Tag Archives: Kansas City’s interior designer

Interior Design: 7 Steps to Designing a Dramatic Dining Room


Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Lillian August furniture

Who doesn’t love the thought of a beautiful dining room where you can have dinner parties, a romantic dinner, or just intimate family gatherings. Read on for how to design your own beautiful dining room.

1. Select Your Personal Design Style –  If  you have no idea what style you are start by finding inspiration photos online or in print.  Then notate your favorite elements from each room to get a sense of your style.   In this room a transitional glam style sectional is combined with a more traditional style chair and artwork.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Hickory White furniture

2. Pick  a Color Scheme –  Most of us don’t spend much time in a dining room so have fun in here and pick colors you love.  Bolder colors can go on decor, rugs, chairs, or even walls but if you like to change up your style often, you might consider neutral walls and floors that give more flexibility when you want to change your color scheme.  Here the yellow green chair fabrics repeat one of the colors in the art while the buffet and tabletop add a dark contrast to the bold colors.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Hickory White

3. Add Dining Table and Seating –  The dining room table and chairs along with the items directly behind them are the focal point of your room.   Begin by determining how many people you need to seat and ensuring you have room for the table you want.  Plus remember that your chairs don’t need to match your table, just enhance them.

If you opt for a dramatically styled table, then consider simpler style chairs and backdrop.  Or if you go with a simpler style table, you might bring in drama with a wall covering or beautiful buffet with art above.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Lillian White for Hickory furniture

4. Consider Including Additional Furniture –  The majority of dining rooms benefit from functional storage furniture like a buffet and curio cabinets shown in this photo, but don’t forget about sofa tables, tea carts, and other furnishings that can enhance your room and provide handy surfaces for lamps, platters, trays, or display.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Schumacher

 5. Introduce a Dramatic Element – A bold element can range from a gorgeous piece of art like a sculpture or painting to wallpaper or beautiful buffet/curio to a stunning light fixture.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Wesley Hall

6. Layer in Texture  – Adding texture softens all the hard surfaces of the table, chairs, buffets, and hard flooring.   Texture can be introduced with an area rug, drapes/window coverings, fresh flowers, live plants/trees, or textural decor.  In this photo fresh flowers on the table and upholstered furniture add texture.

7.  Add lighting – Don’t forget about lighting because it creates much need ambiance and light when necessary.  Table lamps on a buffet or sofa table look beautiful behind a table along with a stunning chandelier and/or sconces on the wall behind.

For more great ideas and photos, sign up for our weekly interior design blog here

Plus become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of the Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on Facebook or Instagram here!


Interior Design: Your Vote Counts!

K.C.s Best Interior Designer Award


Karen Mills' blog

Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels, LLC

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Even though you may have seen our design work featured recently in USA TODAY and ABC National News  we weren’t sure if you knew our firm Interiors by Design made it into the semi finals for Johnson County’s Lifestyle magazine’s BEST INTERIOR DESIGNER award since most of you only know me as Karen Mills.

Please take a minute (literally) to cast your vote here for our company Interiors by Design! (You can skip categories – we are #50)


Karen Mills' blog           Karen Mills' blog

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to those who nominated us and for your support by voting now!

P.S. We will have several projects featured in a new design book by an international publisher next spring so stay tuned for more details including how to get an advanced copy!

For more great design photos become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of the Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on Facebook here.

Interior Design: 3 Ways to Successfully Mix n Match Your Existing Furnishings


As an interior designer who’s designed or decorated over 1100 homes, I understand how overwhelming it can be for a homeowner to bring together their disparate furnishings to create a beautifully designed interior.  Read on for 3 steps you can take today to created a more finished look.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Horst by Hickory White

1. Repetition – To coordinate mismatched furniture or accessories I recommend tying them together by repeating a color from one piece to onto another like the pillow, rug, and art in this photo that helps unify the furnishings to create a beautiful interior design.  The branches, rug, artwork, and cloth fabrics also provide a welcome contrast to the hard surfaces of the floor, windows, walls, and table.


Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Marge Carson

2. Opposites Attract –  One great way to combine furnishings is by juxtaposing shiny finishes with dull, textural with smooth or formal with casual to give your room life and keep it interesting.   The upholstery, branches, stone formation, and rug contrast beautifully against the hard surface of the tables while the brown pillow on the sofa marries the sofa to the chair.

3. Size (and shape) Matters –  When creating vignettes of accessories in your space whether its for a tabletop or shelves, try to place objects of various heights, sizes, texture, and shapes together to create a cohesive whole like this photo, while keeping taller items at the back for a graduated look.   Pillows, artwork, and blue accessories bring together the color palette, while the yellow vases provide an unexpected pop of color.

Click here to watch one of my recent TV interviews with Gina Bullard on Better Kansas City on KCTV5 about how to create rooms with staying power


plus sign up for our weekly interior design and decorating blog here

and become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on Facebook here!

Interior Decorating: 3 Tips for Decorating on a Budget

Karen Mills' blog

Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels, LLC

Do you ever feel like your room is unfinished or undone?  Do you have all the furniture purchased for your room, but don’t know what to do next and you’re on a modest budget? Here are 3 ways I recommend as an interior designer to inject personality and interest to your space while staying on a reasonable budget.

  1. Add color   Color can be painted on walls, ceilings, furniture or even brought in with decor like this blue candle and pillow in this room.  Color may also be introduced with fabrics on draperies and throws or layered in with a rug.
Karen Mills' blog

Interior Decorating by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels

2. Inject pattern –  Introduce pattern with fabrics, draperies, or pillows like this photo of a nursery we decorated on a budget as a surprise for parents from Community America Credit Union.  The horizontal stripes of the wall done by the homeowners add dramatic pattern along with the draperies and row of frames we hung with the baby’s initials.

Karen MIlls' blog

Interior Decorating by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels, LLC


Karen Mill's blog

Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels, LLC

3. Layer in texture – Texture can come through rugs or throws like the room here along with pillows and draperies.  Additional texture was added in this room with the small marble tile mosaic inset in the fireplace surround.

In the photo of the nursery, texture was introduced with the pouf, area rug, and fuschia colored pillow.  And in the close up of the tray, texture is added with the shell, rope handle, and tray.

For more tips and photos, sign up for our weekly interior design blog here

Or become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on Facebook here!

Interior Design: What’s New & Next in Fabrics and Finishes

Karen Mills' blog

Kate Spade fabrics courtesy of Kravet Furniture

After attending several fall 2016 interior design markets  I wanted to share a few examples of what’s new and next in fabrics, patterns, and finishes.  The biggest trend I’m seeing?  Personalization!

Karen Mills' blog

Designer fabrics


Karen Mills' blog

Kate Spade design from Kravet fabric


Karen Mills' blog

Courtesy of Lee Industries

But bold colors, organic natural looks, antique reproductions and  patterns that allude to the 1970s or 1980s are still growing in popularity too.





These fun finishes I discovered can be used as tops for furniture.

Karen Mills'

Ralph Lauren fabrics

And I had to share these luscious classic Ralph Lauren fabrics that have been introduced in their fall collection.




Also loved this fabulous linen stripe from Italy by Schumacher.    Perfect for a beach house or for that type of design style.


For more great interior design photos and trends, sign up for our interior design blog here

Plus become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of the Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on Facebook now!

Color Trends 2017: A Global Perspective


A sea lion in the Galapagos Islands by Karen Mills

As I’ve watched the the interior design color trends 2017 unfold, I’ve been anxiously anticipating this year’s blog on color trends which I find to be one of our most popular blogs annually!  Last year I predicted white as color of the year and it has definitely dominated the interior design scene along with taupe grays and watery blue colors.

But this time instead of predicting my color choice for 2017 as usual, I wanted to give you a more global perspective on color trends 2017 based on my travels around the world including a trip to the Galapagos Islands where I got an opportunity to encounter this wonderful sea lion pictured at top that shows the burst of color coming next year.

Every year seems to bring a slightly broader palette of colors into the forecast and this year is no exception.  For 2017 Lea Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute gave a wide range of color predictions, but one of my favorite color groupings for spring is aptly named Florabundant  with bursts of fuchsia, green, and purple pink colors.

Karen Mills blog

Lea Eiseman of Pantone Color Institute

Karen Mills' blog

Italy trip – Karen Mills

Karen Mills' blog

New York City – Karen Mills

Karen Mills' blog

Benjamin Moore color of the year

Benjamin Moore narrowed their top color for 2017 to “Shadow”, a grayed out amethyst similar to the the purple colors in the Blue Mosque below where I visited in Istanbul.   Imagine how sexy that color could look in a dramatic living area or romantic bedroom.

Karen Mills' blog

Blue mosque – Karen Mills

Sherwin Williams decided to play it safe with a wonderful taupe color which as an interior designer, I love because of its ability to adapt to almost any color palette.  Sherwin Williams calls it ” modern and classic… a beautiful balance of warm and cool,”

Karen Mills' blog

Karen Mills' blog

National Geographic resort in Galapagos Islands by Karen Mills

Of course white will still be popular next year along with warmer shades of red, wine, purples, vintage pastels, greens, blues, and even yellow.

For more great color trends and interior design ideas, sign up for our weekly blog here

plus become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of Living Large, Karen Mills, on Facebook here!

Karen Mills' blog

Galapagos Islands – Karen Mills