Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Enduring Bathroom Trends

How to Design a Timeless Style Bathroom That’s More Functional For All the Stages of Our Lives

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Accessible Zero Entry (Curbless) Shower – A truly functional bathroom shower will accommodate everyone in the family no matter what the situation from post surgery to broken bones or aging in place where an assist device might be required such as a wheelchair or similar item.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Ease of Use A bathroom that functions well for everyone whether they’re a small child, someone needing assistance – even if it’s from breaking your leg skiing, or someone wanting to age in place it’s critical for a bathroom to stand the test of time. Here in this bathroom shower we included attractive grab bars that look like towel bars that provide support when needed, an adjustable shower head that will lower to shower a kid, pet, or someone sitting down and clear access to the shower along with a wider entrance (not shown) to the bathroom. (Please note that a swinging glass door can be added to this shower to hold in the heat.)

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Ergonomic – As I was reminded recently when my small grandchild came to visit we need to ensure that all family members can use the bathroom no matter what their size or height. Here the free standing tub allows easy access for taking a bath for the majority of people who might use it because there’s no tub deck blocking access.

Interior design by Karen Mills

Faucets that can turned on without a knob provide easier access to turning on water as shown here. To make a vanity even more accessible we have also designed bathroom vanities that float on the wall so you can roll right under them to get to the sink.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Tips for Making Your Bedroom Appear…

Ideas for Enlarging Your Bedroom Without Remodeling

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Interior design by Karen Mills featured by Design Icons book
  1. Choose bedding in a similar color to walls and other finishes or a little lighter.  In this master bedroom design, our interior design team opted for white airy bedding that bounces more light around the room while also nicely offsetting the dreamy light blue green wallpaper, hand knotted wool rug, and other reupholstered furnishings. In contrast you can also opt for darker bedding and walls to help the boundaries of the room disappear.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Layer in some furniture that feels visually lighter. In this master bedroom, we layered in some furniture with legs showing underneath along with a lighter wood bed, and light fabric on the chair to make the room feel larger. Light neutral bedding, a bed, light painted walls and a light chair bounce more light around the room, visually expanding the space.

Karen Mills' blog

2. Add fabrics and finishes in simple, plain or tone on tone patterns including bedding, walls, furniture, and flooring. In this bedroom the homeowner used tone on tone bedding, a white upholstered bed, an acrylic bench with invisible legs, and mirrored nightstands to help visually expand her bedroom.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Ways to Create a Healthier Cleaner…

3 Tips for Making Home More Germ Free

As an interior designer I know many of our clients are looking for a home space that is more sanitary without being sterile. Read on for my ideas on how to create a more germ-free home.

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  1. Decontaminate the indoor air more efficiently with a superior quality purifier that will clean the air in your home on a regular basis. I’ve personally had the most success with a Volara air purifier in my home but ensure you select an air purifier that will reduce airborne and surface contaminants, dust, and dirt that may contain viruses or bacteria. And don’t forget to introduce fresh air inside your home every chance you get along with having your ducts cleaned.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Remove contaminants before going inside.  Start by mounting a motion sensor activated disinfectant cleanser bottle on the wall in your garage or mudroom area to sanitize your hands before entering the remainder of your home.

Then add a rack for shoes nearby to place contaminated shoes or introduce a disinfecting mat that you and/or your family can walkthrough before continuing into the house. Note: Leaving these items in the garage for 24- 48 hours can also be helpful in keeping contamination away.

Placing any contaminated clothing you have on in a hamper or nearby washer and jumping in the shower right after also help fend off germs.

For this bathroom we installed tile on floors and much of the walls that can be scrubbed down along with an adjustable shower head that makes cleaning easier whether it’s kids, pets, or yourself.

Lenova kitchen faucet with an ozone generator

3. Maintain a More Sanitary Home Interior. By keeping the inside of your home more sterile you increase the odds that you will stay healthier. One way to accomplish that feat is by cleaning your home or bringing in a maid. But home products also exist to help you be cleaner.

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

Brass also keeps germs more at bay than other metals like these solid brass doorknobs shown here. Other ways to keep your home more sanitary would include using the sanitize cycle on your dishwasher and purchasing washable materials – rugs or bedding.

In summary by removing most contaminants possible before coming inside, purifying your indoor air, and keeping surfaces clean you can create a home interior that’s safer overall for the whole family.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Design Tips for Cozying Up Your…

Ideas for Creating a Comfortable Nest at Home

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills.

1. Comfortable seating.  As an interior designer I recommend selecting high quality upholstery with upgraded cushions that will provide comfortable seating for hours at a time, while also making sure the sofa fits your body type from the seat height and depth to level of cushioning desired and style of seating cushion needed.

In this room we went with high quality custom furniture that you can sink into while enjoying the incredible views. We included a branch style fabric pattern on the sides of the chairs to tie them into the outdoors beyond.  3 Tips for a Budget Living Room Makeover

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Overland Park interior design by Karen Mills

2. Create a Cozy Conversation Area When we put together a floor plan for a living area, we should focus on designing intimate seating areas like this one shown to create a relaxing comfortable space. Adding an area rug underneath helps define the space and cozy pillows enhance the feel. 3 Big Design Mistakes We Make in Living Rooms

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Layer in texture  Texture can be added with fabrics, soft window treatments, decor, rugs, or art. In this intimate living area, drapes, pillows, and a throw bring texture into the space along with a fabric ottoman, tray, and artwork.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

5 Frequent Furniture Arranging Mistakes Made in the Living…

How to Space Plan Your Living Room

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Too Much Stuff – A room with too much furniture is visually overwhelming because it doesn’t give the eye a place to rest which can be unnerving. A well laid out living room will have a main sitting area around a focal point or if a larger space, different seating zones that can stand on their own. Here in this great room there’s ample seating and tables for drinks/books without overwhelming the space, making it calm and inviting.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Not Functional Before you lay out your furniture ensure you have ample room for 3 foot walkways to and from other rooms in addition to creating a path through your living room. Plus leave a 4 foot wide path to any exterior exits. Here in this compact living room we created a cozy seating area while leaving ample room to walk through to other spaces.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Oversized Furniture – One of the most common mistakes I see as an interior designer are clients who purchased upholstered furniture that’s way too big for their room and are determined to make their costly mistake work. The best way to avoid that problem is to measure your room before purchasing furniture or ideally hire an interior designer to give you a floorplan that works. In this cozy living area the armless chairs take up less space visually along with the round ottoman to keep the room feeling larger overall.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

4. Off Balance – When arranging furniture ensure your room is evenly balanced on both sides of the space and distributed throughout the room instead of hugging the walls. Also make sure you have vertically balanced your room by using taller furnishings or architecture to draw the eye up to the ceiling and/or by having the right size of furniture for your room. In this sitting area we’ve placed the sofa facing the fireplace center and chairs on either side to create balance on both sides of the room. A rug completes the look to bring everything together.

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5. Seating That Doesn’t Emphasize Your Focal Point – Before arranging your furniture determine your main focal point. Ideally your focal point will be a dramatic architectural feature like a fireplace or great view out a window. But if that isn’t possible you can create a focal point with furniture and art, for example. In this great room the seating is arranged to emphasize the grand fireplace by facing the sofa towards it while also allowing the incredible view out the window to be clearly visible from the entry.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

5 Frequent Furniture Arranging Mistakes We Make in the…

What to Avoid When Space Planning Your Bedroom

Karen Mills' blog example
Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Not Making Your Bed the Focal Point In this bedroom we emphasized the bed as the focal point by placing it on the longest wall, ensuring you can see it from the entry, and by layering in a luxurious blue green wallpaper behind it. Flanking end tables and lamps along with a bench and area rug also emphasize the bed as a focal point. 3 Suggestions for Creating a Restful Bedroom Retreat
Interior design by Karen Mills

2. Placing the head of your bed in front of windows without draperies framing it. The only exception to this design rule would be if you had a glass wall and you were floating the bed in front of it and the view beyond enhanced your bed. That’s because if you place the head of a bed in front of a whole or partial window suddenly the bed loses importance and the window/view gains it. In this space the bed placement is perfect not only because its on the longest wall and can be seen from the entry but also because the bed now affords a view of the spectacular woods beyond. End tables and lamps enhance the look along with a textural wallpaper behind the headboard.

Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Unrelated furniture or furnishings As an interior designer I often walk into a master bedroom for the first time to discover a desk or something else totally unrelated to the bedroom which takes away from the rest of the design. Of course with the trend to stay at home right now a desk might be necessary because of space limitations but in general all work related items need to be out of sight so you can focus on just relaxing and enjoying your sanctuary.

In this bedroom sitting area the furniture fits perfectly providing a place to take a nap, read a book, or just have a conversation.

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Interior decorating by Karen Mills

4. Lack of seating. Having a place to sit down on put on shoes or just relax and rejuvenate should be a top priority if you have the space. In this master suite a bench at the end of the bed provides an option for removing shoes while the chairs in the forefront offer a place to unwind at the end of the day. 3 Biggest Mistakes We Make in The Bedroom

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

5. Wrong size or placement of rug under bed. This problem is often one of the most common problems we encounter as interior designers. The rug is either turned the wrong direction, not under the bed at all or doesn’t emphasize the bed in a positive way.

Area rugs should be long enough span the width of the bed and nightstands. Place the rug in front of the nightstands ensuring the part of the rug is showing beyond the end of the bed to enhance the bed as your focal point.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

7 Ways to Give Your Kitchen A Facelift Without…

Tips for Refreshing Your Kitchen For Less

Interior design by Karen Mills

  1. Reface or paint your cabinetry – By refacing your cabinetry you are able to replace your dated cabinet fronts with a fresh on trend look without replacing insides of your cabinetry. In this kitchen our client opted to repaint their cabinetry to give it a fresh new look.

2. Upgrade Your Countertops By updating the countertops in this kitchen we were able to give it a fresher lighter look overall. A mitered island counter and counters that continue up the wall behind live edge shelving add to the the updated dramatic look.

Karen Mills' blog

3. Update your backsplash In this completely renovated kitchen we replaced a dated backsplash with new beveled white subway tile to lighten up the space and bounce light throughout.

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4. Install new hanging light fixtures such as pendants, chandeliers, or sconces along with undercabinet lighting. By adding work and accent lighting to your general lighting overhead you can create an ambiance that’s warm and inviting like this kitchen shown. Lit glass upper cabinets add to the ambiance.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

5. Replace pulls and/or knobs on your cabinetry. New pulls in this renovated kitchen stand out, adding to the fresh new look. Lit cabinetry, new counters and backsplash, new shelving, and a new light fixture enhance the design.

Karen Mills' blog

6. Paint your walls. In this kitchen we not only painted the walls but also redid the wood floors, replaced the backsplash, upgraded the counters, replaced the light fixtures over the table and slipcovered the chairs to create a more updated look.

7. Add a small island – with wheels ideally or a bar height table for more work space in the center of your kitchen, if needed. If you don’t have room for a permanent island and need more work space, consider adding a tiny island on wheels to hold your extra items and give you more counter space when cooking. When not in use just can roll it off to the side out of the way.

For more great interior design ideas, sign up for our design blog here!

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 7 Tips for Designing a Bathroom to…

Universal Design Tips to Make Your Bathroom More Functional for Everyone

As people we often think we are invincible or that we will never age or get hurt. But let’s face it. That’s not a reasonable assumption. So if you’re planning to stay in your home for ten years or longer ensure that you have a bathroom designed to work for you or family/friends coming to stay whether you’re recovering from surgery, have smaller children who may use the space, or an older adult who could fall. Read on for my universal bathroom interior design tips now.

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Zero Entry Curbless Shower with a wide opening – As shown above a zero entry or curb less shower entry has no lip or curb for someone to trip over and allows for you to enter your shower safely whether in a wheelchair, walker, or other adaptive device. Just remember if you want to accommodate a wheelchair to have ample space to turnaround.

A lower glass shelf allows females to shave their legs without having to bend over or brace their leg against the tile.

2, Wider doorways into the shower and the room. By including a minimum of 36″ width for an entry door into the bedroom and bathroom you can allow for wheelchair in the future if needed.

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Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Handheld Shower Head – As an interior designer I consider adjustable shower heads as a must have. Not only does it make it easier for you to rinse every part of your body, a child or even a pet, but they also make cleaning the shower tiles immensely easier and can accommodate you even in a wheelchair or on a bench after surgery.

Interior design by Karen Mills

4. Shower Bench – Adding a bench when you have room can be invaluable not only for shaving your legs but also as a place to rest when needed or even store toiletries.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

5. Grab Bars That Look Like Towel Bars – No matter what your age it’s never a bad idea to install a grab bar or two in case you lose your balance or need them for support. And what better way to do that than purchasing less industrial style bars that look like attractive towel bars.

6. Ample Lighting General, Accent, and Task As a female I can’t tell you now many times I’ve had to shave my legs in the dark and that’s no fun. By installing waterproof lights in the shower you will be able to see better, function better and even clean better. Plus these task lights also act as accent lighting to show off the beautiful Italian marble on the walls and floor.

But remember to also include general overhead lighting on a dimmer to provide another layer of lighting for walking through, shaving, putting on make-up or other tasks in the bathroom.

7. Comfort height toilet For most adults in the U.S. a higher toilet will be easier to use especially as we age in place.

In summary before you start construction on a major bathroom design, renovation, or new build take some time first to consider who will be living in the house and for how long.

For more great interior design ideas, sign up for our 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  and Instagram now!

And if you feel someone you know could benefit from this helpful information, pass it on!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Recipe for a Beautiful Kitchen Remodel or…

How to Avoid Costly Mistakes While Cooking up a Gorgeous New Kitchen

Interior design by Karen Mills

If you’re contemplating a new kitchen remodel or new home build, check out my suggestions as a kitchen designer 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.  3 Reasons Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

First 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 hired 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. 

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 kitchen remodeling for a few 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 coordinating finishes, you will have a much higher chance of success and and being happier in your living environment.

For more great interior design ideas, sign up for our 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  and Instagram now!

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: A Before and After Bathroom Transformation

A DEEP DIVE INTO A DESIGNER’S HISTORIC REMODEL JOURNEY INCLUDING BEFORE PHOTOS 

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MASTER BATH AFTER

As an interior designer I know you will find this master bath remodel amazing not only because of how ugly and dated high rise bathroom built in the early 1900s on the historic Kansas City plaza was before, but also because of the transformation that takes place in such a compact space to make it live larger.

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Master bathroom remodel before

When we first entered this dated bathroom we knew we had a real challenge not only because the space was cut in half by a walled in shower, making the bathroom feel small, cramped, and unappealing but also because we were limited by the restrictions of the historic high rise.

Karen Mills' blog
Master bath remodel before

To make matters worse this ugly master bathroom only had one sink and a dimly lit dressing area that wasn’t necessary.

Floorplan by Karen Mills

To solve this interior design dilemma we ripped out everything except the small existing closet and started over with a new floor plan, keeping the plumbing in roughly the same place to save costs.  As you can see in this new floor plan we expanded the shower into the former vanity area and flipped the toilet to make the bathroom easier to navigate, while also moving the vanity to the former dressing area.

For the new sink area we designed a custom vanity that accommodates two sinks while also adding legs to the vanity to make it appear visually lighter. Drawers that wrap around the plumbing above and below make better use of the space and provide more storage.

Karen Mills' blog
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

European style custom shaker cabinets with clean lines also give the room a less fussy look while the wall of tile behind the vanity add to the timeless style of this glamorous master bath that really stands out with a fresh new look.

Karen Mills' blog
MASTER BATH AFTER

By placing the identical Italian marble style tile on the floor and walls of this compact space, the room visually expands to live much larger than before, while the new over sized shower for two, curb less entry, and partial glass front add to the spacious feel.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills



To transform your own dated bathroom into a beautiful new space that lives larger and enhances your living experience, just follow our recipe for success by improving your layout, knocking down walls, visually expanding, and adding light.

For more great interior design ideas, sign up for our 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  and Instagram now!