Gratitude from The Decor Stylist


Gratitude!  All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you!

This year has been a whirlwind of growth for The Decor Stylist.  I am overwhelmed by the success our team has had this past year.  An awesome feeling of gratitude is the result!  I’m not saying this year has been easy.  Lots of ups and downs with learning along the way.  But to get where we are today is so worth it.

None of it is possible without the incredible people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with.  My loyal clients, creative partners and skilled tradespeople helped make this year a success.  I’m honored that you put your trust in The Decor Stylist and my interior design skills.

We are spending time this month strategizing for next year to more effectively package services and products that we think you want to see.  One of the things that went by the wayside these last few months was the blog.  I do love to blog but just couldn’t find the time as the design and project management projects took off.  So in 2018, I’m going VLOG!  I’m committing to do Interior Design videos – quick and easy hits to help you design your ideal space.

It is our sincerest wish that you have a Merry Christmas and happiest of New Years!

Love Seeing Our Decorating!

Love Seeing Our Decorating!

Small Living Room Design

It never gets old seeing our work highlighted by others. Here you can catch a glimpse of our Modern Living Room in this link ~ How To Decorate a Small Living Room.


This room is definitely a high-low design.  The homeowner chose to spend more on the permanent furnishings in neutral fabrics.  The coffee table was the big splurge item.  Both functional and comfortable, the distressed black leather coffee table provides a comfy place to rest your feet.  It was found at Matter of Design, a gem of a design store in Hudson, Ohio.  MOD has really cool, modern furnishings.  I love that they offer furniture and accessories that are locally made.  Their offerings of artwork and wall decor is impressive as well.  Swivel chairs were chosen to accommodate both conversation and movie watching. The swing arm Jonathan Adler lamp behind the chairs provides ample lighting for reading or knitting.

The photos below are from the summer, which highlights light, airy drapes.  The homeowner switches out the the drapery in the colder months, preferring darker, crushed velvet fabric.


Sourcing List

Walls – Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray 6205

Rug – Rugs USA Marrakesh Shag

Coffee Table – Matter of Design (MOD) in Hudson, Ohio

Window Treatments – Pottery Barn

Glass Etagere – World Market

Pillows – MOD and Wayfair

Accessories – various including World Market, Home Goods.

Lighting – Jonathan Adler 

Table Lamps – Home Goods 

Vase – homeowner’s heirloom

Credenza – homeowners, Henredon

Feel free to browse my room and more inspiration over on Shutterfly’s 100 small living room ideas interactive!”


living-room-styling-4 living-room-styling-5 living-room-styling-8  livingroom_styling3

14 Interior Design Secrets

14 Interior Design Secrets

As a blog bonus, I’ve put together a list of design secrets to help your rooms go from drab to fab.  These are fun little nuggets of design know-how that designers use to make a space unique and authentically real.

If you are struggling to get the look or feel you crave in your home, let us know.  We are hear to help you!  The Decor Stylist offers both in-home and e-design services that are very affordable.  We can work within your budget.  Adding the plan and detail to your vision, together we can create your dream space.  A place to cherish…a place to live…a place to call home!

Check out our Instagram feed here for more design inspiration.



Home Staging ~ 411


Home Staging ~ 411

Take Your Home From Drab to Fab

home staging living room

What is home staging?

Home staging “is the act of preparing a private residence prior to going up for sale in the real estate marketplace.”  The main goal of staging is to sell a home as quickly as possible for the most money. We do this by attracting the highest amount of potential, targeted buyers. Staging improves the look and feel of a property to make it appeal to the largest number of buyers.  Staging transforms the home into a welcoming, appealing, and attractive product for sale. Staging often raises the value of a property by way of reducing the home’s flaws, depersonalizing, decluttering, cleaning, improving the general condition, and landscaping.


staging bookshelf

Is my house worth staging?
All homes, no matter what the market value, should be staged. Regardless of size or neighborhood, homes should be staged to show its best features.  Buyers look within certain price ranges, so your home will be competing with all homes in that price range. By making your home stand out among the competition in that price range, you are more likely to get a sale.  It is more likely to be selected over the competition at the same price.  Often, the perceived value of a staged home is higher than an unstaged home because it shows so well in pictures and walk throughs.

Why should I stage my home?

Staged homes sell faster and for more money than unstaged homes. The facts don’t lie – staged homes sell faster and spend less time on the market than unstaged homes.  Staged homes appeal to buyers because they are clean, organized, and appear spacious. The architecture, views, and storage spaces are highlighted. Staged homes stand above the competition. Stagers eliminate buyer objections so that buyers can fall in love with your home and place an offer.  Now, it’s important to not that staging is not a miracle worker.  For example, not having a 4th bedroom the target buyer needs can be a continued concern.  However, if you have your home well staged and perhaps turn an office into a flex space, a buyer may be willing to look past the missing 4th bedroom.  This is just one of the many tried and try tricks of the trade that help your home appeal to targeted buyers.

staging family roomWhen should I stage my home?
You should ALWAYS stage your home before putting your house on the market. Putting your house on the market before staging is never a good idea. First impressions matter!  I get so many calls from clients because the house hasn’t moved.  By then, the house has been on the market and reads as stale in the marketplace.  A price adjustment is usually called for at this stage.  If you stage before listing, we can list for the highest amount possible.

Living Room StagingHow long does home staging take?
A typical home consultation takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the home and what the homeowner needs done on the spot. This includes walking through the property to give the homeowner a detailed checklist of what to keep, what to store away, furniture placement, and suggested improvements.  The homeowner can then use that report to make the needed changes before listing the house on the market.

Consultation plus staging
Taking it a step further, the stager can do the work for you.  It is often better for homeowners to allow stagers to do the consultation as well as arrange the furniture and accessories.  This option takes longer during the initial staging, but makes the homeowner’s work load much easier to manage.  Moving is one of the top five stressors.  Homeowners are so busy with moving and making arrangements for the new home that they are not equipped to take on the work that is required for good, effective staging.  The Decor Stylist typically offers either half day or full day staging packages, which includes both the report and making the aesthetic changes.  We can customize options as well for larger, more complex properties that would include coordination of home improvements, trades, and landscaping.

Staging Lower LevelHow much does home staging cost?
The cost of staging varies by amount the of time and money you are willing to put into your home. At The Decor Stylist, half day staging average about $500 and full day staging estimate is around $1000.  A two-hour consultation is about $200.  Regardless of what package you choose, you get back more money than you put into preparing your home’s sale. Professional staging will reward the homeowner with around $5.00 to $10.00 return for every dollar invested. Stagers professional advice is always rooted in getting the best return for your money.  We suggest where the best return on investment can be found, advise on home improvements, and provide the most reasonably priced resources. For some homeowners, staging costs as little as nothing but time and effort.

Who pays for home staging?
Either. Real estate agents doing business with The Decor Stylist typically pay for the service. A good real estate agent understands the value that staging provides.  Owners who are selling their home themselves realize the importance of getting help.  Using a professional provides an objective opinion on needed changes and how to eliminate buyer objections.  I have also negotiated on a seller’s behalf so that the realtor and homeowner split the cost.

ASHSRlogocroppedShould I hire an accredited stager?
Yes! Accredited stagers are not people who have a knack for “decorating.”  Accredited stagers are professionals trained in the real estate industry to know how to eliminate buyer objections.  At The Decor Stylist, we are a trained and accredited professional staging and redesign firm through HSR and the RESA.

Cnewcertlogonoboxresizean I learn to stage my own home?
Yes, at The Decor Stylist, we work with the homeowner to teach them on how to stage and redesign their home. We teach them not only what needs to be done but why.  Our goal is for the client to learn along the way in order to apply what he/she has learned to other areas of the house.

How do I prepare for my staging appointment?
Clean, clean, clean and clear the clutter.  Prepare for your home’s sale by boxing up as many items as you can, especially small collectibles and kitchen items. These items and out of season clothes should be boxed and stored in the basement, garage, new home or storage unit. You will also want to deep clean – have carpets cleaned, windows washed, closets cleaned out and appliances as clean as new. Staging bathroom

Other Inspiration
Check out our Instagram account and the “See Our Work” page for ideas and inspiration.  You may also want to check out some of the popular real estate and staging shows on TV such as:

  • “Property Brothers”
  • “Designed to Sell”
  • “Flip or Flop”
    “Love It or List It”


“Sell This House”
“Flipping Vegas”

Will I get back the money I spend on staging?
Many homeowners ask, “Why should I invest money into a house if I am moving out of it?” Statistics show that you will get a $5 – $10 return on investment for every dollar spent on staging and repairs. Not only that, but staged homes spend less time on the market than unstaged homes, which means a faster sale! Homes that are staged typically do not take as many reductions as unstaged homes which also results in a higher selling price. The answer is YES. You will always get your money back, and more, staging your home.

staging great roomCan I become an accredited home stager?
Yes, The Decor Stylist partners with Home Staging Resource to provide accredidated staging and redesign training.   This training includes interior redesign and styling techniques as well as how to start your own home-staging business.

Do you offer continuing education classes for Realtors?
I am available for training realtor groups or one-on-one training for realtors that want to add staging to their expertise.

staging bedroomCan you help me choose paint colors, furniture and accessories?
Yes. Our designers are Credited Color Experts (CCE’s), trained and accredited through Home Staging Resource and the Real Estate Staging Association.  We are well-trained to help homeowners choose the right paint color, furniture and accessory for every situation whether selling or enjoying your home.

How can I schedule an appointment?
Scheduling an appointment is easy! During normal business hours, call Noreen Wolohan directly by calling (234) 380-5300. You can also visit our Contact page to request an appointment.

Interior Design The Year You Were Born

Interior Design The Year You Were Born

The profession of interior design is about 100 years old.  It began as the art of decoration using both form and function and design trends began to emerge.  Today, interior design has evolved into many fields including interior redesign, styling, and specialty interior design.  It’s important to study the history of design trends over the years to understand the influences on today’s design trends.

To help us do that, I’m sharing this post from House Beautiful ~ Decor Trends The Year You Were Born via House Beautiful by Bri Dyes.

via House Beautiful
via House Beautiful

I ended up spending a good hour studying these photos from year to year.  Interior tastes evolve a bit slower than hairstyles or fashion, but you’d be surprised at how much can change from year to year. The frills of the ’40s, the eclectic ’70s, the pastel explosion of the ’80s — what was hot the year you were born?  Some ideas were ahead of their time and have aged well.  Others, well…some things are meant to die.

Let’s take a look!

1928 ~ At Salon des Artistes Dècorateurs, Charlotte Perriand debuts a table and stools that would feel right at home in our current homes.  Juxtapose that 1928 table to this 2016 Wayfair set.  The minimalist influence is definitely present in today’s both transitional and modern homes.

via House Beautiful, Hulton Archives
via House Beautiful,
Hulton Archives
Mayfair Dining Trend, 2016
Wayfair Dining Trend, 2016

Wayfair Presidential Arm Chair

Wayfair Presidential Arm Chair

1940 ~ Designed by French Art Deco modernist designer Jacques Adnet, the art deco influence can be seen again in the mid-70’s as well as in today’s interiors.  Check out the mirror and club chair – I’d like those in my home!

via House Beautiful Hulton Archives

1955 ~ A Danish influence can be seen in the dining room set in this colorful home.  I could see this dining table and chandelier used in today’s dining rooms.  The chintz drapery, not so much.

via House Beautiful Getty / Housewife

1961 ~ In this 1960’s bathroom design, white and gold create a luxurious atmosphere with loads of natural light. In more modest homes, brass and gold become the go-to metal accents for the bath.

via House Beautiful Archives
via House Beautiful

Fast forward to today, and we see white and gold trending all over.  Check out the Nate Berkus collection at Target.


1967 ~ Red and white gives this room a mod feel design trend.  The clean lined couch and armless chairs look like they came from AllModern or CB2.  The fake exterior styling in this shot cracks me up.  I do love a good fern though!  And it looks like a world encyclopedia set on the built in shelves.  For those of you born after 1990, that was our internet back in the 1960s and 197os!

via House Beautiful Photo via Flickr

1970 ~ This is my year in all it’s glory (and foil wallpaper).  Whoa, that yellow and red metallic palette is crazy!  I love the hanging planters and color block floor though.  My Mom and Dad had the same color appliances back in the day.

via House Beautiful
via House Beautiful

1987 ~ There was a wide variance in design trends in the 80’s from preppy pink, Miami Vice cool, to upscale country with French blue (think Martha Stewart).  If we had to pick the trend that feels the most “80s” to us, it’s still that romantic English look, chintz and all.

via House Beautiful 1987
via House Beautiful

1997 ~ The decade sees a return to earth tones. Softer greens and beiges were a popular choice.  Indeed, I think of my work wardrobe in the 90’s which primarily consisted of beige, white and black.  In the below 1997 photo, blonde woods are the go-to choice for furniture — it’s perfect for mixing with reds, greens, and other popular color choices of the period.

via House Beautiful GETTY / ULLSTEIN BILD
via House Beautiful

So what’s your favorite year?  Do you see the influence the decades have had on your style?  As interior design trends continues to evolve, it’s fascinating to see old influences emerge in a rapidly changing world in which we live.

If you are looking for redesign or styling work, please consider The Decor Stylist.  We provide both in home and e-design services.  For ideas and inspiration, come see us on our social media channels.

Pinterest    instagram_circle_black-512-e1407347498510

How to Bring Indigo into Your Home

15 Ways to Bring Indigo into Your Home

15 Ways to Bring On-Trend Indigo into Your Home

My home color palette and the colors I gravitate to are the greys, greens, and blues.


Enter the seductive color of indigo. Indigo adds that deep richness that I’m craving this time of year. Bonus is that the color is totally on-trend right now and you can score some great deals at affordable retail stores and online dealers.  Indigo hue is timeless yet will add a fresh look to today’s greyed out neutrals.  Think Restoration Hardware with a pop of indigo ~ Swoon! feed my indigo crush, I recently read Catherine E. McKinley’s Indigo: In search of The Color that Seduced the World, a history lesson on this precious dye and it’s ancient heritage.  I highly recommend the read and BONUS ALERT: the book jacket is awesome; a lovely way to add a pop of indigo to your coffee table styling.)

Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik 7602
Indigo Batik SW7602

If you are looking for a color accent for your wall, look no further than Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik SW7602 which has a lovely warm gray undertone.  Check out The Decor Stylist’s  Pinterest page for more ideas on using Indigo Batik on walls or cabinets. (and give me some love while you’re there by following @thedecorstylist page).



RELATEDHow to Decorate with Blue and White}

Here are my top 15 Indigo product picks (plus a few extra for good measure!)

Happy shopping, y’all

World Market:

  • Indigo Organic Reactive Glaze Serving PlatterIndigo Organic Reactive Glaze Serving Platter  I bought this platter to pair with my blue and white Polish Pottery that I bring out this time of year.  You can learn more about the ancient Polish Pottery here which originated in the early 1800’s.  It’s still created today by Boleslawiec skilled artists individually handcrafting and hand painting each piece of pottery using a hand-stamping technique and free-hand design.



Blue Ikat Ogee Napkins

  • While you are on the World Market site, check out the Blue Ikat Ogee Napkins too.  What an easy way to add some of that scrumptious deep blue color!
  • You might as well enjoy the gorgeous indigo color as you head out the door with an Indigo Patchwork Infinity Scarf.

Indigo Patchwork Infinity Scarf

Anthropologie‘s aesthetically pleasing retail stores are chock full of unique boho-chic clothing, accessories and home decor.  Whenever I walk into one of their stores, I think French flea market.  As an Anthro bonus, here’s a great read by Mental Floss blog ~ 18 Stylish Facts About Anthropologie.  While on the pricey side of what I would call affordable, you can find items that fit the budget bill. Here are a couple of options that celebrate our love of indigo AND are affordable.

  • Indigo and Shibori Natural Dye Kit ~ This is a great option and DIY craft idea.  All you need is plant-dyed cotton or jersey knit cloth.  The kit has everything you need to create one of a kind, abstract Shibori Designs.  Shibori is a Jananese dyeing technique that typically involves folding, twisting or bunching cloth and binding it, then dyeing it in indigo.  If you are interested in learning more, check out Design Sponge’s DYI Shibori Designs 4 Ways

Indigo and Shibori Natural Dye Kit



  • While you are there, check out this terrific cotton jersey Nila T-Shirt Dress.  I love it!



There’s something totally relaxing about wandering around a TJMaxx or Home Goods store hunting a sweet deal.  But if you’re like me and just don’t have time for that crap, then you are in luck.  TJ Maxx is now online.  Can I get an Alleluia?  Took me but a few minutes to score these sweet deals.

  • Euro Ceramica Dinnerware Set which includes 16 pieces (4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, 4 cereal bowls, and 4 mugs) for 60 bucks.  You can’t beat that price!

  • Happiness JarHappiness Jar – The title says it all!  We use a similar jar at home (ours is green and white) for our Happiness Project. Everyone (immediate family, extended family and friends) periodically write notes to the happiness jar to say what makes them happy that day. We’re going on a couple years with this tradition, and my high schoolers love it (hey, it is not easy to get them excited about one of our traditions). Last year we had a blast opening the notes on New Year’s Eve and reminiscing the good and hilarious antics of the past year.   My favorite from last year, written by a friend of my son Ryan, “I’m happy Mrs. Jackson still allows me in this house!”

You can read about starting your own happiness project from blogger Mommypotomus.

Target has tons of options in the blue and white color palette.  They are also big on the gold and bare wood trends, which look great with indigo!



Indigo Ombre Coiled Rope Basket

One of my favorite and easiest online sites, Wayfair, is a splendid option for on-trend furnishings and accessories at an affordable price.  They consistently run sales and free shipping so the price is often right on.  Be sure to check their curated sales promos for awesome decor ideas!  The sister sites of Birch Lane, AllModern and Dwell Studio are worth a look too.


Indigo Dish Towels

  • Belle Maison Dorian Printed Grommet Panel is a great option to dress up your windows.  The geometric indigo print is on-trend with airy fabric light enough to allow sunlight to stream through.  Winter is coming ~ let’s keep that sun shining in as long as possible!  

Indigo Geometric Panel

So that’s it, 15 ways to bring the deep blue gorgeousness of indigo into your home.  Enjoy and happy Fall!

Top 10 Design Books for Smart Design Content and Inspiration

Top 10 Design Books For Smart Design Content and Inspiration

Call me old school but I do enjoy a fine print book.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend a lot of time online.  I communicate with my followers through social media which is a connection so dear to me.  But there’s just something about finding an interesting book and escaping life just for a moment.  I love getting lost in its pages especially with design and art books.

My husband Scott says I have a small obsession.  Of course, I assure him I really need my latest design book “for my research.” (wink, wink) Truthfully, I just love looking at the inspiring designs and beautifully styled images.  That’s my escape.  Believe me, I am giddy when the latest Architectural Digest arrives in the mail.  After an initial scan of pages, I then go back to study the design content, interior design principles and styling techniques used.  It really is continuing education as I look for ways to merge styles and eras of interior design.

Here’s my must-have, go-to design book list.  The Top 10 Design Books list is by no means complete, but these are my favorites, providing smart design content and excellent inspiration for our design sensibilities.  Links are included to the designers’ website or Amazon in case you want to grow your design library.

If you are local, I highly recommend heading down to our little bookstore gem, The Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio to order your book.  Kate Schlademan and staff go out of their way to be helpful.  I’ve found if they don’t have a book in stock, they can easily order it.  I always try to buy and promote local whenever possible.

Top 10 Design Books

  • ac7757c00131f9940e084bd3c91ad83cHabitat by Lauren Liess ~ This is my top dog!  I love, love, love this book and refer to its pages frequently.  Uniquely packaged as a handy field guide to decorating, it provides a wealth of information on key principles of design.  I definitely recommend you add Habitat design book to your design library.  Lauren invites readers to bring nature inside by mixing natural elements such as wood and stone with groupings of modern and quirky vintage pieces. Readers will be inspired by the eclectic style of these rooms, which include Liess’ own textile patterns inspired by nature.  The first section of the book is dedicated to the fundamental elements of design, helpful for those who are just getting started on a home design project. If you want more nature inspired decor ideas, check out The Decor Stylist Pinterest board Natural Elements.


  • The Natural Eclectic by Heather Ross ~ This design book is another personal favorite of mine because Heather, a West Coast artist, collector and stylist, focuses on creating that natural aesthetic that speaks so powerfully to me.  Heather challenges the reader to awaken to their environment and bring a nature-inspired aesthetic to life.  She incorporates natural materials into her designs through color and texture and shares professional tips on creating engaging displays through the art of placement. The stunning images of watery blues, greens and earthy elements evoke a serene and tranquil mood.  You could seriously frame the pages of this book!


  • The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman ~ As the creative guru behind Domino, Deborah is a leader in the design industry.  I recommend this design book because Deborah goes to great length to dismiss the myth that great home design has to be perfect.  She shows the reader how to create a stylish yet comfortable and relaxed home using essential elements of style.  Artist Virginia Johnson‘s original watercolor illustrations bring room designs to life and provide a lovely alternative to traditional design photography.  The indexes are a  resource to refer to when selecting vendors and products.  According to Deborah, “the point of decorating is to create the background for the best life you can have, with all its joys and imperfections.” This design book will show you how.
  • dfef78448eb5c2e11545e0e539833f93Dream Decor by Will Taylor ~ I’m totally crushing on this 2016 design book that highlights Will Taylor and his Bright Bazaar blog with photography by Andrew Boyd. The tagline says it all ~ styling a cool, creative and comfortable home wherever you live.  No doubt about it, Will Taylor is cool!  The book is filled with really great design information highlighting elements of design and design styles bringing them together to create a dream decor home.  Will says it best, “To me a well decorated home is a collection of personal dividends gathered from one’s own experiences.”  I also love his hashtag #makeyousmilestyle and yes, it makes me smile.


  • Domino The Book of Decorating by Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello, and Dara Caponigro ~ This design book is an oldie (2008) but a goody.  Added bonus:  pick up used copies for only a few bucks.  I find “the decorators’ handbook” and “the big black book” sections at the end of the book extremely helpful when I’m coaching my clients through an interior design project.  With my blend of interior design and coaching, my goal on all projects is to teach my client throughout the design process so they can become knowledgeable and confident to create their dream home.  This is just one of the sources I use to teach along the way.
  • cfaf27692b7dc9ae89bffb7b1da17015At Home Sarah Style by Sarah Richardson ~ Sarah and her sidekick Tommy Smythe have long been my favorite design duo.  Their take on traditional and cottage living is fresh and honest.  Their stunningly beautiful design photos are authentic that evoke real living. I love all her books, but the At Home design book is a unique blend of design, lifestyle, personal photos to show you how to live well in your homes.  Her Sarah Style design book from 2014 is also worth the investment in reading.
  • 2ce540ea2e77debe742a2fc75253ea36Elements of Style ~ Designing a Home and a Life by Erin Gates.  Erin provides smart design content for living a stylish life. Her “define your style” sections in each chapter are especially helpful.  The Elements of Style blog is worth checking out too.
  • House Beautiful ~ In addition to design books, here are my go-to design magazines when I’m working with a client to determine his or her personal aesthetic.  The photos and various styles that the magazine highlights provide potential inspiration at the start of a home design project.

  • HGTV
    ~ Another great magazine to peruse.  It’s youthful featuring fresh, on-trend ideas and design inspiration with beautifully styled images.  The popular celMag_Collageebrity segments with HGTV’s favorite hosts are always a fun and resourceful read.  Colors are saturated and vibrant giving a youthful vibe to the magazine.
  • Traditional Home – I have many traditional clients looking for a refresh but still maintain a nod toward tradition. I call it “Traditional Now” and Traditional Home is a great source for transitional style.  I use this magazine to review with clients who have a hard time defining their style.
  • Bonus Tip:  Utilize your beautiful design books as props when styling your home.  As with any beloved book, they are as stylish and telling of your personality as a fabulous vintage clock or piece of metal wall art.  Use books to style a bookshelf, stack them on a side table or use them on a coffee table.  Mix topics that are dear to you, providing inspiration whenever you look at them.  Indeed, books create color palettes, set tones and act as subtle reminders of special memories in a room.

Mindful Budgeting


What’s the one thing that serves as your guide post and safety net throughout the design process?  What provides needed control and all decisions are made from that standpoint?  Without it we make costly interior design mistakes and causes added stress.   It’s the budget, folks.     

Setting and managing a realistic budget allows us to make intentional and mindful design decisions.  It stops the impulse purchases so often associated with design projects.  Have you ever really thought about the cost of those purchases?  Hire a painter who puts the wrong color on the wall – that will cost you $1000.  Buy a knock off table that starts to chip within a few months will set you back $850.  Even worse, buy a sofa on clearance at a door buster price only to get it home to find it doesn’t fit and isn’t returnable.  Yeah, that will cost you upwards of $3200.  Not to mention the cost of being disappointed in the overall project.  The fact is interior design mistakes are costly, both in terms of cost and increased stress levels.  Not having a budget is like a ship without a rudder.  The result is overspending, bad design decisions and stress!  Costs_Mistakes

After working with many homeowners on their spaces, I can tell you it’s the budget that often times trips people up. It’s an uncomfortable topic so we tend to avoid going there. I’m here to tell you budget stress is unnecessary and it doesn’t have to be that way. Think of your budget as your buddy, someone who is looking out for you and your bottom line. It is important to know that there is no judgment in having a budget, whatever the dollar amount is. Your budget is what it is and it is my job and the job of any designer or tradesperson to serve your budget.  Mindful budgeting is a key component of the design process.  no_strategy_stress

My number one suggestion to clients – spend time and effort up front to put realistic numbers down for your redesign. Be mindful in setting your project budget. It is worth it!  The fact is you can redesign your room on any budget – from thrifty to high-dollar spending.  The important thing is that you know where you stand from a dollar standpoint.  It takes the guesswork out of what you can do to the space and what you can purchase.

Plan, Plan, Plan
Always create a budget before you start a project.  According to the 2016 Houzz and Home Report, “nearly one-third of homeowners take on a remodeling project without setting a budget. Another one-third of homeowners exceed spending on an established budget with spending at least 1.5 times more than those who come in at budget or who have no budget in the first place”.  It’s easy to “have an idea” of what you want to spend and how you want your space to look.  Taking it a step further with a detailed plan that allows those ideas to become concrete parameters from which to make decisions.

Crunching the numbers
Coming up with a budget means you first have to decide how much money you can comfortably spend on the project. You have a few options in terms of what type of project you’re willing to undertake. Are you talking a quick refresh or a full remodel?  Do you want to DIY or hire a professional designer to guide you through the process?  For example, you can hire a professional for one task with a specific cost and timeline or keep them on retainer. Some interior designers can also help you with interior styling and may add a percentage fee or mark-up fee for purchased goods. Before hiring a professional, have a clear understanding of how the designer charges for their time and be clear with your budgetary goals and guidelines.

If you are doing a big renovation, the planning with a designer is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL when it comes to large room redesign.  Hiring a professional up front to guide you in the strategy, budgeting and design process is invaluable.  Designers are valued for integrating and defining the clients’ design and style ideas and educating them on budget.  It is easier for a professional to keep emotional decisions in check – like when the homeowner really wants that flooring that costs twice as much as the budget allows.    According to Houzz, “homeowners cite designers’ help with finding products and materials as being among the most valued contributions during renovations”.  A good designer will talk about the budget first, then provide suggestions in a lower price point to get a similar look as the higher priced product.  Or if that flooring is a “must have” then the designer can suggest cutbacks in other line items of the budget.

You Have Control
I know some of you are freaking out right now thinking, ok, no matter what value design professionals add, it’s still a lot of money! This is true BUT you have control here!  Even in situations where you want to take on most of the interior design yourself, consulting with an interior designer can be a wise investment.  You can employ a designer who charges hourly as little or as much as you want so this helps in staying on budget. But if a designer is good, it is worth spending more money on them as they will save you money elsewhere with their knowledge and expertise.

It’s Your Home and Your Money
Home is our sanctuary, the place we find comfort, peace and love of family.  Treat your design projects with upmost care so your home will reap the greatest benefit.  Don’t be foolish and proceed without great advice first.  According to the same 2016 Houzz and Home Report, “homeowners cite finding products and materials, staying on budget, and managing the project as the most valued contributions of professionals during their projects, following the delivery of a quality result”.  Even a couple of hours talking with an experienced designer can be very enlightening and help you make some fast decisions which will save you money. As a designer, I’m happy to do a one-time consult with you to make your project go more smoothly in the end.  I view those consultations as an opportunity to cultivate relationships and build rapport.

Budgeting Tips to Consider

  1. Involve all players ~ This is a topic that can trip up even the most rock solid relationships.  Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when talking numbers.  Discuss the overall budget and each line item.  That way you can discuss discrepancies immediately and come to a compromise together.  Staying within budget sometimes means compromising on certain things. Top-of-the-line materials not only carry a higher material cost, they can often have a higher shipping fee, longer lead time and possibly a higher installation cost. If your budget is tight, you’ll want to see all the costs involved with your selected materials or furnishings before you purchase.  Your husband has a thing for super expensive bath hardware?  Great, add it in the renovation budget but then decide where to cut back somewhere else.  Money, multiple decisions, and varying preferences all come into play between partners in the design process.  Starting with a solid budget will set you on the right path to then make other pressing design decisions.
  2. Consider a phased plan ~ If the budget numbers are coming in over what you are willing or able to spend, consider a phased approach to the work.  Rather than putting your project off completely perhaps you can tackle a smaller area now, and save money for additional future changes. Look at how you can revise the scope of work to meet your current budget.  There is real benefit in working from a master plan, even if using a phased approach.
  3. Set a range for your budget line items rather than fixed costs.  This allows for some flexibility in spending – you can spend more on one line item and less on another.  That way your overall budget is still intact.  Remember there is always wiggle room on individual line items of your budget. The purpose of a budget is to be your guide when making decisions. However, it is just an estimate. Even the best plans can go awry.  I’ve never run into a project without running into a few surprises along the way. Be prepared and include a little cushion in your budget.  So if you go with the more expensive fabric on your couch and you go over on your budget in that area, don’t sweat it. You have wiggle room in other areas of the budget to make up for the overage.
  4. Lowest price isn’t always the right choice ~ don’t assume you will take the lowest price from a contractor or resource. Often retailers offer the door busters at a low price just to get you in the door.  The reality is the quality of the promo fabric is probably not adequate or to your liking. You will often opt for an extended service or higher grade fabric. You need to budget for these eventualities.  I love the graphic below from Hatch Designs that depicts the balance between price, style and schedule.  All of these factors are considered in the design process and require a constant compromise.  Planning_Balance_Price_Style_Schedule
  5. Plan for the unexpected ~ There are hidden costs associated with purchases and working with trades. For example, the state of Ohio has a sales tax rate of 6.75%.  Other costs include moving fees, consultation fees, demo costs.  That’s why it’s important to plan for every eventuality and budget for extra items, services, and labor, so you have a cushion in the event things don’t go as you thought.  Try to leave about 15-20% extra in your budget to cover these unexpected occurrences.
  6. What good is a budget if you don’t use it?  Be sure to have your budget numbers handy and with you when you are shopping or purchasing online. This ensures you are monitoring each line item as you spend.  It may be necessary to reevaluate items in the budget so on-going monitoring is essential.

So I hope I’ve convinced you to be mindful in your approach to realistic budgeting on design projects.  It makes the design process run smoothly and it’s much more enjoyable for both the home owner and others on the design team.


Add Modern Elements into Any Room

Modern-Style-header-3Want to update your current look to a more modern style? Learn how to incorporate neutral colors, geometrics and pattern for visual interest, and clean-lined furniture. For further advice and guidance, The Decor Stylist is here for you. We specialize in mixing styles to create unique, authentic rooms. A full-room refresh starts at $199 and includes one-on-one consultation with a designer, inspiration and style boards, floor planning, and a detailed shopping checklist. Check out The Decor Stylist Pinterest board Modern Design & Decor for visual inspiration!

This Modern Style Guide from Bellacor is a great resource to learn more about incorporating modern elements into your home.  Here’s another great read from MyDomaine 11 Ways to Modernize a Traditional Home.

What a fun day! Good vibes for an office makeover

What a Fun Day!  Good vibes for an Office Makeover

One very messy office, one designer, six super productive hours…

office1-daymakeover4I accepted the challenge to complete this amazing 1-day office makeover.  My client Nikki was thrilled with the results!  Some serious purging and decluttering was done to reveal a really great space.  We styled the room using Nikki’s existing furnishings and artwork.  By editing and reimagining accessories and art, we created a completely new, fresh space.

See the pictures below to get ideas how you can refresh your office in a day.


Here are a few tricks to get you started…

  1.  Purge! Purge! Purge!  It’s time to cut the clutter and get rid of needless paperwork.  Be relentless and remember to keep your eye on the prize – a clean, organized space that will renew your creative spirit.  For client’s gearing up for a big declutter project, I always gift to them a wonderful book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.  life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-2 This little gem highlights the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  I absolutely LOVE this book which is chock full of tips and tricks to creating an organized space.  I quoted her today, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”  How’s that for positive reinforcement!  That suggestion seemed to resonate with my client today and she really worked hard to clear the clutter.  I’m a firm believer that things in your home should only spark joy. “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.
  2. What’s the purpose?  Really think about what is the primary purpose of your space.  For today’s project, the “office” was a hodge-podge of home office, kid’s sports gear, dog kennel all the while Nikki was trying to run a home-based business.  office1-daymakeover6No wonder the space didn’t work for her!  We moved the kid’s sports gear into bins to be relocated to their rooms.  The dog’s belongings were moved to a cabinet and his crate was downsized into a closet nook.  Making these small changes coupled with a changed floor plan opened up the space to reemerge as a smart, creative home office space.
  3. Work in categories  Even after moving the dog and kids’ gear, Nikki needed to share space between her home-based business and home office responsibilities.  So we focused our efforts on categorizing into “zones”.  The armoire was cleared and organized for the home-based business.  The desk and console table where left fairly sparse to leave room for spreading out during creative work sessions.  The built-in cabinets provided room for home files and a billing center.  Every thing in the room now has a place.
  4. Light it up!  office1-daymakeover11Nikki admitted she often works in other places because she doesn’t feel good being in the office.  “It just feels dark and cramped.”  Indeed, the northern facing window doesn’t give that bright light that Nikki desires.  So we brought in three lamps as well as overhead lighting.  The heavy Carara marble and gold lamps provide the needed illumination and also act as stylish pieces in the room.  Those lamps are seriously heavy too!

5.  Make it personal  Nikki and I had so much fun “shopping” throughout her home for artwork, books, and accessories to utilize in her home office. office1-daymakeover5Every piece considered was evaluated based up whether or not it “sparked joy” for Nikki.  If it passed that test, we then evaluated whether the color, texture and size worked for us.  The Shantung silk drapes were not being used after a recent Living Room remodel.  The color no longer coordinated with the new living room decor, but Nikki admitted she has always loved those drapes.  Bam!  It still sparks joy and the color works.  The shimmer of the Shantung also provides a dash of needed glamour.  The wonderful portrait of “the man” was in the basement not being used.  I seriously squealed when I found it!  I knew it would be a perfect focal point for a small gallery along the window wall.

6. Add the bling!  office1-daymakeover8Whatever you want to call it ~ bling…je ne sais quoi…aesthetic…design fingerprint.  It’s about adding in that intangible quality into a room that makes it something distinctive and unique to you.  The most successful homes reflect the people who live there because their uniqueness comes through in the design.  We worked hard today to bring out those intangibles that spark joy and a renewed sense of purpose for Nikki.  A great example of adding that extra something was bringing the outdoors in.  The office window reveals a lovely side garden of hygrangas, hostas, and cedars.  Adding greenery inside the room merges the two spaces and adds that “something special” quality.

Table_Styling4 photo-1458783082186-f0f1e80c574d

Good vibesNikki was absolutely thrilled with her office makeover.  I swear, it’s that “good vibe” from my clients that keeps me going.  Just seeing the smile on her face makes it all worth it.  My goal with each client is to bring about that desired emotional response to their new space.  For more design inspiration, check out The Decor Stylist Pinterest boards.

As my organizing guru Marie Kondo says, “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.”  True dat, my friend.  Now, I’m exhausted after a seriously full day.  Off to watch the Copa America Cup and then the NBA Finals.  Go Cavs!