings.

A common mistake is to start by choosing the style first, but then you run the risk of falling in love with something that doesn’t meet your needs. So it’s better to decide which type of product (or combination of), will give you the privacy and sunlight control you want. Then look at the styles that offer that.

This overview is designed to show you what the different types have to offer so you can explore your best options for functionality and style.

Shades are made of materials on a continuous roll and fit into a window and stack neatly at the top or bottom depending on the style. Shades are drawn up and down by cords or rolled up with a spring device. You can choose different levels of opacity for light preference. The three most popular styles are:

4b61064e02409ef7_7712-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design (1) -Design 1
CELLULAR SHADES: These are a great solution for bathrooms because of the privacy they can give with the top-down/bottom-up feature. You can see out and let daylight in while still being able to move around the room in privacy. An added bonus is their honeycomb design has a thermal effect of keeping cold out and heat in.

e6d117e003072e0d_6313-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design (1) -Renew Properties
WOVEN WOODS SHADES: Unlined styles give filtered light during the day when closed but are not completely private at night. Lined styles gives less light during the day but are more private a night. They are one of the few treatments that have a self valance feature. They work equally well on standard doors and windows for a matched effect.

39517204055ca1f3_9039-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design– Amoroso Design
ROMAN SHADES:  When lowered they give light control, privacy and even some temperature control when lined with  insulating fabric. When raised they give the look of a decorative fabric valance which few window treatment do.

c381930d0076656c_6319-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design – Cippananda Interior Design
BLINDS: Are made of slats or vanes that drop down as it is lowered or can be pulled across a window. The slats stay closed tightly for privacy and light control, but can also be adjusted to let light in. They are suited for room darkening but not a blackout effect.

5f31f1cb0ed67fd5_1614-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design – Chloe Warren, Designer
DRAPERIES: Are fabric panels to the floor. They can be stationary and not close, or be drawn over the window. First floor bedrooms especially need both daylight and privacy and there are such beautiful solutions for that. Even when the drapery like the above is closed for privacy during the day it still lets light in. This style window treatment has two options for installing the track, either on the wall or the ceiling..

49f1fc580d2a7646_1625-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design – Amy Lambert Lee, Designer
BLACKOUT CURTAINS: The most common need for these are east-facing bedrooms, nurseries and media rooms. A blackout lining can be added to any drapery fabric and will darken the room. But for more of a blackout effect, install floor-to-ceiling drapes with blackout lining that extend 18 inches past each side of the window.

9ad1552303f26f8f_8045-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design -A B Associates
SHUTTERS: These allow you to control privacy and direct sunlight when over the window. If you have enough wall space to swing them open you can also have them off the window completely.  If they are opened by folding back within the window they will extend out from the frame and window sill the depth of the shutter panel.  They will give complete privacy when closed but will not block all the light.

0911b40d0047d048_1225-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-design-Bridgewater Consulting Group
LAYERED TREATMENT: Cellular shades combine well with stationery fabric side panels in master bedrooms, and living and dining rooms. Disappearing almost completly during the day because of their narrow stack at the top when pulled up and then closing at night to give privacy. In this bedroom a Roman shade is paired with draperies for a different look that lets the stack of the shade form a valance.

In media or TV rooms blackout shades are usually a must. By adding drapery panels you will be doubly sure the room is “movie theater dark”. Combined window treatments, because of the added fabric, will also give you better acoustics.

Now that you are armed with this information on the capabilities of the different treatment options, it will be much easier to choose the best window treatment for your home!

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.

How to Choose the Right Wood Floor Color (9 Designer tips!)

Choosing the right color for your wood floor is a big decision. You want to love the look of the floor itself but the bigger goal is to love the whole effect that it will create in your rooms and your home.

Start by deciding what overall style do you want in your home? Do you like strong colors, white and light rooms, bold contrasts or soft neutrals? Once you have a vision for that, it’s a lot easier to start seeing the kind of flooring that will fit your look.

Here are some well-designed rooms with hardwood floor and why they work so you can see how to make a good choice for your home.

5b87232a97daf52e4354a9805842363dWHY IT WORKS: The flooring color is reflected in the wall and backplash color. It provides a deeper base color to ground the white cabinets in the room, It is the darkest color in the room but is just a medium, muted shade so the room still feels calm and soft and airy. Love how the planks are set at an angle.

101945457.jpg.rendition.largest.550WHY IT WORKS: This kitchen, with its very dark floor, sets up a dramatic contrast to the modern white cabinets. It’s all about creating design impact in small space. Very Clever.

7-Studio-GYZA-Vilnius-House-Photo-Antanas-Minkevicius-and-Gzegozas-Volkovskis-870x579WHY IT WORKS: This sitting area is surrounded with such interesting architecture that the floor just needs to complement it and provide a base for it to sit on without overtly grabbing the attention. Perfect harmony.

25-Stunning-Living-Rooms-With-Hardwood-Floors-7WHY IT WORKS: This room is rescued from being stuffy by this eye-catching multi-colored floor choice. But notice how the gray cast to it ties in perfectly with the gray and taupe tones in the room. Seemingly a marriage of opposites but the color connection is what makes it work.


WHY IT WORKS:  Architecturally there is nothing in the room the color of the floor but having one main piece of furniture reflect a similar version of it is enough to do the trick.  Very effective.

39517204055ca1f3_9039-w250-h250-b0-p0--home-designWHY IT WORKS: The warm toned floor warms up an all gray room. It is kept light so as not to intrude too much in the gray color scheme. And then the artwork frames pick-up on the floor color. It just a detail but it makes all the difference in letting this floor color work in this space.

LivingRoomsUpdate8_EL_13apr12_pr_bWHY IT WORKS: This floor is such a perfect backdrop it almost disappears as our attention is allowed to be drawn to each purposefully selected item in the room. It is kin to the soft wall color so it has a reason to belong in the room. Love it.

living-room-apr27-172017-04-27-at-12.46.49-PM-5WHY IT WORKS: A great way to decorate the ceiling in  tall room is to reflect the flooring. (It looks different in the photo but it is likely the effect of additional lighting from the windows on the floor.)  Cozy-up what could have become a slightly cavernous space.

GrahamandGreen1_EL_12apr12_pr_bWHY IT WORKS: What could have been a flat white room has real personality with the dark, rich floor setting off the (almost) all white decor.  And then bringing it all together with tabletop wood color and the chandelier. Perfection.

One last design tip or two…  bring the flooring samples home to test them in your lighting. Do it during the day and at night. And check the flooring with anything that is staying like fireplaces, wall color, cabinets as well as other flooring it will meet up with.

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.



13 Downsizing Designer Tips, (How to love your next home as much as your last!)

These 13 downsizing designer tips will let you love your next home as much as your last. So if you’re an empty-nesters, or semi or newly retired you don’t have to give up the quality and designer touches you’re used to in order to downsize into a simpler home! 

AND none of these tips require major renovations like moving walls. But instead they are all designed to transform your home by updating and upgrading the finishes and fixtures like paint, flooring, window treatment and light fixtures.

Even your kitchen and bathrooms can be transformed this way by painting, re-facing or replacing cabinets, and replacing countertop, tile, sinks, etc, while keeping the layout.

Downsizing done right will give you the designer looks you love, and without the mess, cost and time of a major renovation.

sw-img-diy-reasoned-hdr-Sherwin Williams
– Keep the Walls Light
Light walls (neutral or pastels) will automatically make your rooms feel bigger.

– Paint the Same Color Throughout
Have one fabulous wall color flows from room to room without a color change to break up the spaces and making them look smaller. (The above is a gorgeous neutral that just keeps flowing from small space to small space all the while making them all look larger!)
– Similar Flooring Throughout
Flooring that is the same, or similar in color will make your floor space seem larger by not breaking it up with color changes. (This small kitchen looks so much bigger because visually there’s so much “borrowed” flooring from adjoining areas.)

22069685_671962426341553_809436915357974528_n-Sophia Paterson Interiors
– Keep It Similar to the Wall Color
Window treatment that is similar to the wall color will make the wall look bigger by not breaking it up with a color change. (I also like how this treatment goes almost to the corner so it doesn’t break up the wall space into part drapery part wall. )

– Hang Them High 
If you want your ceilings to feel higher hang your draperies at the top of the wall like this room.

101932137.jpg.rendition.largest-Better Homes & Gardens
–  An Instant Improvement
Light fixtures are so noticeable that updating them will add an immediate designer touch to your spaces. (One reason they have become such a popular design element for any room.)

– Adequate Lighting
When your spaces are well-lite, they will not only look bigger but they will feel cheerier.

– Add Dimmer Switches & 3-Way Bulbs
The multiple light levels dimmer switches and 3-Way lamps will give your spaces means you can vary the mood as well as the light for different activities. Dimming for watching TV and conversation or brighter for reading and hobbies.

Maximize your space to make it seem bigger than it is just by decorating!

small-bathroom-vanity-Jenna Sue Design Co.
Use a light neutral and/or pastel color scheme for the major surfaces (walls, ceiling, flooring) and for the large furniture or cabinets and vanities.  You can then accent with:

COLOR:         Accessories. art work, plant and flowers.
TEXTURES:   Fluffy towels, woven baskets in bathrooms. In other rooms consider faux fur pillows or rugs, nubby woven ottomans, velvet fabrics or tall sticks in a floor vase.
FINISHES:    Matte or shiny metals, and mirrors, glass, various wood finishes, and glazed or unglazed pottery.

1400973388436-Jen Bekman, 20×200 online art shop
Group your art or framed pieces together. They will not only look better but they won’t break-up the wall space by being scattered around the room.
Even though we know a mirror create the illusion of space, it still works! (In modern spaces I like over-sized, decorative mirrors with narrow frames, so there’s lots of mirror with little frame to distract from the illusion.)

Small Living Room Design Ideas 2017 2-Hilma Liederbach
The more floor space you can see the bigger your room will look so “Leggy” furniture is perfect for this effect.

sherwin-williams-alabaster-1512676692-Michael Aiduss
You can decorate with different kinds of wood furnishings but if you make them all the same color they won’t break up the room with color changes. (Plus you’ll get a more “pulled together” looking space.)

gallery-1464892326-interior-designers-waldo-fernandez-and-tommy-clements-Waldo Fernandez  & Tommy Clements
Use pairs wherever you can: lamps, chairs, art, side tables, bedside tables. Your room will feel bigger with coordinated pieces. (The two sets of paired chairs above balance a space with a number of individual pieces.)

54c144e41667d_-_07-keri-russell-bedroom-lgn#11 AREA RUGS
Keep your area rugs small because the more the floor space you see the bigger your room will look. And make them similar in color to the flooring so they won’t break up the flooring with a color change. (It may be small but this rug adds so much to this bedroom… texture, comfort and luxury!)

1508423868420-Blackband Design
Use furnishings that will also give you covered storage any opportunity you get:  Bedside tables, side tables, entry and dining consoles. (I especially like this one as it gives lots of storage but has legs so we see more floor space!)

c64fe6ffb611c99b9cf12a8b4d75e36a-Marie Flanigan Interiors

The less little things you see in your spaces the more open, airy and bigger your rooms will feel. Likewise, any non-essential “chotchkes” that aren’t your best pieces (that you would use or enjoy the most) are better edited out. (I like this room because the best pieces all stand out: dining room furnishings, chandelier and art work; without a lot of small things vying for the attention.)

Keep these 13 “downsizing designer tips” in mind and you’ll have the home everyone loves… including you!  Read More

How to Update Your Lighting (Like a pro!)

lighting-Kriste Micheline Interiors

Updating your light fixtures will have an immediate design impact on your space because they are so noticeable. It is a design touch that is well worth the investment, and with such a wide range of price points, there is something for everyone.

And with chandeliers being so popular, the right one will be the jewel in the room (like above) and absolutely make it. It’s what will get noticed and remembered by guests and enjoyed by you everyday.

Jonathan-Adler-Living-Room-58c44b7c5f9b58af5c6b2044                                                                 -Jonathan Adler
There are three WAYS to light a room and when you can use all three it will not only add interest but lots of lighting choices for mood and activities. The room above has done it beautifully with an overhead ceiling light, lamps and a plant up-light.
Ceiling fixtures

There are three TYPES of lighting depending on what your needs are in a space. Using them well will make your rooms easy to navigate, easy to do activities in, and best of all… beautiful!

General/ambient lighting is the main lighting and provides about 75% of the room’s light. It’s job is to make it easy to walk into a space and navigate around it.  For larger rooms, it may it provided by several ceiling fixtures.

Task lighting helps you easily have the light you need for everyday activities – like reading, meal prep, or grooming. So plan your rooms to give you the lighting where you need it for the things you do daily.

Accent lighting brings beautiful things to life in your room from architectural details – like arches, wallpapered ceilings to decor such as artwork and collections.

Here are 4 ideas for adding lighting to your home to decorate, create a mood and light the way for daily tasks!

romantic-bedroom-lightingDIMMER SWITCHES, (Ambient Lighting)
The first thing that people respond to in a room is the mood created by the lighting. So dimmer switches will give you spaces with many moods and uses so take advantage of them everywhere you can. For instance, have a brighter light level in the bathrooms for “mirror time” and low, spa-like lighting for tub soaking time. Brighter lights in bedroom for dressing or reading and lower lights for a romantic feel. Overall, lower light levels make a space feel intimate and cozy and brighter ones more spacious and alive. (And to get practical for a moment,  they are energy saving as well!)

2017-leaving-with-the-best-kitchen-ideas-excellent-best-kitchen-most-efficient-kitchen-island-most-efficient-small-kitchen-design-970x728UNDER CABINET LIGHTING, (Task Lighting)
For such little light source it does so much! Puts light right where you need it on work surfaces in kitchens and workrooms and leaves a handy glow in the room for quick errands in and out. AND makes it gorgeous at night instead of flat with just overhead lighting.

LIGHT YOUR ARTWORK, (Accent Lighting)
Your major artwork will come alive at night when it is lit instead of receding into a shadows around the perimeter of the room . The most effective accent lighting is a small can fixture attached to the ceiling that points right on the art. You will be unaware of the light source and only see your art beautifully highlighted.
Lighting… one more design element to be used to create the rooms you’ll love!
Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.

New Years Home Improvement (Designer ideas to make your new year bright!)

Once the holiday decorations are down, its amazing how easy it is to see your space with new eyes. How, without all the tinsel and lights it’s seriously hoping for a fresh start in the new year. Besides, this is a great time to get an indoor home improvement project done because you get to enjoy it while you wait for spring, and beyond!

Here are designer ideas that will give your space a face-lift you’ll love:

Paint your entrys ceiling! It’s a grand way to add style without taking up any valuable floor space. Perfect.

Find a large, showstopper piece of art you love, add a gorgeous chandelier, a floor plant (and a several smaller ones) and your room will come alive.

GIVE YOUR BEDROOM A FRESH STARTBedroom-Accent-Wall-applicationGet fabulous new bed linens, pull out the accent color and paint it on the wall behind the bed. Done and done! Love it.

kitchen-cabinet-refacing-before-painting-wood-standard_48cfdd869142e1d6fe6ee9b4bde7eb6e_680x473_q85-Nicole Duff
Does your kitchen seem like too big a project to even seriously think about re-doing it? But look what can happen by updating it while keeping the same footprint.

kitchen-cabinet-refacing-after-painting-wood_afa4548809f42e17b1c730b20d5e2fc5Nicole Duff
Cabinets were updated with paint and hardware, and an updated countertop, backsplash, range hood, dishwasher, sink, faucet and window blind were added to complete it. Since no walls were knocked out and the room wasn’t gutted no utilities were moved. All that meant a lot less mess, time and expense making a kitchen refresh do-able!

GIVE YOUR OFFICE A FRESH STARTgallery-1508795565-accessoriesAdd new accessories!  This brass lamp, waste basket and paperweight plus a pencil holder and plant make this mini office feel new and fresh. So simple, so classy.

Get inspired and get going on that room you would love to love!

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.



Updating Your Bathroom (The secret to maximizing your budget)

No one likes living with an old bathroom but the thought of remodeling the second most expensive room in the house might have kept you from even considering it. But the secret to maximizing a bathroom remodeling budget is to simply keep the same footprint.  Just replace the old with the new: keep the tub or shower, sink and toilet in the same place. That will save you thousands when you don’t have to relocate the plumbing and electrical wiring.

By saving there, your budget can be used for all the new things that will make your bathroom gorgeous.  And for using pro’s instead of deciding to DIY things you may never have done before, that may end up costing money to fix.


Another way to maximize your bathroom remodeling budget is to not feel like everything has to be a “show stopper”. In fact, it is better if it isn’t. Bathrooms are smaller rooms and can look overdone if too many things are vying for attention. Instead, decide what will make the biggest impact that you really would love. Is it a  fancy tile backsplash with a matching accent on the floor? Or a frameless walk-in shower? Or gorgeous vessel sinks and faucets, a certain vanity style, or fabulous wallpaper?

Speaking of vanities, take a look at yours to see if they might still have a future in your new bathroom. Because if you like the style, and it is still sturdy, having them painted and adding new hardware will totally transform them.


Lastly, have a plan and all materials selected and purchased before any work begins. That will avoid any costly, time-consuming scenarios of having to change course in mid-stream. You will know you have everything that beautifully goes together to create a bathroom you will love!

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.

How to Choose the Best Interior Paint Colors (6 Designer Tips!)

Choosing the best interior paint colors for your home can be exciting and frightening all at the same time! And since the walls and ceiling are the largest amount of design surface in your home it’s a great chance to transform spaces without major renovations. So lets talk about how to choose the best paint colors to create the rooms you love.

Taupe Dining Room Banquette

Taupe Dining Room Banquette

What kind of mood do you want to in your room? Do you want your dining area to feel family sociable or more proper? Warmer, brighter and contrasting colors are lively and grays, blues, and neutrals will be more elegant.

How about the bedroom? Want it to  be calm or dramatic? Soft colors and cool colors (blues, green, gray, white) are usually calmer feeling and strong colors are more dramatic.


The kind of lighting you see you color in will affect the way it looks. So if the paint store has a light box test your color chips there first:
– Natural daylight shows the true color
– Incandescent lighting is yellow and makes colors look warmer
– Fluorescent lighting is blue and makes colors look cooler

See how the color changes in the dining area by the window compared to the seating area? It works beautifully here because it looks like two shades when there was actually only one that needed to be painted to give the effect.

A strong color on the other hand, might be too bright and overpowering by a large window but could be just the thing as an accent wall away from the window or on all walls in another room with indirect lighting. So don’t be disappointed if your favorite color doesn’t work where you first try it, walk around and try it in other places.


Once you have looked at the paint chips at home, then it’s time to test the actual paint colors. (The paint chips are made with printer’s ink and not real paint which is why they typically aren’t exact matches.)

I’m not a fan of testing on the walls because:
– The color tests can be hard to hide when painting over it later
– It only lets you to test the color in one setting instead of in various lighting conditions.

My favorite way? Use a product like SureSwatch*, an adhesive paintable clear film that is removable. You just paint two coats of paint on it, let it dry and stick on any wall/ceiling) anywhere.  So you can check it in every space you need to see how it looks with the lighting. Plus you can easily check it with any large furnishing or decor for color compatibility. (*Available at Home Depot and Amazon.)


Look at where your room opens into other rooms or spaces plan how the colors in one room will look when you see into the adjoining space.

An easy way to do this beautifully is to choose a neutral signature color for your home. Then use several accent colors in the varying amounts in the different rooms. Or if you want to keep to a neutral palette, use the same neutral  in various shades of light and dark like this space.

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Use a fabric in the room for your color scheme inspiration. This medium gray bed cover is  perfectly complemented by the dark gray accent wall and the light gray room walls. Love it.

(Take a swatch of the fabric with you to the paint store for color reference.)


Neutral-Color-Scheme-For-Living-Room.-Neutral-Color-Scheme-Living-Room-Colour-With-Patterns-Texture-traditional-neutral-living-rooms (1)

Neutral can be both calm or dramatic! It all depends on what neutrals, what shades  and what finishes you use.

You can make the room low-key like this one with by using light neutrals that vary subtly such as a slightly darker or lighter wall color than the sofa. Then accent with neutral fabric patterns and various textures like the metal and glass coffee table and the woven rug.

If you are more dramatic in your style you can still use neutrals by either using light and darker high contrasting neutrals. For instance painting the window trim and interior doors charcoal and the walls and ceiling a medium to light neutral walls.  Add vibrant light and dark patterned pillow on the sofa. And keep the floor light with a dark area rug.

9 Designer tips for choosing the best paint colors for creating rooms you’ll love!

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.





How to Decorate with Art & Mirrors like a Pro (9 Designer Tips!)

Decorating with mirrors and with art are such hot  interior trends right now that I wanted to share 9 ideas I especially like on ways to do it no matter what your style is!

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Designer Tip #1
Highlight dark walls with a mirror gallery wall

Love to decorate with dark walls but don’t want a dark room? Do a mirror gallery wall! They will be the perfect way to brighten the room but still keep it dramatic.

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Designer Tip #2
Decorate dark walls with an art gallery wall

To decorate dark walls with art gallery wall choose pieces with lots of white or wide white matters so there will be enough contrast to make then dramatic

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Designer Tip #3
How to decorate stairs

Stairway wall art galleries are more challenging but this one is done to perfection. The secret? The bottom row of the art follows the same diagonal line up the wall as the stairs.

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Designer Tip #4
How to decorate with big mirrors

Break a rule right and you’ll have an updated twist on a classic space! Just by “oversizing” a mirror you’ll add instant impact to your room.

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Designer Tip #5
How to hang art in a small room

When you don’t have a lot of floor space to decorate then use an oversized piece of art to do the job!

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Designer Tip #6
Mix up your styles

With styles being so mixed now you have the perfect opportunity to be current no matter what your style is. So if you’re traditional, when the hot trend is modern, you can still design a space with an updated look by adding a vintage modern mirror.

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Designer Tip #7
Add Mirror Personality

Decorating with a mirror in a bathroom is a chance to make a small room look great. Choose a unique mirror and it will become the jewel in the room and give it unforgettable personality.

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Designer Tip #8
How to do a wall gallery collage

This is how to make a wall gallery collage  and not have a mess on the wall when you’re done! The secret? Everything’s arranged into an even shape. So pick a shape, (circle, rectangle, or a square) and start working all your pieces together (like a puzzle) until you get  the best fit. It doesn’t have to be perfect but the closer you get to an even shape the better your wall gallery collage will look!

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Designer Tip #9
Be Bold and Be Done!

Decorate an entryway with a bold mirror and you’re almost done!  Just add an area rug, (KIP: link to my blog on area rugs) a floor accessory (or floor plant) and viola, your space is simply fabulous!
BONUS: This bold mirror treatment will make a small space bigger instantly.

Just keep my 9 designer tips in mind and you’ll be on your way to hanging your art and mirrors in style!

If you would like to have my personal design help find out more here.  (Link to my website) I’ll use the same design expertise in your space as I’ve done in rooms featured on HGTV, so your space can perfectly reflect your style!

BONUS! For more of my Designer Tips blogs click here.

Find out ways we can also help you love your home without doing any major renovations by clicking “Curated Options” and “Collaboration“. Or call Mary for a free 15 minute consultation at 760-84-1200 or by connecting online.

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