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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Living Room

An Interior Designer’s Tips for Creating a Living Space That’s Both Attractive and Functional

Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Introduce a neutral color palette of furnishings in varying textures and colors instead of opting for all matching furniture. In this great room design we designed custom furniture in varying shades of warm grays to contrast nicely against existing antiques the homeowners wanted to keep to create interest. A mix of textures, color, and cozy seating enhance the look.
Karen Mills' blog rug sizing example
Interior design by Karen MIlls

2. Create a little drama by contrasting light finishes with darker ones. In this great room design we opted for lighter upholstered custom furniture and rug to create a noticeable contrast between the furniture and hard finishes like flooring, tile, and stone. An interesting combination of styles, finishes, and shapes add to this interior designed living room.

3. Layer in texture. Texture can be achieved with fabrics, plants, flowers, and/or a variety of finishes such as wood or metal. In this living space, we introduced different textures through pillow fabrics, an accessory made of rope, metal tray, glass vase/bowl, and wood tables to create an interesting mix that looks collected instead of staged.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

4. Space plan your room to create cozy conversational areas. In this living room we designed a conversational grouping of seating around a fireplace to draw visitors in to sit down and relax.

Interior design by Karen Mills

5. Add pops of color. In this outdoor living room we introduced pops of color to this space with blue and orange to create more interest and drama. A variety of textures – wicker, metal, wood, stone, and fabric also add to this beautifully designed porch.

If you’re looking for more custom interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, ideas, and photos, sign up for our weekly interior design blog here or contact us now at 913.764.5915.

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Hot Bathroom Remodel Trends for 2021

An Interior Designer’s Tips for What’s Hot in 2021 for Master Bathroom Design

Interior design by Karen Mills

Zero Entry (Curbless) Oversized Glass Showers continue to rise in popularity because they visually expand size of your bathroom while also providing a more universal space that’s safer and more usable whether you’re recovering from surgery or are aging in place and want to avoid tripping over a curbed shower.   

Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Bold Contemporary Chandeliers not only make a grand statement in your bathroom renovation but they also can update your look by bringing in an unexpected element whether its a more artistic piece or modern like shown here.

Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Marble Tiles never go out of style and bring a timeless appeal to your bathroom that will last for years whether its a classic gray and white or more contemporary color.

If you’re looking for more custom interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, ideas, and photos, sign up for our weekly interior design blog here or contact us now at 913.764.5915.

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Remodel Workbook: Master Bath

5 Critical Steps and Timely Tips for Planning Your Bathroom Remodel From an Interior Designer’s Perspective

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Lenexa interior design by Karen Mills

1. Get Inspired – As an

I always recommend that you find at least three photos of bathrooms that you love because they will reveal your style preferences.

Since our clients were inspired by the beach, a favorite vacation destination of theirs, we designed their master bathroom remodel around a color scheme of watery blues, white, sandy beige, and warm rustic grays including the sandy colored wood look tile on the floor.

Click here to read our blog post 3 Ideas for Luxury Bath Design with Free Standing Tubs

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Kansas City interior design by Karen Mills

2. Evaluate Your Needs -Now that you’re motivated to get started on your bathroom remodel, its time to step back for a bit and decide what’s most important to you from a functional standpoint. If you’re not sure think about-

A. What can you do to make your space more functional for you??

B. Why are you remodeling in the first place?

C. Do you need to move plumbing? If not, that can mean big savings.

D. Will you be aging in place (retiring) in this bathroom?

E. What are your priorities – tub, shower, or both?

In this bathroom, we needed to enlarge the usable space in the closet area and since there wasn’t room for pocket doors we layered in barn doors which also added a fun unexpected design element.

Click here to read our blog post How to Remodel a Tiny Bathroom into a Visually Larger Space

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Kansas City Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Determine a Budget – Now its time to decide how much you can invest into your bathroom remodel. I always suggest to our interior design clients to consider the house value, neighborhood, how long they will stay in the house, and resale.

If you have no idea of costs, you can go online to get a rough idea but remember that many online companies post estimates that are way too low and that’s why I recommend that you reach out to a professional to get a better idea.

In this master bath remodel located in a million dollar high rise apartment on the plaza we needed to create a wow look on a reasonable budget so I covered the floors and walls with a marble look tile from Italy to give it a wow when you walked in the bathroom.

Karen Mills' blog
Hand sketch by Karen Mills

4. Reach Out to Professionals – Now that you’ve gotten an idea of your style, figured out your needs, and determined a budget, its time to reach out to a professional interior designer who specializes in bathroom remodels so they can create a design concept, often using sketches, finishes, and floor plans, to help you visualize the final project while also helping you determine if your budget will work or not.

Then reach out to a contractor and/or architect to give you a remodel budget estimate based on your design and schedule a time to start your project.

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Overland Park interior design by Karen Mills

5. Finalize Design and Select Finishes– Now that you’ve found inspiration, determined your needs, set a budget, and contacted a professional interior designer, its time to finalize everything that’s part of your project including paint colors, flooring, plumbing, tile, back splash, mirrors, light fixtures and more.

Click here to read our blog post about the 3 Biggest Mistakes We Make in the Bathroom

If you’re looking for more custom interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, 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 
INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK here!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Mistakes to Avoid in a Kitchen…

Tips for Creating a Functional and Beautiful Kitchen Design

If you’re thinking about remodeling or designing your kitchen read on to learn about some of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when designing a kitchen.

Karen Mills' blog
  1. Work Area Not Functional – Creating a functional layout is the first step to kitchen design whether you’re designing for a new home or doing a kitchen remodel. Here in this kitchen a work area with the stove, refrigerator, and sink easily accessible within a few steps of each other makes cooking easier and less frustrating.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Wasting Potential Storage – Countless storage options exist so there’s no reason to waste space in the kitchen especially with the adaptive kitchen storage units that make drawers and cabinets more functional from trash pullouts to roll out shelves. Here in this fabulous historic Walnuts condo where space is at a premium, we added pegged drawers under the stove for pots/lids, hidden pop open storage under the island. and used the extra space we gained straightening out a crooked back wall to create a coffee bar and pantry cabinet that’s draws you into the space.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design and remodel by Karen Mills

3. Work Area Too Crowded- As an interior designer I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve walked into a home that didn’t have enough work space. Even though the recommended distance between an island and wall cabinetry is at least 42″ I usually I find that the minimum required distance of 36″ is often the reality of existing kitchens which creates a cramped space that’s not very functional. Other issues I often encounter with interior design clients who have existing kitchens already are drawers or refrigerator doors can’t open fully to function correctly.

Here in this kitchen we widened the walking area and made sure counter space was provided where needed whether to set down groceries, place dishes from the dishwasher or a space to simply bake a pie.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

4. Lack of right lighting –  If your new kitchen doesn’t have a mix of general, task, and accent lighting, it will tend to be a little lackluster in appeal and possibly function too. Here in this kitchen design, I created a kitchen with can lights in the ceiling for general lighting, puck lights tucked away inside the glass cabinets for accent lighting, plus introduced mini chandeliers over the island that not only provide accent lighting but also task lighting for working in the kitchen.

5. Not bringing in a professional –  Hiring a professional kitchen designer with experience who creates kitchens and bathrooms for a living can help you avoid costly mistakes, free up your time, and create the space of your dreams, while ensuring your space is functional. In this kitchen refresh where we reused most of the existing cabinetry, we were able to introduce new elements that created a wow factor – bigger airy light fixtures open shelving, counters that continued up the wall, a mitered edge island counter top, and bold cabinetry colors. The result? A fresh new look that showed off our client’s creative spirit while ensuring the space would function well for them.

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

Become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer and former host of the Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on 
INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK here!

Or give us a call at 913.764.5915 to discuss your kitchen project.

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 7 Biggest Mistakes We Make in the…

Insightful Tips From an Interior Designer for Creating a More Inviting Entry

Interior design by Karen Mills

When it comes to interior design often the entry is overlooked even though it makes a huge impact on every new visitor coming through the door.  As an interior designer I tell my clients to think of their foyer as an advertisement for their home and what’s to come. At a minimum an entry should hold a few of your favorite things and introduce the color scheme for your home’s interior design, while also revealing a little bit about your personal style. Read on for 7 simple ways to create a beautiful foyer of your own.

  1. Introduce a Statement Piece of Furniture  – Begin with a piece of furniture that fits easily in your entry such as a sofa table, chest, small desk, or curio. Or emphasize existing architectural features like the built in shelves and bench shown in this foyer. Here the blue green plates add drama to the shelves, while adding a pop of color to help emphasize the dreamy skies beyond.
  2.   Freshen Up with Live Flowers or a Plant – Nothing adds life to a space more than living things from flowers and plants to fresh fruit. But if live plants aren’t feasible, opt for dried branches or another textural element to bring the outdoors in like shown here.
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Layer in Artwork or a Mirror – Introducing artwork can add texture and reveal a bit of your personality like this original contemporary Mattini painting that’s a mix of musical instruments and sets the color scheme for the room. The mirror here is not only functional but also makes a style statement and bounces light around the room. The antique table underneath sourced from the south of France, provides an interesting juxtaposition against the hand made chevron wallpaper and contemporary sculpture in front of it.

4. Ground Your Entry with a Rug – Layering a rug underneath adds warmth, color, and style to your foyer as you can see in this spectacular foyer in Mission Hills.

5. Light it up With a Lamp – Lamps not only provide function and ambiance, but they can introduce more style to a space like this little black dress of a gold lamp oozes with class and style.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills featured in Architecture Today Interior Design book

6. Replace Your Overhead Lighting Here in this entry a transitional chandelier (not shown) adds emphasis to this dramatic space while a light hearted Moroccan motif lamp keeps it fun.

7. Tell a Color Story – The colors you introduce in the foyer should reveal the color palette to come in your living spaces beyond. Here we placed a family’s beloved heirloom chest front and center and layered in an existing painting overhead that introduced all the colors in the interior from dreamy blues and whites to warm grays, , while also repeating the brown black color of the chest. A blue vase reinforces the color scheme along with the lamp color.

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

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

And for more foyer inspiration, click here to read my Houzz interior design article on Color Palettes for Pleasing Entryway

or my budget tips titled Refresh Foyer for Less

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Tips for Remodeling a Tiny Master Bath…

A Case Study of an Interior Designer’s Transformation of a Tiny Cramped Bathroom into a Modern Day Miracle

Master bath before remodeling

As an interior designer I think you will find this master bath remodel quite amazing not only because of the transformation of this historic brick high rise built in the early 1900s, but also because of how it visually lives so much larger in the same size space.

When we entered the master bath shown here the space was chopped up by a walled in shower placed in the middle of the room making the space feel cramped, small, and unattractive.

Karen Mills' blog
Master bath remodel before

To the right of the shower was a  dimly lit dressing area with a small amount of storage that didn’t function well.

To solve this interior design dilemma we ripped out everything but one small closet and started over.  By pushing back the shower we gave the bathroom a bigger sense of volume and were able to expand the vanity to accommodate two people instead of one.

Karen Mills' blog
MASTER BATH AFTER

As you can see the transformation was amazing!  By placing the same marble style tile from Italy on the floor and walls the room suddenly visually expanded into a beautiful timeless space with an over sized shower for two.  To help the bathroom live even larger we also eliminated the shower curb and placed a solid glass panel along the front so the shower space virtually disappears.

Karen Mills' blog
Hand sketch by Karen Mills

For the former dressing area I designed a double vanity that also included usable top drawers that wrapped around the plumbing for more storage. 

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills



The result? A gorgeous bathroom that ended up in Kitchen Bath Design News – the national design magazine for kitchens and baths.

Looking for more great bathroom design ideas that you can implement?
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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: You Know You Need to Hire a…

How to Avoid Costly Mistakes with Your Interior Design, Decorating, or Remodeling/New Build Project

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After completing over 1200 interior design and decorating projects as an interior designer I’ve learned a thing or two about how people think and at what point they usually call for help, which is often too late. So today I’m going to reveal those times when you definitely need to hire an interior designer to avoid costly mistakes, have regret, or end up with an interior design that’s either not functional, ugly or both. Read on for my 7 tips for knowing when it’s time to hire an interior design firm for your project.

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  1. You know you need to hire an interior designer when you’re on the verge of divorce from fighting about about your project. You may laugh at this reason why but I have to tell you that our interior design firm gets called on frequently to quietly settle disputes while also helping clients come up with a plan that works for everyone.
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2. You know you need an interior designer when you’re about to make a large furniture purchase you will regret the rest of your life. Interior design firms not only help you design your interior but they also help you avoid costly mistakes by ensuring the furniture purchased is better quality, functional, and a good fit for your body type unless throw away furniture is what you want.

a. poor quality – Most people mistakenly believe that because a furniture store is expensive or popular that they have quality furniture not realizing that often much of the company’s investment goes towards advertising instead. Interior design firms check not only the quality of the frames of upholstered furniture but also ensure the fabric will hold up in your space.

b. wrong size – Can’t tell you how many times clients have asked me to resolve their space planning dilemma when its too late because the furniture they just purchased doesn’t fit into the room or through a doorway like the basement.

c. doesn’t fit – Have you ever purchased a sofa or chair only to find out too late that it doesn’t fit your body type or its uncomfortable? Unfortunately that’s one of the most common mistakes I see clients make that interior designers help you avoid.

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3. You know you need to hire an interior designer when the bad color choice(s) you made are still on the walls. Interior design firms use their expertise and experience with color to help you make better color choices that flow with your designed interior overall.

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4. You know you need to hire an interior designer when you are second guessing your decor selections in the middle of a project like a remodel, new build, or decorating project.

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5. You know you need an interior designer when you know what you like but have no idea how to put the interior design project together

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6. You know you need an interior designer when your space hasn’t been updated for 15-30 years because you can’t make a decision. That’s what interior design firms call analysis paralysis and it simply means you need a professional to help guide you through the process.

For more inspiration, ideas, and photos, sign up for our popular weekly interior design blog here with subscribers in over 130 countries.

Plus become a fan of Kansas City’s interior designer, former host of the Living Large interior design show, Karen Mills, on 
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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Hot Kitchen Trends for 2021

What to Consider Before Remodeling Your Kitchen From an Interior Designer’s Point of View

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Cabinetry colors trends ranging from timeless white and light stained wood to a dark painted color like shown in this kitchen bar area where we contrasted iron ore painted cabinetry on the exterior with a light warm stained wood on the interior of the glass upper cabinets to make it more interesting and dramatic. Contrasting colors on the wall cabinetry and island also add to the fresh new look.

2. Upgraded plumbing, accessories, or hidden storage ranging from touchless faucets and cutting boards or racks offered as an add on to kitchen sinks to built in coffee makers and cabinetry storage options are becoming increasingly important as we spend more time in the kitchen.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Restaurant like amenities that make being at home more enjoyable may include a built in coffee bar like the one tucked away in the gray cabinetry we designed at back of this kitchen or a wine bar similar to the one shown on the left that includes everything you need to serve wine from a temperature controlled wine fridge to glass fronted storage for wine glasses and hidden storage for everything else.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

Other popular restaurant like amenities that I’ve noticed as an interior designer include a dedicated baking area like this one in the back niche of the kitchen we designed for our interior design client to create delicious creations for her family and friends.

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

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Steps to Space Planning Your Living…

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Interior design by Karen Mills

Do you ever feel frustrated or lost when it comes to deciding how to place your furniture in the living room? Read on for my tips as an interior designer on how to space plan your room to be both functional and appealing.

  1. Make it Functional – The first question I ask interior design clients who want our firm to space plan their living room is how they will use the room and what they need in the room to accomplish that. For example how much seating do you need daily? And if you entertain often how many people do you need to accommodate? Other questions to ask yourself is what else do you want to do in the living room? If you’re reading a book you will need a lamp nearby and if you’re eating or drinking, tabletops will be critical for placing glasses or plates down. In this great room we designed, a coffee table and sofa table provide surfaces to place items on while a nearby end table holds a much needed lamp.
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2. Determine Your Focal Point – In this outdoor living room the focal point is the fireplace we placed front and center in the design of the porch, but if you don’t have a fireplace or great outdoor view, you can create one with a vignette. A vignette is a grouping of furnishings created to make a focal point such as a table, artwork, and lamp arranged together.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Place your sofa or largest upholstery (seating) facing your focal point to give it more emphasis or importance.  Here in this great room design we placed the sofa facing the fireplace because it’s the focal point and your eye naturally goes to where the largest piece of upholstery is facing. Two more pairs of chairs flank the sofa, adding more emphasis and a cozy atmosphere, while the rug we layered underneath creates a cohesive pulled together look.

Karen Mills' blog

4. Make your furniture arrangement inviting and cozy, but not crowded. In this living room the sofa is facing a focal point, the view out the window. A round ottoman helps create a more spacious feel while the chairs are angled to mimic the shape of the ottoman while still being a part of the intimate seating arrangement that makes the space planning a success.

3. Place your sofa or largest upholstery (seating) facing your focal point to give it more emphasis or importance.  Here in this great room design we placed the sofa facing the fireplace because it’s the focal point and your eye naturally goes to where the largest piece of upholstery is facing. Two more pairs of chairs flank the sofa, adding more emphasis and a cozy atmosphere, while the rug we layered underneath creates a cohesive pulled together look.

4. Make your furniture arrangement inviting and cozy, but not crowded. In this living room the sofa is facing a focal point, the view out the window. A round ottoman helps create a more spacious feel while the chairs are angled to mimic the shape of the ottoman while still be part of the intimate seating arrangement that makes the space planning a success.

5. Layer in tables and an area rug underneath. Tables are critical in your room both for holding lamps to provide ample lighting and for placing glasses, plates, or other items in your possession. In this hearth living space we remodeled, we faced the sofa towards the fireplace or focal point. Then we flanked matching chairs on each side of the fireplace to further emphasize the it as the focal point. Next we layered in functional tables and a comfortable rug underneath to bring the furnishings into a cozy grouping.

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/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 4 Tips for a Kitchen Refresh

If a kitchen remodel isn’t in your future because of either lack of budget or not recouping your investment in your current home, then why not consider what I like to call as an interior designer a KITCHEN REFRESH! Read on for my 5 tips for giving your kitchen a budget friendly makeover below.  

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Interior design by Karen MIlls

1.Paint both your kitchen cabinets and walls to give your entire space a fresh new look. In this kitchen refresh the dated stained cabinetry and dark walls were painted much lighter white colors that bounced light across the room, making it appear larger. Dark counter tops were also replaced for light ones.

To save money and not waste perfectly good granite our client re purposed the darker counters to a new basement bar where they were a perfect fit! Then to bring in more light we installed an existing chandelier the client loved and added new mini chandeliers over the eating area where we had the door repurposed as a tabletop painted and slip covered the existing dark leather dining chairs. The transformation was amazing!

Karen MIlls' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2.Replace your dated back splash along with counter tops – After working on over 1300 interior design projects we’ve realized that most homeowners planning a budget kitchen remodel typically omit replacing their back splash. Unfortunately an old back splash instantly reveals just how old the kitchen is and that’s why as an interior designer I recommend replacing it at the the same time.

In this playful and creative Leawood kitchen makeover, we replaced the dark granite counter with white mitered (thick) quartz counters on the island and ran the same quartz up the walls behind the cabinetry instead of traditional backsplash tile to add drama and interest. Then we painted the existing cabinets three different shades of gray, added new mini chandeliers, and tore down a few upper wall cabinets so we could layer in live edge shelves to create a fun focal point.

3. Introduce new counter or bar stools  In addition to the new live edge shelves the client in this kitchen purchased contemporary counter stools that really pop against the gray and white color scheme while adding a little warmth with the wood tone. New stools that contrast against your island or peninsula can have a huge impact on your kitchen without a big investment.

4. Replace dated chandeliers or pendant lights – By updating your light fixtures you can make a great impression walking into your kitchen where the fixtures are usually front and center over an island or table like shown here.

To help these new mini chandeliers and the drum shade beyond in the hearth area blend seamlessly with the existing chandelier in this Overland Park kitchen the client wanted to use in this space, we went with lighter finishes – champagne on the mini chandeliers and silver on the drum shade.

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