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.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Biggest Mistakes We Make in the…

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

1. Lack of a Focal Point – Often as an interior designer I walk into a bedroom to discover a stark cold space that has no focus. Your bed is the focal point of the bedroom and the area you want to emphasize.

Here in this beautiful inviting bedroom we enhanced the existing poster bed with crisp white bedding, a gorgeous calming textural leaf wallpaper, and a warm hand knotted wool rug.

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Photo courtesy of Kravet

2. Uninviting – Often a bedroom becomes a dumping ground for everything we need to put away or even worse our home office space so to begin remove everything that’s not bedroom related.

In this space by Kravet, simple timeless bedding, a cozy bed that envelopes you and simple furnishings help create an inviting space.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Too Cluttered or Crowded – In this smaller attic bedroom we didn’t want the room to feel crowded or cluttered with the king size mattress the clients needed so we designed a bed that didn’t overwhelm the room. Floating tables we designed along with light fixtures we adapted to hover over the tables gives a more open airy feel to the space.

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Karen Mills' blog

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Biggest Mistakes We Make in the…

Interior design by Karen Mills featured in two international books
  1. Unwelcoming  –  If you want your guests to feel welcome then its important to create an inviting interior design like this entry where you are greeted by natural light, soothing colors, interesting patterns and textured materials like the pillows, throw, and branches.
Interior Design by Karen Mills

2. Zero Personality – As an interior designer I can’t repeat enough the importance of showcasing your personal style in the foyer. The entry has become the most important area in your home because it gives people an idea of your personality and taste. In this foyer we showcased the clients’ love of animal prints on this traditional custom designed stool while also pairing it with abstract art to reveal their unique style and great taste.

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

3. Lack of Intrigue   I always tell our interior design clients to think of their foyer as the advertisement for their home because your entry should give visitors a glimpse into what’s coming next from colors and style to personal mementos like this entry where we began with a family heirloom piece and dressed it up with a beautiful landscape painting, vase, and lamp that gives you a preview of the color scheme and what’s next.

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 
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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 Decorating: 3 Big Design Mistakes We Make in…

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Lack of a Focal Point    Often the best area to emphasize in a living space is the fireplace or great view outside but if you don’t have those options, create a vignette (grouping) of furniture/accessories that will grab your attention. Then group your upholstery around the focal point to emphasize it. Here in this living room the stone fireplace acts as a focal point for the seating area.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

2.  Purchasing Over Sized Upholstery Or Too Many Pieces  Have you ever decided you wanted to buy a new living room grouping but didn’t bother creating a floor plan or measuring the space first? Suddenly your furniture arrives and the furniture takes up so much real estate you can barely walk through or don’t have room? As an interior designer I can’t tell you how many frantic calls I’ve received from homeowners requesting help with their space planning only to discover the wrong furniture was already purchased and they want me to fix it which we know is impossible. In this living room, the right size furniture was used and strategically placed to not only enhance the focal point (fireplace) but also leave ample room for someone to pass through.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior decorating by Karen Mills

3.  Selecting The Wrong Wall Color   After working on 1200+ interior design projects I see this mistake happen more than any other. We might want to blame a decorating network like HGTV or DIY for making us believe that picking paint colors is easy but I think its because the general public doesn’t realize how much a color can change when it goes from a tiny paint swatch to an interior or in different lighting situations. In this great room we selected the paint color during day that not only coordinated with the finishes and furniture but also played well with other rooms in view.

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 and former host of the Living Large design show, Karen Mills, on 
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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: 3 Tips for Creating a Cozy Bedroom

Often we take sleep for granted until we start to have problems with concentration, alertness, or our overall ability to function well. Then good sleep becomes more of a priority. Read on for 3 ways to create a nest like atmosphere in your bedroom that’s conducive to better sleep.

Interior design by Karen Mills featured in international book titled Architecture Today Interior Design
  1. Simpler Bedding and Patterns As an interior designer in Kansas City I’ve used simple tone on tone patterns and texture in bedrooms for years in everything from fabulous washable linens from Italy to textured velvet or sheared fabrics like we’ve seen recently in fashion wear. Here in this Overland Park bedroom Italian bedding from Terrasi Home on the Plaza in simpler patterns, textural finishes and clutter free space create a stress free environment where we can unwind and relax.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills featured in international book titled Architecture Today Interior Design

2. Cozy Beds  Beds that envelope us will continue to be popular whether its are a four poster bed, an upholstered bed like this guest room in Mission Hills, or a fabulous combination of both. In this guest room calming colors and patterns, low lighting, and clean lined furnishings enhance the overall feel, creating a beautiful interior design.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills featured international book titled Design Icons

In this bedroom a four poster bed creates a cozy feel
while the wallpaper, area rug, upholstered bench, and simpler fabrics on the chairs beyond enhance the relaxed inviting feel of this beautifully designed master bedroom in Mission Hills.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesy of Curated Kravet


3. Textured Walls  Painted accent walls have been a craze for years but wrapping the whole room in textural walls will gain popularity again this year. In this interior design space featured by Curated Kravet an upholstered bed, area rug, bench, throw, and bedding add to the cocoon feel created by the gorgeous textural walls enveloping the space.

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

For more information on how to get better sleep and create a healthier environment, learn more at SLEEP BETTER LIVE BETTER now!

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Tips for Designing a Monochromatic Living…

Custom design by interior designer Karen Mills – Overland Park
  1. Choose One Color Hue – When an interior designer says the word hue, we are referring to a color family such as blue, white, or black, for example. By focusing on one color like the white we selected for this family room area, you can make a huge impact. Here the whites vary from walls and trim to finishes, furniture, and floor coverings.

2. Use softer variation of color hue on upholstery or walls. In this lobby living area space, a darker color of pumpkin grounds the floor, while lighter upholstery fabrics and tile on pillars repeat the color scheme

Karen Mills' blog
Custom Design by interior designer Karen Mills – Mission Hills

3. Layer in multiple textures. Even though we created custom upholstery in a solid neutral brown, the soothing gray blue green color scheme selected still makes a strong statement while evoking a calming vibe. A darker contemporary wool rug we designed grounds the room, while the custom pillows and throws we created enhance the monochromatic hue along with blue walls beyond.

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Ways to Remodel Smaller Kitchens to…

An Interior Designer’s Perspective on How to Make Your Kitchen Remodel Appear Bigger

As an interior designer who specializes in kitchen remodels, I often get called on to make a kitchen live larger. Read on for my 3 expert tips on how to do just that.

Interior design by Karen Mills – Kansas City
  1. Paint cabinets white or a light neutral color to reflect light around the room so the kitchen appears larger and cabinets seem to disappear. In this kitchen remodel natural light and interior lighting also give the room a larger feel.
Interior design by Karen Mills – Leawood

2. Incorporate open shelving or another design element to make cabinetry not appear so overwhelming. In this kitchen partial remodel we ran beautiful white quartz counter tops by Cambria up the wall as a back splash behind the shelving to offset the dark cabinets and lighten the room.

Interior design by Karen Mills – Kansas City

3. Glass front shelves, preferably lit, help open up this kitchen remodel to make it live larger by visually shrinking the cabinetry. Great interior lighting, sunlight, light neutral painted kitchen cabinets, white granite counter tops, and open shelves add to the larger feel.

For more great ideas on design or interior decorating sign up for our weekly interior design blog here

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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Blue Color Scheme Options for the…

One of the biggest questions I get asked as an interior designer is what color scheme to use in decorating or designing a space.  If you’re not sure what color is best, trying shopping your closet for inspiration because your favorite outfits or jewelry are often the colors that look best.  Read on for three possibilities for a blue color scheme in your living space.

Karen Mills' blog
Photo courtesty of Century Furniture

2. Red, White, and Blue

In this living space blue and red has been used quite effectively to create a little drama.  By starting with a neutral base of white and blue gray that’s more relaxing, red decor – tables, pillow patterns, and accents, can be added without overpowering the space.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior decorating by Karen Mills

3. Blue, Warm Gray, Beige, and White

When you have a room that already has bold finishes – patterns and color like this one, you might want to introduce lighter neutral colors with little or no pattern for everything else.  Here we introduced lighter upholstery, pillows, decor, and an area rug with interesting textures and less pattern to create a calming effect.

Karen Mills' blog example of pattern
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Blue, Orange, White, and Taupe

Inspiration for this color scheme came from the existing mermaid artwork over the mantel.  To bring it all together we started with a light neutral sofa and coffee table, then layered in custom blue draperies and fun toss pillows along with an existing rug to create a cohesive color scheme with the artwork. In addition by using orange and blue together, you create a more energetic vibe since they are opposites on the color wheel.

For more great ideas on design or interior decorating sign up for our weekly interior design blog here

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Universal Interior Design: 3 Bath Trends of the Future

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.

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: 3 Tips for Your Bedroom to Live…

Ideas for Visually Expanding Your Bedroom

Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Choose bedding in a similar color to other finishes. In this tight attic space where our interior design client requested a large bed and nightstands for guests we designed blue green bedding in similar hues to the wall color so the bed would seem to decrease in size even though it took up most of the space. Custom designed shelves and and light fixtures add to the visually larger feel.
Karen Mills' blog
Interior decorating by Karen Mills

2. Add fabrics and finishes with little or no pattern including bedding, walls, furniture, and flooring. In this bedroom tone on tone bedding, solid furniture finishes, acrylic legs on the bench, mirrored nightstands, and a white bed that bounces light around the room help create the light airy feel.

Karen Mills' blog
Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Layer in some furniture with legs that show. In this bedroom space, we layered in some furniture with legs showing underneath along with vertical striped wallpaper to draw the eye up and make the room feel larger. Light neutral bedding, a bed, and chair bounce more light around the room visually expanding the space.

For more great ideas on design and decorating sign up for our weekly interior design blog here

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