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Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: Ultimate Free Guide to Space Planning

photo of space plan guide

Ever feel overwhelmed trying to start a new interior design project?

You’re not alone. As an award-winning designer who’s done over 1300 projects, I’ve had countless homeowners share how they not only felt overwhelmed but had no clue where to start.

That’s why I’m so excited to share my “Complete Guide to Space Planning Your Living Room” developed over the past 20 years as a professional designer to help guide you through the space planning design process so you can win the battle against overwhelm to create a beautiful room that brings you joy and makes staying home much more enjoyable!

Want to learn more?

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Mistakes to Avoid Space Planning an…

How to Space Plan an Open Floorplan

Hello friends! As an interior designer I probably work on more open floorplans (those social spaces with less walls) than any other layout. And I think that’s because open concept homes live bigger visually, plus allow us to include more options. So, today I wanted to share three big mistakes I notice homeowners make with space planning their main living/dining areas that are open to each other. Read on to learn more.

Photo courtesy of Vanguard. Furniture available through our interior design firm.
  1. Lack of zones – The first step to laying out an open concept floorplan begins with creating zones or groupings for lounging, dining, or whatever you need in the space like this seating group shown.
Photo courtesy of Vanguard. Furniture available through our interior design firm.

2. No focal point or no emphasis of focal point. – When you’re creating zones in an open concept living space, it’s critical that each area or zone is focused on an interesting element, whether architectural like the fireplace like shown here or a point of interest like a table, artwork, and lamp grouping. Why? Because an interior design needs to lead the eye in a natural direction.

Photo courtesy of Vanguard. Furniture available through interior designers

3. Lack of cohesiveness – For a room to be successfully designed it must be cohesive in a way that the whole area fits together with the individual zones. In this zone above, the designer achieved cohesiveness with white elements, touches of warm wood, and an overall light airy feel. So, if you continue those elements into the rest of your open concept space, you will be more likely to create a more cohesive look overall.

Want to learn more about space planning? Get our Ultimate Guide to Space Planning Your Living Room

For more inspiration, ideas, and photos, sign up for our semi-monthly interior design blog here if you haven’t done so already.

Or if you want even more exclusive content, let me know by dropping me a line at karen@karenmills.net to sign up and get more insight into design. Or email me if you need help with designing your interior.

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 5 Things to Avoid When Remodeling a…

Functional Kitchen Design or Remodel Tips

Are you ready to refresh or remodel your dated or ugly kitchen? If so, read on for professional designer tips on what to keep in mind.

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Interior design by Karen Mills
  1. Not bringing in a professional – Hiring a professional kitchen designer with experience who creates kitchens and bathrooms for a living can help you avoid costly mistakes, free up your time, and create the space of your dreams, while ensuring your space is functional. In this kitchen design we opened up the wall between the maid’s room and existing kitchen in this high-rise building to enlarge the space. But we didn’t stop there. We took the two mismatched windows from each existing room and right sized them to work seamlessly together for a more cohesive design and to bring in more light. Then we added wood flooring and beautiful lighting to give the horribly dated dark existing kitchen new life after opening up the wall to the dining room next door so we could create hearth room for relaxing and entertaining.
  2. Wasting storage potential – Countless storage options exist so there’s no reason to waste space in the kitchen especially with the adaptive kitchen storage units that make drawers and cabinets more functional from trash pullouts to roll out shelves. Here in this fabulous historic Walnuts condo where space is at a premium, we added pegged drawers under the stove for pots/lids, hidden pop open storage under the island. and used the extra space we gained straightening out a crooked back wall to create a coffee bar and pantry storage cabinet that’s draws you into the space.
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Interior design by Karen Mills

3. Insufficient or appropriate lighting – If your new kitchen doesn’t have a mix of general, task, and accent lighting, it will tend to be a little lackluster in appeal and possibly function too.

Here in this basement bar kitchen design, I created a space with can lights in the ceiling for general lighting, rope lighting inside glass cabinets/shelves for accent lighting to enhance the design, and mini chandeliers over the island that not only provide accent lighting but also task lighting for working in the kitchen.

Interior design by Karen Mills

4. Work Area Not Functional – Creating a functional layout is the first step to kitchen design whether you’re designing for a new home or doing a kitchen remodel. Here in this kitchen a work area with the stove, refrigerator, and sink easily accessible within a few steps of each other makes cooking easier and less frustrating.

Kitchen design by Karen Mills

5. Work Area Too Cramped- As an interior designer I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve walked into a home that didn’t have enough workspace. Even though the recommended distance between an island and wall cabinetry is at least 42″ I usually I find that the minimum required distance of 36″ is often the reality of existing kitchens which creates a cramped space that’s not very functional because you can barely open the oven door or get between rows of cabinetry to access a drawer. Other issues I often encounter with interior design clients who have existing kitchens are drawers or refrigerator doors can’t open fully to function correctly.

Here in this kitchen our interior design firm designed, we ensured we had at least 42″ between cabinetry in this small kitchen so everything was easily accessible.

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

Or sign up for our exclusive weekly email newsletter where we give you even more insight into interior design simply drop us a line at karen@karenmills.net or reach out to discuss your design project now.

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 7 Ways to Space Plan an Open…

Tips for Making Sense of Your Living and Dining Room Open Floorplan Design by using an Effective Room Layout

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As an interior designer who’s worked on over 1300 projects, I’ve noticed the number one interior design dilemma that our clients struggle with begins with how to space plan, especially in an awkward space or an open concept floorplan. Read on for my seven design secrets to space planning more effectively in an open floorplan.

  1. Create Zones – The first step to space planning an open living area is to determine the areas or zones you need to function well in the space whether it’s a TV watching area, conversational grouping, dining area, or work area. But remember when you’re creating zones to ensure they fit naturally into the architecture of that space.
  2. Emphasize Focal Point – Once you’ve laid out the zones and their functions, you need to determine the focal point for each one like the fireplace above, a fantastic view, or a focal point you’ve created with a furniture grouping (vignette).
  3. Place furniture in a cozy grouping – As an interior designer I recommend starting with your living room zone(s) by creating groupings that emphasize conversation with the main sofa or sectional facing your focal point such as a “L” shape, “U” shape configuration. Here in this living room the sofa faces the fireplace focal point while the wingback chairs emphasize the focal point and encourage conversation with people seating on the sofa.
  4. Create cohesiveness with color, design style, rugs, and finishes – When placing furniture in cozy groupings, ensure that you have repeated the same colors and overall design style to make a harmonious space, while layering a rug underneath as shown in this photo.
  5. Leave ample walkways – As you’re creating these zones, remember to leave 3-4′ wide walkways between each one to get from one zone to another, while also leaving room to weave through conversational areas or push back chairs at a dining table.
  6. Use dividers to further separate space when needed, whether it’s a room divider, pocket doors, glass wall or barn doors. Other great ways to divide space when remodeling or building can include different ceiling treatments, ceiling height, architectural features, or even tall elements like trees.
  7. Layer in Lighting – Chandeliers, sconces, lamps, and accent lighting also provide another way to divide a space visually, while adding an ambiance and task lighting when needed.

To learn more about space planning, click here!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Space Planning…

The majority of consumers I polled named space planning or laying out a room as their biggest challenge when trying to design an interior. Not surprising as that’s one of the top reasons homeowners reach out to our interior design firm for assistance. Read on to gain more insight into what homeowners do wrong and why it doesn’t work

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  1. Not planning ahead by creating a floorplan. By planning beforehand, you can ensure your space meets your needs, can accommodate the furniture you’ve selected, and be accessible. Plus, once you’ve created a floorplan you can doublecheck it works by laying out furniture dimensions in your room.
  2. Not emphasizing your focal point. By showcasing your focal point, you give more importance to it, whether its an architectural feature, vignette, or amazing view.
  3. Not designing your space to leave ample space for flow and walkways. For your room to function well you need to have flow through your seating areas for traffic along with main walkways that allow access from one room to the next or access to the outdoors.
  4. Not making the room functional A room that doesn’t function well may be missing tabletops for drinks or a book, lack ample lighting, or not be easily accessible, for example.
  5. Impulsive furniture buy – I understand. You’re standing in this huge store with all this beautiful furniture, and you spot something on sale or that seems to be what you want so you buy it. But when you get it home it just doesn’t work because it’s way too big for the space, too small a scale with your room, out of proportion, or doesn’t fit the design style.
  6. Placing the furniture against the walls Unless you’re having a huge gathering that’s standing room only inside your home or you’re planning to dance the night away in your room, shoving furniture against the wall is never a good idea. Why? Because its uninviting and not conducive to conversation .
  7. Overcrowding the Room Just because furniture physically fits in your room doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to put it there. For your room to functional and inviting, you need create a flow through the room, walkways for passing by, and blank areas for the eye to rest so you’re not visually overwhelmed by too much stuff.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!

If you’re looking for more interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, watch our free One Day Makeover video tutorial now.

And if you would like to learn how to decorate like a pro so you can win the battle against a dated/ugly interior or learn how to decorate/stage professionally, click now to learn about our new subscription, The Decorating Pro!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating: The Decorating Pro

A Better Way to Learn to Decorate Your Home for Less

Click to watch video

Would you like to learn how to create the room of your dreams?

Or win the battle against an unappealing interior?

I understand.

That’s why I am so excited to announce The Decorating Pro, an online membership we created that teaches you how to decorate like a pro or become a professional decorator for a fraction of the cost of professional interior designer or college degree that will be officially launching soon!

Our proprietary teaching method developed over 20 years makes learning easier and faster, and our college-level content from a state-certified instructor is available online 24/7.

We also offer staggered learning stages to fit your skill level with milestones to measure your progress, design secrets/shortcuts using real world examples to make learning more effective, support from a state accredited instructor that includes twice monthly Q&A sessions, additional monthly design content bonuses, and a private Facebook community of fellow design membership students who will help support you. 

But the best part is that we are coming together as a community of design students to help design a better world through our financial support of Karen’s Kids, a charitable cause that supports the rescue of trafficked kids and other lost children.

Even though The Decorating Pro hasn’t officially launched, we are offering a few exclusive spots for our Founding Members for only $27 per month. Click the button below to sign up or learn more now!

And if you have more questions about The Decorating Pro or donating to Karen’s Kids, email livinglargeshow@gmail.com

And follow me on Instagram or Facebook here!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: What Color Reveals About You and How…

The Meaning of Color and What Your Favorite Hue Reveals About You

Color, or the absence of color plays a critical role in our lives both at home and work. One reason is because our favorite color reveals something about our personality and can impact our mood. So, as you’re reading this blog article think about the message different colors speak to you and how impactful a whole wall of color could be on your mood.

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  • White – White is the color of innocence which is probably why the traditional wedding dress is white. White is considered the color of cleanliness, honesty, and simplicity, but lovers of this color may also be more organized, immaculate, or lead simple lives. In addition, white provides a great backdrop for other colors to stand out.
  • Black – Conversely, black is considered formal, and a color of power. It’s sophisticated, secure, and dramatic, but it can also convey a darkness, sadness, or cold feel depending on the circumstances.
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Interior design by Karen MIlls
  • Gray – Gray lovers tend to crave calmness, balance, and steadfastness. Gray people often love quality and are more careful, making a great color for creating a neutral calming space.
  • Brown – Brown, the color of earth gives us a grounded feeling of security and stability. People who love it are considered to be reliable, trustworthy, and stable.
  • Yellow – Yellow feels warm and full of sunshine. And the people who love it tend to be optimistic, cheerful, and happy. Yellow is also imaginative and joyful.
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  • Orange – Vibrant, confident, and success-oriented, orange people tend to be friendly and have a great sense of humor. Orange can create a feeling of warmth, hunger, joy, or adventure.
  • Red – Red lovers tend to be bold, exciting, and energetic. Red is the color of passion, love, desire, and daring. It’s also intense and loves grabbing your attention.
  • Green– Green embodies nature, growth, and health. Lovers of green tend to be peaceful, kind, generous, and caring.
  • Blue – The favorite color of most men, blue embodies trustworthiness, safety, and strength. This calming color aslo brings feelings of relief, peace, and hope. Other words associated with this color include water and wisdom.
  • Purple – The favorite color of most artistic people, purple is creative, intelligent, and mysterious, but also is the color of pleasure, luxury, glamor, and moodiness. Also, a favorite color of younger children, purple is a symbol of royalty and pleasure.

If you’re looking for more interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, watch our free One Day Makeover video tutorial now.

And if you would like to learn how to decorate like a pro so you can win the battle against a dated/ugly interior or learn how to decorate/stage professionally, click now to learn about our new subscription, The Decorating Pro!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: Creating Space for a Home Office

How to add a Workspace at Home When You Don’t Have a Dedicated Room

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  1. Add French, pocket, or barn doors to close off part of an open floorplan. – In this home office hidden pocket doors slide together to shut off this office space next to the living room to create a cozy area for getting work done without being disturbed.

If you prefer to have your home office in full view, you can also opt for French door style pocket doors that can make your overall living space feel larger like this interior design project we designed.

If you prefer to have your home office in full view, you can also opt for French door style pocket doors that can make your overall living space feel larger like this interior design project below we designed.

2. Hide your workspace behind built in cabinetry or in a closet. – As an interior designer I’ve helped numerous clients solve the issue of where to put a home office. One of my favorite solutions as an interior designer was a home office we designed behind kitchen cabinetry as part of a remodel. And we disguised the doors to look like cabinetry which also functions nicely as a safe room.

Other solutions our interior design firm has created includes hiding an office under the stairs, in a niche area on a landing or loft, or inside a step-in closet where you can just shut the door to hide the space.

3. Introduce a piece of furniture that can act as a desk along with storage for your office necessities. Options could include an office armoire or dining table, for example. For one client, our interior design firm helped them take over their rarely used dining room by utilizing the table as a desk for their laptop and custom built in cabinetry on the wall behind to hide everything else. The bottom of the cabinetry held office items, while the top half provided display space for the client.

If you’re looking for more interior design, decorating, or remodeling inspiration, watch our free One Day Makeover video tutorial now.

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

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

Interior Design: 3 Ways to Brighten a Dreary Living…

Tips for Creating a More Cheerful Space

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  1. Paint walls and ceilings a light color. In this internationally published living space, we designed, we painted the dark walls light, recovered the sofa and chair, slipcovered the armless chairs, and layered a lighter rug underneath the hearth area, completely transforming the space from dark and dreary to light and dreamy.

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2. Remove dark window coverings including drapery fabric or hard window treatments that block much of the light. In this hearth living area, the windows are only covered by white blinds, keeping the room feeling light airy.

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3. Replace or recover dark upholstery and rugs. In this living space we recovered all the dark heavy upholstery with lighter shades of fabrics and layered in a lighter rug to bounce additional light around the room.

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  or Instagram now!

We would love to hear from you and any topics you would like to be covered that haven’t. And if someone you know could benefit from this helpful information, we would love to have you pass it on!

Interior Design/Interior Decorating

ONE DAY MAKEOVER DEMO

A Video on How to Redesign Your Room in One Day Using Existing Furnishings

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Hello friends! Our interior design firm has been working on so much these past few months and I wanted to share one of my favorite things we did with you that’s absolutely free! In this fun informative video, I personally teach you some of my favorite shortcuts and secrets to interior design including how to coordinate mismatched furniture, add a pop of color, and decorate your shelves! Click to watch now!

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  or Instagram now!

We would love to hear from you and any topics you would like to be covered that haven’t. And if someone you know could benefit from this helpful information, we would love to have you pass it on!