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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Clever Ways to Disguise Your Flat Screen…

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Charles furniture

Let’s face it.  Even though we often love the convenience of a large flat screen TV, we don’t always want to showcase them because they can detract from our spaces.  As an interior designer, I rarely put TVs on display in living rooms, because they compete with the beautiful interiors we design.  So if you’re looking for a way to hide your television in the living room or family room, here is a link to a recent article I wrote on 7 Clever Ways to Conceal Your Flat Screen TV for Houzz.

https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/84546202/list/7-clever-ways-to-conceal-your-tv-in-the-living-or-family-room

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Steps to Picking the Perfect Color

 

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Lillian August

 Color, the biggest issue faced by homeowners starting an interior design or interior decorating project is often an overwhelming task so I’ve broken it down into three manageable steps for you today.

First and foremost, when you’re selecting colors, make sure that you’re viewing colors on a white background to get a true sense of the colors before placing them on a wall.   Don’t wear colors that might reflect back on those paint colors while you’re making selections because a red top, for example, could reflect red on a neutral color giving it a green cast.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Lillian August

Second, consider natural light along with artificial light in the room.  Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to two or three during daylight, paint large sections of each color on the wall and leave it up two to three days so you can view the colors in daylight and after dark.  For trim and ceiling paint colors, look to the lightest end of your paint strip for possibilities along with whites.  A good rule of thumb would be to pair warmer colors with off white trim and cool colors with white trim.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

Third,  even though you can marry two of almost any color together to create a color scheme, test the colors next to each other first to see if you like them and add a neutral color.  If you don’t know where to start with color, pull inspiration from a favorite item like artwork, a rug, fabric, jewelry or even nature and let the fun begin!

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Secrets to Buying a Quality Sofa…

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Lillian August for Hickory White

If you’re like most buyers, selecting a sofa is confusing and overwhelming because you have no idea how to select one that’a high quality, the right size, and a style that will last.  Read on for my five secrets to selecting a quality sofa with staying power that’s just right for you.

Pick the right size – Before shopping start by taking measurements of your room and the other furniture to be used.  Then create a floor plan that allows ample space for walkways (3-4 feet) between furniture groupings and walls.  Also take into consideration the height or scale of your room along with the other furniture to be used.  In addition all of us are unique in our proportions so selecting a sofa that fits your body is key to being comfortable long term on your sofa.  Considerations include sofa height, seat height, seat depth, and length if you’re planning to take an occasional nap.

Choose a style with staying power – The sofas with the most staying power often have simpler lines and less trendy details.  Avoid trendy looks that may look dated quickly.

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Photo courtesy of Baker furniture

Quality construction – Sofas of high quality often have similar attributes in how their frames, suspension, and cushions are made that not only helps them last longer and hold their shape but also be comfortable.  Such attributes may include frames made of kiln dried hardwoods, 8 way tied springs with several coils for suspension that you can feel under the seat cushion, corner blocking for frame reinforcement, mortise and tenon joints,  fabric patterns that line up at the seams and much more.

Karen MIlls' blog

Interior design by Karen Mills

Opt for a solid or tone on tone neutral color-  By opting for a solid fabric with little or no pattern, you’ll not only tire of the sofa less quickly but you’re also more likely to be able to re purpose your sofa as you change homes or interiors.

Select durable fabric –  High performance fabrics are becoming a big hit with interior designers because they won’t fade quickly and spills just bead up.  Other durable fabrics can include wool, velvet, some cottons or linens, acrylic, and some blends of natural/man made materials.

Karen Mills' blog

Photo courtesy of Bernhardt furniture

Select durable fabric –  High performance fabrics are becoming a big hit with interior designers because they won’t fade quickly and spills just bead up.  Other durable fabrics can include wool, velvet, some cottons or linens, acrylic, and  certain blends of natural/man made materials.

For more information on how to select a quality sofa for you, contact a qualified interior designer that serves your area.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

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.
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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.

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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.

Karen Mills' blog
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.

Karen Mills' blog
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.

 

Karen Mills' blog

 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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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.

Karen Mills' blog

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.

Karen Mills' blog
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.

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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