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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips for Creating a Beautiful Basement…

If you’re thinking about remodeling your basement, consider these 3 tips for creating a beautiful space that doesn’t feel like a typical basement design.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

1. Bring in the daylight.   When designing your basement, think about ways you can bring natural sunshine further into your space.  One of my favorite tricks?  Use french doors or glass windows going into the interior rooms that allow the sun to penetrate further and keep them open for entertaining to maximize space.

Other ways to bring in the light could include adding an a large daylight or above ground window, enlarging an existing window or by creating a walk up basement from a daylight basement if possible.

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

2. Give it importance.  Treat your basement space like you would a main level room.  Use drywall on the ceilings, add drapery panels over small windows to make them feel grand, and create focal points with architecture, color and/or interior design to give the rooms a “wow” feel. I personally prefer lighter wall colors in a basement that’s dark so it doesn’t feel a cave unless its a home theater area or wine cellar.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Beef up your artificial lighting.  By adding extensive artificial light with wall washers, accent lighting and/or directional strip lights in addition to your standard lighting, you’ll find that your basement feels more like an upstairs living space.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Ways to Warm up Your Contemporary…

Karen Mills
Photo courtesy of Design within Reach

One common complaint I often hear as an interior designer is that contemporary rooms are cold and uninviting.  But these spaces are becoming more popular because of their simple lines and often calming effect.  Below are 3 ways to warm up your contemporary style room.

1. Color not only warms up an interior but can also add drama like this room above where the lime green pillow provides a dramatic contrast against the blue sofa.  The live branches also warm up the room.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Charles

2. Live Elements are wonderful because they add life and energy to a space whether its a plant, flowers, fruit or other element.  As an interior designer, my favorite way to bring life to a space is by introducing flowers, especially exotic ones like orchids that can last for months.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Hickory White

3. Texture can be layered in throughout your room in a variety of ways. Here above the pillows, wall finish, and hanging branch warm up the room nicely along with the warmth of the area rug underneath.  Other creative ways to add texture include wood ceilings/walls, rustic finishes, draperies, and/or furnishings with a textural component.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 8 Steps to Follow for a Successful…

Like any project that involves money, you need a budget or at least a range before you start. Do some research or bring in the experts  – an interior designer, contractor/builder, and/or architect – to give an estimated investment.

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Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels, LLC
  1. Decide on a design style or mix of styles that will flow with your architecture and existing furnishings you will be re purposing.   As an interior designer in Kansas City, I always suggest clients select several photos of room designs they like and make sure any spouse or significant other involved agrees.

 

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 2. Determine your color scheme ensuring it coordinates with adjoining rooms and any                   existing furnishings to be used in the interior design.   If you have no idea, take a look in               your closet to see what colors you’re drawn too or pull colors out of an inspiration piece               such as art, a rug, or fabric.

  3. Create a floor plan so you know what fits in your space and the sizes you need.   To do that       go online and use space planning software or get an expert to help.

  4.  Set a timetable.   At this point you might want to bring in an expert – interior designer                  and/or contractor/builder- to review your design plan/timetable because investing a                      few dollars for a master plan and viable timetable can help avoid thousands of dollars in              costly mistakes from bad decisions or huge delays.    

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Interior design by Karen Mills. Photo by 29 Pixels, LLC

5. Design and order custom furniture and any built in cabinetry after consulting with your        interior designer or tradespeople if you’re managing the project yourself.    At this point all          custom designs need to be finalized and ordered.   In addition permits need to be pulled for        construction.

6.  Select and order all plumbing, flooring, tile, and general lighting needed.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills/ Photo by 29 Pixels, LLC

7.  Design any custom draperies, bedding, rugs, wall/floor/ceiling finishes, or pillows                 needed along with choosing hard window coverings, light fixtures, and any ready                 made furnishings.    Then order.

8.  Purchase artwork, hardware pulls, lamps, and all other furnishings needed.

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Space…

Karen Mills' blog

 

When I daydream about the beach, it’s usually one of my favorite vacations like this one on St. John’s island with great views, fabulous restaurants, and wonderful friends.
When you’re planning your own outdoor space, why not recreate one of your favorite vacation spots that you can enjoy in your own backyard whenever the weather permits.   I did and here are my 3 tips accomplishing that.
Tip #1  Create a dedicated space outdoors with the feel of a room – floors and maybe a ceiling or walls.  Then add seating and possibly a table for meals.
Here in this photo above, the floors are tiled and a roof lingers overhead along with pillars that become the walls of the space.
In my own backyard, I designed a pergola to recreate that look but made one that was my own style.  I still mimicked the round pillars at St. John’s and a partial roof overhead for a similar feel. Then I layered in palm trees and tropical flowers to recreate the laid back island vibe.

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2. Select a look or style that reminds you of one of your favorite vacations.  To accomplish that look in my own backyard space, I mixed in found antique metal seating fitted with custom white cushions along with a couple of new wicker chairs to achieve a more collected aesthetic. Then I threw in a weathered old trunk on wheels for a coffee table and placed a tray of shells from diving trips and walks on the beach on top.
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3. Add a specific element that reminds you of your favorite spot.  That element for me was a touch of romance so we added LED lights at the top of the pillars to create a wonderful ambiance at night and accessories in turquoise to remind us of the blue blue ocean.
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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips for Creating a Sophisticated Rustic…

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by Nick Schale

The romantic lure of the rustic style home or cabin is undeniable.  Maybe its because of our rich heritage of building log cabins to protect our families from the weather. Or maybe its the way rustic homes connect us with the outdoors with their rough hewn beams, simple style, and organic materials like stacked stone fireplaces.

But even though we still love our rustic home, sometimes we crave furnishings that are more refined and luxurious to offset the rugged architecture for that perfect mix of masculine and feminine.  If that’s you, here are my 3 tips as an interior designer to help you create a beautiful blend.

  1. Select a muted color scheme that picks up the hues reflected in your finishes.  By picking up existing colors in the home’s architecture for the furnishings, the overall design style is strengthened and the furnishings connect better with the hard surfaces .  Here in this photo, we pulled out the beautiful gray blue and taupe color scheme from the hues found in the stone fireplace.   By selecting furniture with a softer hand and more luxurious feel, the room also took on a more timeless complex look that adds interest.

Layering in an area rug with an organic pattern in those same hues brings everything                   together while the lighter colors of all the furnishings help bounce around much needed               light in the room.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Keep it simple  Because of the rugged nature of the rustic interior, to create a sophisticated feel its important to balance the mega sized fireplace, wood columns, and other rough elements with furnishings with cleaner lines and softer edges to create the perfect balance of rugged and sleek.  Here the softer lines of the sofa and tables help balance the rough hewn fireplace and stone columns.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by Nick Schale

The same is true with this family room where the textural pillows, shag rug, and airy swivel chairs add texture and light to the darker hard surfaces of the fireplace, floors, and leather sofa.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Layer in organic materials that coordinate with the room’s rugged finish to soften room such as natural cottons as seen in the bedding and the casual fabrics on the chairs.  The textural rug also adds light and interest to the room.

 

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Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by Nick Schale

A beautiful simple pale blue shimmery wallpaper in an organic pattern provides a nice juxtaposition against the stone columns and paneled wood ceiling.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: How to Make Your Room Live Larger…

If you love acrylic furniture check out the Associated Press article I was recently featured in that’s already made appearances in ABC, The Washington Post, Yahoo and many more titled  Clear Favorite: Acrylics a Versatile Furniture Option .

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Interior design by Karen Mills, photography by Nick Schale

Our project in this photo that was part of the Associated Press article shows how acrylic furniture can be used in a room effectively which I also talk about in the interview link above.

 

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Photo courtesy of Allan Knight furniture

Coffee tables and nesting end tables are one of my favorite pieces to use in a project too, especially in a smaller space like this photo  where they don’t take up room visually but still serve a function.

Karen Mills
Photo courtesy of Century Furniture

Dining rooms like this photo offer another opportunity to include acrylic whether its the table, chairs, or a bar cart.   Here the Century table almost disappears in the room keeping the space light and airy.

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Photo courtesy of Spectrum Limited furniture

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Tips for Injecting Spring into Your…

The first day of spring has arrived in the United States and it’s a joyous time for most of us in the colder climates because it marks the end of a season of cold, ice, and snow.

 

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Charles

As I walked through my yard this last weekend I saw green buds appearing everywhere from bushes and trees to perennials.   So of course that motivated me to perform my semi-annual tradition of packing up heavy winter decor and ushering in spring with lighter decor.  If you would like to lighten your interior too, here are 5 tips for injecting spring into your home.

  1. Add life with fresh flowers and seasonal plants like this photo by Jonathan Charles furniture above.  Lighter finishes also help enhance the spring feel of this room along with an infusion of sunlight.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills. Photography by 29 Pixels.

2. Add fresh pops of color in pillows and decor like the room above.  The shell and lantern beach inspired decor also add to the warm season feel.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Charles

3. Replace dark heavy items like rugs with lighter options  like shown above or go with a natural rug like a sisal.  If that’s not possible, opt for removing the rug altogether.

Light pillow covers in natural fabrics also add to the appeal along with fresh flowers and light upholstery.  If you don’t have light upholstery, consider adding a slipcover for spring/summer weather like the dining chairs we had slip covered below.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills
Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Circa Lighting

4. Lighten up in the bedroom by replacing heavy dark bedding with light natural fabrics in cotton and consider using sheer drapery panels instead of heavy drapes.

5. Spring Clean  Remove all the extra items that have accumulated over the winter months and do some spring cleaning so your room feels fresh and fabulous.  Now you’re ready for spring!

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips for Warming up Modern Living…

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Design within Reach

As I’ve matured as an interior designer I’ve come to love clean simple design that stands on it’s own.  Of course it’s much more difficult to attain a modern look because each piece of the design has an important role and you don’t want the room to become sterile.    So if you’re looking for more simplicity in your life without sacrificing warmth, here are 3 tips for creating an inviting contemporary look.

  1. Add texture to your room.  In this living space shown above a  textural rug was layered underneath to ground the seating area along with a throw, books, and plant.  Textural fireplace tile, art, and wood logs also add more interest to the room.

In this modern contemporary living room below texture is introduced through the fabrics on      the upholstery and pillows along with the sisal and fur rugs underneath.  Wood furniture also      plays a key role in adding warmth.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of All Modern
Karen Mills
Photo courtesy of Design within Reach

2. Introduce live elements like the branch cutting shown in this living room create a more inviting feel.  Other live elements you can introduce include fruit, flowers, and plants.  Pops of color also help warm up this living room along with a book, art, and color.

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Photo courtesy of Design within Reach

3. Use Color  to warm up a room especially if its a orange sofa like the space above.  The tree in the corner, wooden spools, and pillow also add warmth to the room.

Karen Mills
Photo courtesy of All Modern

In this modern living room above the leather chair, pillows and sofa all add texture and warmth along with the rug and wood topped coffee table.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Ways to Use a Vessel Sink…

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Link a Sink

Vessel sinks add energy to a bathroom’s interior design because they’re elevated to a place of importance on top of the vanity.  And they add style with their unique shape, color, pattern, finish, or material!

Vessel sinks come in an array of materials from stone or ceramic to glass, metal, wood, and more so the options are endless considering that you can also have an artist create an one of kind piece for you.

So if you’re considering redoing your bathroom to include a vessel sink, here are 5 ways to incorporate them in your bathroom design.

1. To enhance your design   In the photo above, the vessel sink by Link a Sink plays a wonderful supporting role in this dramatic powder room design, keeping the room from getting too busy.  But if you have a more neutral bathroom without much pattern or color, a  vessel with an interesting shape could be the perfect solution.

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Photo courtesy of Signature Hardware
Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Copenhagen Sinks

2. To add texture

By adding a rougher finish like this carrara marble sink show above by Signature Hardware to a bathroom full of hard shiny surfaces, you can make it more inviting .

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Kraus

3. To introduce color  

In the photo above this blue vessel sink by Kraus offers an exciting pop of color for neutral bathrooms.   I’m particularly fond of the faucet shown with it designed by a former Mercedes Benz designer to look like an auto stick shift.

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Photo courtesy of Copenhagen Sinks

For more great tips 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 here.

 

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Tips for a Budget Kitchen Makeover

 

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

If you want to update your tired old kitchen but don’t want to invest in a full remodel, here are 5 tips for freshening up your kitchen for less.

1. Refurbish your existing kitchen cabinets.   If your cabinets are in good shape and not too dated, sand, repaint and seal them.   In this kitchen above we painted the cabinets different colors, added a mitered (thicker) edge island counter top, and replaced some upper cabinets with live edge shelving to create a more interesting look.

If your cabinet door styles are dated, have them refaced with new doors and fronts.  You can also add glass inserts, replace your dated moldings and add crown molding overhead to completely transform them.   Plus pull out those dated appliance garages housed in the corner.

2. Replace your dated or worn appliances with more updated ones you can find for less in a clearance section or replace appliance fronts only if that updates the look.  In this kitchen above we also painted the cabinets, added a vintage chandelier the homeowner already had for a Hollywood Glam feel along with new light fixtures above the table which she had finished to a more grayed out rustic look.

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Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29 Pixels

 

3. Update your hardware finishes  by replacing pulls or knobs, your sink faucet, and light fixtures.  If you don’t have the budget for new light fixtures, have your old ones spray painted or do it yourself.

4. Replace your dated counter tops and back splashes ensuring you add under cabinet lighting to show them off.

5. Refurbish your existing floors by refinishing hardwoods or by replacing flooring with stone tile found on clearance and install yourself.  As an interior designer, I’ve used faux wood tile more than once on kitchen remodels to create a cozier rustic feel when wood isn’t an option.

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