Interior Design/Interior Decorating

The Home of the Future

An Interior Designer’s Tips for Building a Home That Can Adapt to Changing Needs

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Homeowners are looking for a home of the future that’s not only functional and healthy, but also flexible and inviting whether its a home office (or two) for work/school, a gym, coffee shop, entertainment area (home theater), or a place to vacation at home. Read on for my interior designer tips on how to make your home easily adapt to your future needs.

When you’re designing a new home consider first how to create a clean healthy environment. Some options to consider include:

– a floor plan with a mudroom/laundry area and shower just inside the garage door where family members can get cleaned up before entering the rest of the house

– a high quality air purifying system that removes toxins including viruses and bacteria

Karen Mills' blog

– bathrooms with all tiled walls and ceilings that can be hosed down when needed.

– a floor plan that allows great cross ventilation of fresh outdoor air and for sunlight to penetrate further into the home.

Click now to continue reading our City Lifestyle article here.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: A Historic Kansas City Kitchen Remodel

Are you dreaming of a kitchen like the after but your reality is the before?



As I toured this historic high rise condo on the plaza in Kansas City for the first time as an interior designer, the reality of the situation was bleak.  The condo hadn’t been updated for years and the maze of tiny crooked rooms  made it difficult to imagine the beautiful open kitchen it could be.  

maid’s room

To start I knew we had to enlarge the kitchen so we took over the tiny adjacent maid’s room shown above to gain a few more feet, knocking out that wall.

Our end goal was a large open inviting kitchen full of natural daylight that was classic like this historic high rise located in the famous Country Club Plaza so to start we tore down the existing entrance wall to open the kitchen up to the existing dining room and  resized the mismatched windows in each room to be more consistent. 

We also relocated the adjoining dining room to the over sized living area and made the former dining room a hearth area that opened into the kitchen.

To make the rooms feel more expansive but also timeless, we tore out the flooring in the kitchen and wove in new wood floors to match the existing wood flooring elsewhere.

Next we began to lay out a floor plan that included a gorgeous custom island along with designing custom flush mount European style cabinetry that was also functional and a lighting plan that would make the room pop.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills/Photography by 29Pixel Studios, LLC

On the right we designed a beautiful custom stove hood with lit glass cabinetry and large drawers underneath to hold pots and pans.  Plus we took the beveled subway tile to the ceiling to add height and drama to the space.

In the back we designed a pantry area that disguised the crooked structural wall and added doors that opened to reveal a coffee station and appliance storage along with additional glass lit cabinetry.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

On the left we created a bar area with a wine cooler, additional sink, and storage along with lit glass front cabinetry to hold glassware.

Karen Mills' blog

And on the island we added a thick mitered top to give the beautiful Cambria marble style top even more importance!

The result – a large open living/work space that lives large and is also functional.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 8 Ingredients of Timeless Design

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

 So if you would like to avoid trendy decorating and have a more enduring design too, here is an informative article I wrote for Houzz .  (Click link below to read)

8 Rooms with Staying Power

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid with Your…

Karen Mills' blog
Design by Karen Mills

One of our biggest fears as a homeowner is that we will make a costly mistake when remodeling, especially one that could cost thousands of dollars. Read on for 3 HUGE MISTAKES I see repeated over and over as an interior designer who specializes in bathroom remodels

  1. Poor Layout – One of the biggest keys when space planning your bathroom is to ensure it functions well for you. Not only do you need adequate space to move around and access what’s needed without bumping into things but you also want a beautiful bathroom that invites you in for a bathing experience. Here in this gorgeous custom bathroom, we added glass shower walls to make the space feel larger and lighter, while also creating a focal point beyond with a free standing tub and beautiful chandelier with plenty of space to maneuver around.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Too Trendy – Even though I love timeless spaces, I have to admit its fun to add a trendy element that’s new. But I only recommend adding a trendy finish if it either enhances the design and if its easily replaced without much expense like a back splash, wall paint, or light fixture.

In this lovely spa bathroom remodel not only did we open up the closed off spaces in this tiny master bathroom in a historic high rise, but we also went with a classic marble finish to create a more timeless look that could last for years instead of adding trendy accent tile that often dates a bathroom quickly.

Karen Mills' blog
Design by Karen Mills

3. Wrong Finishes – Wrong finishes can be anything from the wrong color, size, or pattern to how all the finishes (cabinetry, paint, tile, light fixtures, etc) come together to create a cohesive whole. The biggest problem I see as an interior designer are the homeowners who chose to do it themselves, but don’t have an eye for design. The final result? Thousands of dollars of investment in what may be beautiful cabinetry, tile, and lighting that just doesn’t play well together.

Here in this calming bathroom we selected finishes that were classic and simple in style to create a calm inviting space that will appeal for years to come.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

3 Tips for Keeping Home Sanitary

3 Steps You Can Take To Help Protect Loved Ones At Home From Germs Now

As an interior designer I know many of our clients are looking for a home environment that will make them feel secure, safe, and sanitary without giving up beauty. Read on to learn my suggestions on how to create a cleaner home environment now.

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  1. Purify the indoor air. To begin install a high quality air purifier that will clean the air in your home on a regular basis. Select an air purifier that will reduce airborne and surface contaminants along with dust and dirt that may include bacteria or viruses like the Vollara unit I recently used on a home project that even removed the smoke odors embedded in the drywall. But don’t stop there. Remember to bring fresh air into your interior every opportunity you get whiles also having your air ducts cleaned regularly.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Remove contaminants before entering your home. Begin by mounting a motion sensor activated disinfectant cleanser bottle directly on the wall in your garage near your interior door to sanitize your hands before entering your home.

Next place a shoe rack in the garage by your interior door for depositing shoes that have been contaminated or purchase a small disinfecting mat that you can step onto before entering your home. Leaving items in the garage that need to decontaminate for 24- 48 hours before being brought inside can also be helpful in keeping contaminants at bay.

Other ways to help keep yourself and your interior clean include placing the clothing you’re wearing into a nearby hamper or washing machine as your enter the house and proceeding directly to the shower to wash off.

In this master bathroom we designed for a high rise building, we included tile on floors and much of the walls that can be scrubbed clean along with an adjustable spray arm that make the cleaning process easier.

Lenova kitchen faucet with an ozone generator

3. Create a More Sanitary Interior. By keeping the inside of your home cleaner you increase the odds that you will stay healthier.

According to the press release by Lenova, their faucets are the first conventional faucet line that is also an ecologically safe way to clean food and any other water-safe surface without chemicals. A small, thin ozone generator uses regular house current to produce ozone water (aqueous ozone), a natural disinfectant 100 times stronger than chlorine that kills 99.9% of common viruses, bacteria and germs. Adding foot pulls at the bottom of frequently used interior doors provide additional peace of mind.

Nostalgic solid brass doorknobs

Other ways to keep your home more sanitary include having your home cleaned regularly, using the sanitize cycle on your dishwasher, and opting for washable materials such as washable indoor/outdoor rugs or bedding made with natural bedding like this master suite.

In summary by simply purifying your indoor air, removing all contaminants possible before entering the house, and keeping surfaces clean you can create a home interior that’s safer overall for the whole family. Click now to read this article on City Lifestyle magazines nationwide.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Recipe for a Successful Kitchen Design

The Secret Sauce for Cooking Up a Beautiful Kitchen While Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Interior design by Karen Mills

If you’re seriously considering remodeling your kitchen, read my suggestions as a kitchen designer here first before tearing out walls or hiring a contractor because your kitchen’s a huge investment that can cost thousands of dollars to correct or years of regret if you rush into it and hire someone who’s not reliable or does a poor job. 3 Reasons Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

First I recommend that you look for design inspiration in interior design magazines and online to get ideas of what you like so  you can effectively communicate your vision to the team you assemble.

Interior design by Karen Mills

Next make a list of items you absolutely must have in your kitchen and another list of things you would like to have.   If you’re not sure, start compiling a list as you use your kitchen everyday so your new kitchen will meet all your requirements.

Then hire an interior designer to show you how to layout a kitchen that’s both functional for your family and beautiful!   Some interior designers can be had for as little as one-two hours to review your ideas, plus they will have great resources for contractors, architects, and trades people to help you accomplish your goal. 3 Big Kitchen Trends for 2020

Kitchen designers that don’t serve also as the contractor can also serve as a trusted advisor who will help with selecting contractors, making it functional, creating flow, coordinating finishes, assisting with lighting, and advising on the latest storage options  to ensure your kitchen design looks great!  And if you can’t afford an interior designer for the whole project, I would at least hire an interior designer experienced with remodeling for a couple of hours to help you create a master plan.

Kitchen refresh by Karen Mills

In summary if you have a professional create a master plan that’s not only functional and beautiful with good flow and coordinating finishes, you will have a much higher chance of success and loving the kitchen you’re in!

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: What Your Decor Color Says About You

Tips for Injecting Your Favorite Color into Your Interior

Interior design by Karen Mills featured by Design Icons book

Did you know that your favorite color gives experts insight into your personality type? As an interior designer who’s been in over 1200 homes I can get an immediate sense of someone’s personality just by looking at the styles and colors of clothing in their closet or by walking through their home interior when we first meet.

You may be wondering how that’s possible, but all of us experience color in different ways as we progress through life creating an unique color story that’s all our own. Lea Eiseman, the world’s leading color expert and a regular guest on my former design show Living Large, shared why that’s true in one of her renowned color books, “…much of color knowledge is based on instinctive responses, cultural conditioning, and those aspects of color that we seem to absorb without much conscious thought.” Read on to gain insight about your favorite color, what it says about you, and ideas for injecting that color into your home’s interior.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills


If you love red like I do you live life to the fullest with a passion and intensity that others don’t possess. You’re exciting, daring, and spontaneous, but also have an inner drive to excel at everything you do. So how does that color translate into an interior design? The color red that we associate with blood, instantly raises your blood pressure and grabs your attention so remember that a little bit goes a long way in a room! 

In this great room orange red pillows and flowers pop against the white sofa creating an exciting tension and bold contrast, while the custom blue draperies we designed introduce a secondary color that’s cooler and more restful.

Alternately, soft pink lovers tend to be charming, peace loving, and romantic types who carry some of the same traits as the red/bright pink.

example of comfortable seating
Interior design by Karen Mills featured in Architecture Today Interior Design book


An extension of sky and water, blue exudes stability and calm making it a perfect color for bedrooms or other areas where you want to unwind and relax. Lovers of this color tend to be dependable, responsible citizens who do the right thing. No wonder blue still remains the favorite color of men!

In this close up photo of a family room we designed, a watery blue pillow and candle join forces with rustic beach elements – a shell and rope – to create a wonderful ocean vibe in this space. 


Yellow like a ray of sunshine portrays warmth, cheerfulness, and optimism making it a wonderful hue for a cheery kitchen, sunny living area, or any interior lacking sunshine and warmth. Huge fans of yellow are optimistic, warm, and playful, while also being inquisitive and encouraging to others. 

Interior design by Karen Mills featured in Design Icons book


As an orange enthusiast you share an enthusiastic zest for life, outgoing personality, sense of humor, bright outlook, and longing for adventure. Orange, known as the color of hunger, fits perfectly into a dining room or kitchen eat in area where you need some energy or more life. But that’s not all as you can see in this foyer where we sourced an original Mattini painting and pulled out the orange hue as as the main accent color on our custom designed rug, original ceramic art piece, and flowers, while also repeating a golden hue from the art on the wool rug and and handmade chevron wallpaper to add more interest.

Interior design by Karen Mills featured in Design Icons book


Green, the color of nature exudes calmness and warmth, which makes it a great color for bedrooms or spaces where you need a more relaxed feel like a sun room, den, or library.  Enthusiastic fans of green are usually warm, kind, and charitable people who like to give back to their communities. Green fans also bring stability and loyalty as additional attributes.

Here in this stunning foyer we designed that was featured in the international Design Icons book, we repeated the blue green plates with branches overlaid on the white shelves to create a dramatic but also calm entrance into this third floor foyer aptly named The Flat after our client’s London home.


A complex and creative type of individual, purple lovers are fascinating observant individuals who often have a generous spirit and artistic flair. Purple, the favorite color of most children, also has a mysterious air about it making it popular with artists or creatives too. In interiors purple usually works best as a light or a very dark almost neutral hue wall color or as an accent in any shade. 

Interior Design by Karen Mills featured in Architecture Today Interior Design Book


Brown personalities tend to be down to earth, stable, and in harmony with life around them, while still appreciating quality. Brown lovers like to keep things simple, secure, and peaceful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t cosmopolitan. Brown hues work great for your interior if you’re looking to create a grounded space that’s also cozy and inviting whether its a living room, dining room, den, or even a bedroom.

Beige, a lighter version of brown speaks of someone who is warm, reliable, and doesn’t often rock the boat. As a light neutral this color can be introduced almost anywhere including combining it with gray for a cool/warm color combination. 

Here in this stunning rustic great room we designed that was featured in the international book Architecture Today Interior Design, warm browns wrap around the room like a big hug, creating a welcoming feel.


Did you know that white is the sum of all other colors combined? Isn’t that amazing? As an interior designer I love that white can do so much in a room’s interior design from creating more contrast and bouncing light around a room to visually expanding it. But white also signifies innocence, cleanliness, and purity so you may notice that white hue lovers sometimes have the same characteristics in their neatly organized and well kept homes or crave the innocence of their youth.   

In this hearth area renovation we darkened the floors to contrast against the white walls and trim we introduced. Then we continued the white theme by slip covering dining chairs, upholstering arm chairs, layering in pillows with white backgrounds, putting in white/gray marble tile, and adding a table we had white washed that was formerly a door.


The gray personalities that I’ve experienced are content to be calm, cool, and collected. They prefer to stay out of the limelight, opting instead for safety, security, and practicality. That’s why I believe as an interior designer that gray color schemes have become so popular at home for years because this color creates a calm respite from the outside world and works well in almost every room.

In this gorgeous high rise master bathroom we designed, gray from the Italian marble style tile repeats again on the custom designed vanity and walls. White quartz counters, square knobs and a tiled wall enhance the look of this small but stunning space.


Don’t know if you aware of this little known fact, but black is completely void of color, the opposite of white. Of course we all know that the black suit signifies sophistication and status in the business world, but black color hue aficionados are also confident in their ability to hold a conversation, clever in their communication abilities, and make security a top priority in their lives. Black is a wonderful color for interiors, especially when combined with white and can used throughout your interior from living, dining, and powder rooms to home theaters, or on doors/trim to create a dramatic look.

So what if your favorite color is a combination of two colors. If that’s the case, simply combine the traits associated with each color for a picture of your personality.

To summarize, colors whether worn or used in your interior reveal insight into your personality and life story. And when you utilize your favorite color in your home it can bring back wonderful memories that cradle you in comfort whether its on the walls, ceilings, floors or furnishings. 

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If you feel someone you know could benefit from this helpful information, pass it on by clicking this link to City Lifestyle magazine where I originally posted this article, and then share or like it.

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Tips for Selecting Correct Size of Area…

How to Right Size Your Rug by Room

Interior design by Karen Mills

  1. Best Living Room Rug Size – When or calculating the ideal size for an area rug for your living room, try to find a rug that lays underneath ALL of your furniture in the room. But if you want to show off more floor or save money, you can also buy an area rug where only the front feet of your upholstered furniture sits on top of the area rug like shown here.
Karen Mills' rug sizing example
Interior design by Karen Mills

The last option and definitely least preferred by the interior design and rug community is to place a smaller rug in front of your sofa but not under the feet. Please note however, that this example is a larger rug that would actually work under the feet of the sofa and chairs nearby (not shown).

3 Tips for Getting Cozy with Area Rugs

Karen Mills' blog rug example
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Best Bedroom Rug Size – Interior design clients often have a difficult time understanding this concept but a bedroom area rug should be large enough that it can be laid perpendicular under your bed just up to the edge of the nightstands without sliding under them and still have a few feet showing at the bottom of the bed like shown.

Karen Mills' blog rug example
Interior Design by Karen Mills

3. Best Dining Room Rug Size – As an interior designer I often see rugs that are just too small under the dining room table. Calculating this rug size can be tricky because you want two feet on each side of the table for room to slide back the chairs, but also need to ensure the final rug size fits into your space like the one shown here.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 7 Steps to Designing a Room

Like any project that involves money, you need a budget or at least a range before you start. Do some research and bring in the experts  – an interior designer, contractor/builder, and architect  to give an estimated investment.  Then follow these 7 steps to create the room of your dreams!

Master bedroom retreat example
Interior design by Karen Mills
  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. Here in this bedroom we mixed a more contemporary transitional style with a rustic antique look. How to Mix up Furnishings to Create a Fresh New Look
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

 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. In this living room we selected a white, warm gray, and teal color scheme.

  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 interior design expert to help.

  4.  Set a timetable.   At this point you might want to bring in an expert – interior designer and contractor/builder to review your design plan/timetable because investing in a master plan can help avoid thousands of dollars in costly mistakes and a reasonable timetable helps reduce stress. 3 Big Design Mistakes We Make in Living Rooms


Karen Mills' blog
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. 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.

7.  Design furnishings

Furnishings may include rugs, window treatments, pillows, bedding or other items.  Also ensure you select art, finishes, and other decor needed. Here custom made pillow enhance the custom sofa and other decor.

In summary you need to determine your design style, color scheme, and floor plan to start. Then create a timetable, design cabinetry and custom furniture, select plumbing and flooring before even thinking about decorating.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips To Help You Choose the…

Suggestions for Selecting Paint Colors for Your Interior

Paint color, one of the biggest issue faced by homeowners starting an interior design or interior decorating project is often an overwhelming task so today I’ve broken it down into three manageable steps for you to implement. 3 Reasons Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

  1. View color swatches on a white background – When you’re ready to select paint colors for your interior, start by placing the color swatches on a solid white background to get a true reflection of the color before painting a large sample of the paint on your wall in the room where you want to paint. While making selections, ensure you’re wearing neutral clothing and don’t have bold colors nearby on walls or furniture that could reflect on your paint sample.
Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Kravet

2. Make your color selection during daylight light hours. And if its a cloudy day, look at the paint sample again on a sunny day to get the full range of changes that color will make as you transition from sunlight to cloudy to dark.  3 Color Scheme Options for Your Living Room

When selecting trim and ceiling paint colors, look to the lightest end of your paint strip for options along with whites. 

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Paint large swatches of your paint selection on a backed poster board – All too often I walk in as an interior designer and see clients who’ve painted a light neutral over another color on the wall and the original color is bleeding through or distorting the new color. Once you have the board painted, place it against a neutral white background so you can view it during both daylight and after dark.

 But what if you don’t even know where to start with paint colors. Then pull inspiration from your closet, artwork, or a rug, for example. Then let the fun begin!

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