A common theme with most clients is the need to declutter.  Whether helping stage for sale or redecorate, too much old stuff can really get in the way of a fresh, new look.  This is especially true of anyone who has lived in the same home for ten years or more.

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Trying to decorate around tons of stuff, from hand-me-downs to old furniture, art and accessories is a daunting task.  While it’s certainly possible for an experienced Redesigner to work many of these items into an updated look, the average homeowner will struggle.  Either out of sentimental attachment or the thought “I might need that someday!”, it’s hard to let go of the past.  The reality, however, is if you haven’t touched it, looked at it or used it in the last year or so, chances are you will never really need it.

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It’s no secret Americans are a society of consumers.  We are bombarded with ads and sales to entice us to buy things we don’t necessarily need or sometimes even know we want.  While that’s a huge topic all on its own, the real problem is we tend to consume (or dispose) of much less than we collect.  Accumulated treasures, no matter how relevant at the time, can result in a home buried in the past with the look and feel to match.

I met a lady once who had suffered through a tornado.  Her home and its entire contents were essentially swept away in a matter of minutes. Understandably, she was devastated.  Years later, as she was telling me the story,  she said living through the tornado had taught a valuable lesson.  Ultimately, she’d come to appreciate that, while she and her family had escaped with their lives, her home and its contents were just “stuff”.  Rather than getting depressed by the loss of so many things, after a while she felt oddly liberated by the tragedy.  So, she decided that, every year on the anniversary of the tragic event, she would have a ‘tornado’ day!  Anything in her home that hadn’t been used or was just taking up space would either be donated or thrown away.

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I’ve never forgotten her story.  And while I’m as guilty as the next of accumulating too much ‘stuff’, every so often I feel inspired by her to have my own ‘tornado’ day and I highly recommend the same to my clientele.  If possible, I suggest setting aside a day or two a year, perhaps when you change those smoke detector batteries or change the time on your clocks and have a ‘tornado’ day.

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The moral of the story is it’s ok to let go!  Stop holding on to or trying to decorate with everything you or someone you loved has ever owned.  Life is too short to be buried in a pile of crap that even you don’t want but hold onto out of guilt or perceived obligation.  (Side rant:  If I never see another “grandma’s” piano sitting in a corner covered in dust, it’ll be too soon!)

Your home is constantly evolving and so is your decor.  Out with the old and in with the new only works if you make that first bit (out with the old) a priority!  Declutter your way to style and you’ll be happier for it.

Happy Decluttered Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc.  815-245-2433






How many times have you moved during your lifetime and why?  Maybe your parents moved when you were growing up.  Perhaps your first move came when you left home for college.  Or was your first move into an apartment with roommates?  A while later, you probably moved again when you bought your first home.  Maybe there were even other moves in between.  Chances are your living accommodations have changed many times over the years either out of want, necessity or both.

Usually, the most challenging moves comes later in life when you find yourself needing to scale back due to age or other physical limitations.  Sometimes that transition is out of choice.  More often than not, it is of necessity.  In many ways, these moves aren’t filled with the same excitement as those when you were younger.  Often, they can feel like a move with few choices.  On top of that, it has been reported that moving is the most stressful thing you will ever do in your life second only to burying a friend or loved one.  The logistics of any move, especially for seniors, can be overwhelming.

But, senior downsizing (or what should more accurately be referred to as ‘right-sizing’ ) into a smaller home can be be just as exciting and rewarding as those you looked forward to in your younger days.

One of the biggest challenges of ‘right-sizing’ is figuring out what to take with you and what should be left behind.  Sentimental attachments can make parting with a lifetime of accumulated treasures a very traumatic experience.  That’s where the help of an experienced decorator, especially one with senior move experience, can help put a different and more positive spin on this stressful time.

While younger folks usually handle a move independently, senior moves really are more of a family affair.  And while it’s natural to want everything to be nice and new for mom or dad to get them excited about moving, the reality is older furniture and accessories are actually better.  Time worn and cherished belongings immediately make any new and different space feel more familiar and comfortable.

We recently helped with such a transition for a senior in Palatine.  Mobility, memory and other issues had forced the family to decide to move this 90 year old widow into a nearby Assisted Living facility.  Apprehensive and confused, our client’s biggest concern was just how she was going to fit a lifetime of stuff from a four-bedroom home into a 400 sq. foot apartment.






Over the course of several weeks, we discussed and planned the move with the entire family’s input.  First, we decided what absolutely needed to be taken and what would fit in the new home.  Next, we worked on solutions to maximize storage for clothes, toiletries and other supplies. Finally, we filled in the blanks with things that were mostly sentimental in nature.  Our goal was to make the new space feel like a small cross-section of the previous home.



The day before the big move, we went through the home and collected all the furniture, art and accessories we had decided to take to the new apartment.  Of course, toiletries, towels, bedding and such were also on the list.  Everything was carefully packed up and readied for the next day.



On the morning of the move, we arrived to take everything to the new facility.  While a few members of the family stayed behind to reassure our client, we were off to get things done.  Minimizing disruption, especially for those suffering with memory loss, is crucial to any successful senior move.

After several hours, we called to let the family know it was time to bring mom in for the big reveal.  What had felt like a tiny empty box the first time she saw it now felt more like home.  And while it could never compare to the home she’d left, it was now a cozy and inviting space that included many more of her memories and treasures than she ever thought possible.

In the Rascal Flatt’s hit ‘These Days’, part of the lyrics are “Life throws you curves and you learn to swerve!”  Nothing could be truer of moving, especially for seniors later in life.

Decorating for anyone is a privilege.  Helping seniors transition into age appropriate living accommodations that are both safe and beautiful is even more rewarding.  Honoring the past while embracing the present helps the future look much brighter.  Looking forward to hearing of the many new and happy memories this mom has in her new home.

Happy Right-Sizing from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433











Every now and then, a client like Stacey comes along.  Several years ago, we met when she hired us for a redesign in the family’s former home.  Since then, our professional relationship has turned into the perfect partnership on numerous decorating projects.

As the saying goes, two heads really are better than one!  That couldn’t be more true when we’ve worked with Stacey.  While most clients prefer sharing their ideas and then leaving us to bring their vision to life, Stacey enjoys being more involved in the process.  By being open to direction and willing to do some of the work, her sweat equity lets us stretch the budget even further than we might have been able to otherwise.  And when it’s all said and done, she can honestly say the beautiful results are as much her doing as our own.

These days, we’ve been working with Stacey on her family’s new home in Huntley.  Decorating room by room as budget allowed, we’ve transformed their blank, new-construction house into a beautiful home.  Most recently, after finishing the living areas, we’ve turned our attention to the family’s bedrooms, giving each its own personality and style .


Over the years, we’ve fine tuned our process to perfection!  First, we meet to brainstorm ideas.  We discuss her vision, make adjustments as needed, and come up with a plan.  Next, we outline a time frame and desired budget.  Finally, we assign tasks for one another to accomplish prior to “the day” when it all comes together.  While Stacey goes shopping for the key elements we know we’ll need, we’ve moved on to our own list which usually involves finding the perfect, little details we know will bring it all together.

Not to be forgotten, her husband is always a good sport.  We know he dreads when we get together.  It usually means he has his own ‘honey-do’ list when we’re done!  Whether hanging window panels or painting walls, he always helps things along saving us time and money.


On the day of install, or what Stacey says feels like ‘Christmas Day’, she reveals what’s been accomplished and bought since our initial consult.  We, in turn, bring in all the goodies we’ve found.  Then we go to work weaving her purchases in with our own to put it all together.  You’d think it might be difficult for different people to work independently and arrive at the same goal.  But, that’s where Stacey really rocks!

Most things work perfectly and our collective efforts are usually spot on.  Anything that is duplicated, doesn’t work or isn’t needed is returned.  The final result is always a beautifully styled space that has Stacey’s personal taste and vision throughout.  Our job was simply to make sense of it all and guide everything into place so that everything works together.


Decorator-client partnerships come in all forms.   Each client is unique and approaches the process differently.  Every now and again, you find that unique client who is open to the process but also capable of hands-on involvement to put his/her own spin on pulling together the perfect look!

If you like the idea of a hands-on partnership with a decorator who can work with you to create the space of your dreams, give us a call @ 815-245-2433.  Here’s to many future decorating partnerships with Decor Designs!




Who hasn’t tried at least one paint-by-number?  I remember trying this classic moose masterpiece when I was a kid.  Sadly, I don’t think mine looked much better than this one.  In fact, I’ve never been very good at painting even by the numbers.  Thank goodness, when it comes to decorating, the numbers work in my favor.  In fact, here are some of my favorites. From ONE to SEVEN, these tips take the guesswork out of and might help fill in your own decorating blanks.

ONE:  Arranging any space is easier if you narrow down to ONE focal point.  Whether it’s a fireplace, picture window, piano or tv, picking a focal point to arrange around makes it easier to group furniture and helps a room make sense.


TWO:   Even numbers, especially pairs of things appear more formal.  Whether it’s a pair of matching wingback chairs, lamps, end tables or even TWO companion art pieces, duos work well symmetrically feeling balanced and more formal.


THREE:  When deciding the color story for your space, think in THREEs.  A trio of colors, even shades of the same color, add dimension and interest to any space.  Start with a canvas or background color (usually walls).  Enhance your background with a color that compliments it.  That could be another example of the same color or a neutral.  Finally, add a pop of color that is unexpected and seems to fight or clash with the first two.  Following the rule of THREE when picking colors will create a dynamic color palette for your space.

Color Trio

FOUR:  Most rooms have at least 4 corners.  And your room is going to look and feel differently when seen & appreciated from each one.  When you’re decorating, make sure you take a look at your space from as many vantage points as possible… preferably all FOUR corners of the room.  The balance and layout of a room can look great from one side, but might look off from another corner.  As you place furniture, add artwork and accessories always take a look at your composition from each corner making adjustments as you go.


FIVE:  Even in formal spaces, most accessories look best when grouped in odd numbers.  While pairs of accessories can be dramatic, odd numbers of accessories in varying sizes and shapes add visual interest and layers to your design.  Grouping a tall, short, flat, round and an oddly shaped items is a great formula for accessorizing.


SIX:  Great lighting is one of the most important and yet overlooked aspects of decorating.  In order to showcase your decor and eliminate dark corners in your space, ensure at least SIX sources of evenly distributed light in your space.  Natural light from windows in addition to overhead lighting and lamps all count toward your six.


SEVEN:  Artwork makes a strong statement in any space.  If hanging above a sofa, console table or other furniture, it should be ‘mated’ with the object it hangs above.  The rule of thumb is to hang artwork with the bottom roughly 6-8″ above the back of the furniture piece.  If your artwork is hung an average of seven inches above, you’ll insure perfectly hung artwork every time.


In many ways, the art of decorating is as straight forward and fool-proof as paint by number.  Incorporating ONE through SEVEN , rest assured your space will look as good or even better than your favorite fool-proof art masterpiece.

Happy Decorating by the Numbers.


Necessity is the mother of invention.  What could be more necessary than having a super basement to host your buddies in for the Super Bowl?  With the boys coming home from school on the eve of one of the biggest tv watching days of the year, any good mother would want to make sure everything was perfect for the Big Game!


This particular good mom and I met about three weeks ago to figure out what could be done to spruce up the basement in time for the big game!  No matter how much we tried to repurpose and move things around, it just didn’t feel right.  It quickly became clear what we really needed was some new furniture to bring everything together.  But with only three weeks to pull it off, how were we going to get it done?  Pressed for time and with my full schedule, we decided for mom to do the shopping.  We weren’t sure we could get absolutely everything in time.  But, with a head full of ideas and a big shopping list, mom was off!

Friday before game day, it was time to put it all together.  Miraculously, she had been able to have a new sectional, sofa table and card table delivered.  On top of furniture, she had gone shopping for a new rug, artwork and all the accessories to fit our new “game cave” theme.



After several hours placing furniture, hanging artwork and accessorizing, the space was game ready!



We were even able to reuse the previous leather sofa and loveseat in another part of the basement creating a cozy gaming area for the guys.


Just in time to kick off the fun!


Decorating for couples is always a complex dance of giving one what s/he wants without alienating the other.  Invariably, you often find yourself caught between two distinctly different sets of likes and wants.

As generalities go, ‘male’ energy in the home prefers function over form, neutral bests bold, and old (think broken in) wins over new.  Female energy, on the other hand, can be quite the opposite.  Form is equal to if not more important than function.  Trendy and colorful are more appealing.  New and neat wins out over worn and tired.  Again… generalities being what they are, it’s rare to find two people in any household (especially of the opposite sex) who can agree on all things decorating.



This couldn’t have been more true of a project we just finished in Cary.  First, let me say that one couldn’t ask for better clients.  Even-tempered and polite, both were open to the process.  While the wife of this empty-nester duo was more than ready for the refresh, the husband agreed somewhat begrudgingly.  But, with a little reassurance that ‘his’ likes and wants would also be respected, he too embraced the changes.



Once underway, we were almost given carte blanche in our choices. Furniture additions were suggested and approved of course.  But the rest was up to us to pull it all together. Working within the existing color palette of warmer tans and creams and incorporating both the older and newer furniture, our goal was simple…. update everything and tie it together!

Fortunately, with two distinct ‘styles’ in play, the primary seating areas in the home were on opposite ends of the house.  The living room was already more a statement to her likes while the family room was definitely more to his.  And while far apart in style, the separation made it easier to give both what they wanted while staying true to our goals.

In the living room, a new coffee table, window treatments, rug, lamps, artwork and accessories helped refresh and finish ‘her’ space reflecting her likes & sensibilities.

In the family room, a new leather ottoman, end tables, window treatments, rug, lamps, artwork and accessories brought ‘his’ old west inspired motif into the new millennium!





The dining room and kitchen served as a nice bridge between the two living areas, reflecting elements from both spaces to tie it all together.





Sharing her experience on, our client wrote:  “When we saw our outdated home brought to something that could be featured in a magazine, it brought tears to my eyes.   We could not be more thrilled with the outcome.”

Finding the happy medium between ‘male’ and ‘female’ is always a challenge for any decorator or designer.  In reality, as in life however, the perfect decor is a marriage of the two.

Happy His & Hers Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433






Young parents have their hands full no doubt.  A toddler and three year old coupled with full time careers leaves little time for space planning and shopping for all the things that make a house a home.  We started off the New Year finishing a project started last fall for a young family in Barrington.  Giving couples more family time to do what they do best is an added bonus of our decorating projects.



As with most projects, the family needed help making the best use of their living spaces.  But with young children, it was equally important to ensure they were as kid friendly as they were stylish.  Quite a bit of new furniture was needed to replace some older furniture that had outlived its usefulness while reusing a few pieces that still worked in our overall plan.  New kitchen and dining room tables and chairs along with new family room furniture were planned along with new counter stools in the kitchen and additional storage options for the home office.  And while we had inherited a nice color palette from the previous owners, a fresh coat of paint took care of any dings and blemishes.



Updating the kitchen to better suit our clients more traditional taste meant replacing the more contemporary polished chrome hardware and lighting with warm bronze.



The hardest part of any project is waiting for custom furniture to be manufactured and delivered.  So we took advantage of the time to find the perfect filler pieces including art, accessories, lighting and rugs.









Over the course of several days, we were able to style all three floors of the home.  From a kid friendly play space and man cave in the basement to perfectly appointed bedrooms and baths, almost every part of the house came together to say “home” for this wonderful family.





When it was all said and done, we received the following message from the owners:

Our home looks amazing and it has been the best two days in our house since we moved in! Over the past couple of days we’ve been able to look everything over and enjoy each of the spaces. Our house truly feels likes home because each space is well thought out, cozy, warm and peaceful. It feels amazing to have each room arranged, organized and beautiful. Again, we thank your for all of the time you have spent working with us and helping us along on this journey. We so appreciate you and your amazing ideas. I have literally been smiling all weekend as I walk from room to room. Your work is amazing and we appreciate your dedication to helping us.


Decorating a new-to-you house can be a daunting project.  Sometimes it seems like almost everything needs to be changed so it will work.  You have no problem asking for moving help.  But what about asking for decorating help.  Opening that door can help eliminate a lot of the stress and guesswork from the move.  And it goes a long way toward letting you enjoy your new home without being overwhelmed by so many questions and to-dos!


We just finished the first part of a project in Bull Valley for an awesome young couple moving into their first ‘together’ home.  Just starting out, several friends asked why they were going to the expense of working with an interior decorator.  She explained that she wasn’t sure what to do with the long, rectangular living space.  And, she wanted to make sure it was done right the first time, ultimately saving time & money.  Good Answer!


The project began by painting over the previous owner’s colors to unify the space and better compliment our new vision for decor.  We chose a combination of Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, Mega Greige, Diverse Beige and Realist Beige.  We wanted the trendy and ever-popular warm grays and beiges because they blended well with the Spanish tile and hardwood floors. While both might change in the future, those colors will compliment almost any flooring changes.



As the homeowners worked on painting, we spent the next several weeks deciding on and ordering furniture for the living and dining areas.  Awaiting delivery, we turned our attention to finding the details that would tie the spaces together with a ‘lived-in’, finished look.  After learning about the couples likes/dislikes, professional lives, hobbies and other interests, we formulated a plan for their space that would reflect as many of those things as possible.  

After what seemed like forever, the patient couple let me know the furniture had started to arrive.  Once everything was delivered, we set to work doing what we do.  From new window treatments to lighting, artwork to accessories, every single element had to be added.

The main living area was a long rectangular space separated by a beautiful wooden spiral staircase to the upstairs bedrooms.  As with seating in any large space, it’s better to break the room up into smaller “rooms” to create useful and cozy furniture groups.  On one side of the spiral stairs we opted for a living area complete with an 8′ round tan/gray jute rug anchoring four new leather chairs.  The focal point for that space would be a reclaimed wood bookcase from Pier 1.  The other side of the staircase would play home to a new sofa and oversized chair with a new antique white t.v. console as the focus.



Another unique challenge in the space were the numerous sliding doors opening to a large sunroom along the side of the home.  Rather than leaving them all open for use, making it difficult to place furniture, we chose to ignore them.   Instead, we left the one off the kitchen as the primary doorway into the sunroom space.   The others we treated as large windows.  Floor length sheer panels allow the light to pass while softening the hard edges of the doors.




To brighten the space, we added lighter fabrics, rugs and window treatments where possible.  A new, rough-hewn, wood top with white base dining set complimented the white kitchen cabinets.  New barstools were added at the kitchen counter.


With rustic bones and surrounded by lots of woods, the home begged for natural accents.  And working for a large animal vet and pro golfer gave us plenty of inspiration to personalize their artwork and decor.

The completed space feels warm and inviting and received rave reviews from both clients and friends/family.

As we’ve said many times, starting from scratch can be a daunting undertaking.  Don’t let all the minor details take away from the excitement of owning a new home.  We’re happy to help make the most of your good taste!

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433


New years are symbolic times for fresh starts and new beginnings.  Why not start the New Year with a fresh, new look for your home?


Like & Share our Facebook page contest post for your chance to win one of our NEW “E-Consult” Redesign consultations.  E-Consult is a fast and easy way for us to help with many of your decorating dilemmas regardless of your location!

How does E-Consult work?  Just snap and email us a few photos of your room.  Then call or join us on Facetime so we can walk you through ideas that will help transform your space doing your own DIY room decorating makeover.

Winner will be selected at random from all eligible Facebook shares posted by midnight January 15th, 2017.  Open to all U.S. residents age 21 and older.  No purchase necessary.

Don’t want to wait?  Call to book your own E-Consult today!  Major credit and debit cards accepted!

What are you waiting on?  Add Decor Designs to the list of Resolutions you’ll actually be happy to keep this year!  Good Luck & Happy 2017 from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433


A couple of years ago in December, we blogged a series called “The 12 Days of Jolly Decor”.  Since we are already a third of the way into our countdown to Christmas, I thought these short tips might still come in handy as you prepare to welcome family and friends to celebrate this festive time of year.

From tremendous trees to gorgeous garlands, mantle makeovers to terrific table-scapes, beautiful boxes to beauteous bows, I hope you enjoy these great ideas.  Get ready for a veritable Bacchanalia of holiday delights.  Click this link to our December 2014 Archives for:   Twelve Days of Jolly Decor  You’ll have to scroll to the bottom to get them in order.  Or just pick and choose the ones that look the best for you!

Whatever traditions you celebrate, wishing you the Happiest of Holidays from Decor Designs!