Category Archives: Decorating Tips


Thanks to design shows like HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, the vintage, reclaimed, shabby chic trend in decorating is enjoying a long run of popularity.  Given our ever-busy lifestyles, when we do have a moment to sit down and enjoy home, it’s no wonder we want to surround ourselves with what could easily be called the ‘comfort food’ of decorating .

Just as hole-y, worn looking jeans always make a comeback, the trend toward less-than-perfect home decor appears to have lasting power.  It’s really no wonder.  Repurposing and restyling anything is an awesome way to stretch your decorating budget and keep things out of landfills. And it evokes feelings of nostalgia and better, simpler times.

As with any trend in design, however, moderation is the key.  As tempting as it might be to slather everything in your home with chalk paint, it’s probably not the best idea.  Just like all other trends, this too will eventually pass.

If you’ve been bitten by the shabby chic bug, understand that just because it’s shabby doesn’t make it chic.  Like too much meatloaf, pot pie or mac n cheese, too much of a good thing leads to other undesirable problems down the road.

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Putting the chic in shabby requires restraint.  Still don’t follow?  Do a search for images of “shabby chic” on the internet.  You’ll be inundated with images of distressed, painted furniture smothered in pastel florals and accessories.  While that may speak to a small fraction of the decorating public’s taste, ‘grandma’s tea party’ (in my opinion) is a perfect example of not-so-chic shabby.

Unless your home and lifestyle truly lend themselves to shabby overload, consider only incorporating a few reclaimed elements in your spaces.  The juxtaposition of old and new creates an eclectic mix and your vintage treasures become the conversation starters you want them to be.

Cooking up the right mix of comfort, both in your home and on your table, requires a certain amount of restraint.  Your guests and your arteries will thank you!

Happy Shabby Chic Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433




I read somewhere “home is where life happens” or something to that effect.  I totally agree! While it’s certainly nice to have a perfectly decorated, neat & tidy home, let’s be honest.  It’s almost impossible to live like that 24/7, 365 days of the year.  The daily coma of family life can take a toll on your paint, furniture and accessories making decorating perfection a fleeting, if not impossible, goal.

As much as we love them, kids (BOTH the two & four legged kind) can make having the perfect decor even more of challenge.  Since beautiful decor goes hand in hand with neatness and cleanliness, it’s an almost impossible feat with kids or animals around.

I consulted with a client recently who apologized for her lack of decorating.  Her excuse was that she and her husband had been in a “kiddy coma” for over 10 years.  I know that’s the way a lot of parents feel.  It’s a very real condition in many households and no reason to be ashamed.

Kids will be kids.  As they should be.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t have pretty things or a reasonable expectation of everything looking nice.  Here are a few of the best tips I’ve shared with young families over the years to help wake up quickly from the dreaded kiddy coma:

1-  Set boundaries.  Children learn quickly.  Teach them the difference between adult spaces and kid-friendly ones.  Start early, making sure the kids understand which spaces are meant for child’s play and those for adult “play”.  That doesn’t mean the two can’t or won’t overlap from time to time.  But, if the kids have a space that is all their own, they’ll be less inclined to trash the ones you would prefer to keep neat and pretty.

2-  Storage.  Provide plenty of it!  It’s easier to keep things looking neat and tidy with lots of storage.  Cabinets, trunks and storage ottomans are great accent pieces in your decor.  And they offer perfect places to tuck things away.  If possible, toy boxes should have lids and should be tucked behind a sofa or chair.  And don’t forget decorative boxes.  They’re both a beautiful addition to your decor and very useful to keep life organized.

3-  Paint.  No matter how hard you try, expect your walls to take a beating, especially with younger kids and animals in the home.  Save yourself time and money by using the right paint for the lifestyle in your home.  Most paint manufacturers including Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams now boast products specifically designed for durability and washability.  And while it’s better at hiding blemishes and touch ups, flat paint tends to show rubbing and burnishing.  So, consider using a satin or eg-shel finish instead.  Finally, I find an ample supply of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers™ is a must-have in any active household.  (Just be careful… they can remove paint as easily as finger prints.)

4-  Area rugs.  Inexpensive, cleanable area rugs are much cheaper and more easily replaced than other wall to wall floorings.  Protecting high traffic areas with inexpensive rugs will help protect the finish of hardwood and make carpet last longer.  

5-  Upholstery.  Your gut may tell you to go a cheaper route with furniture.  Unfortunately, all furniture has a “life expectancy” based on its quality of construction.  Kids can be rough on furniture.  Cheaply made furniture will need to be replaced more frequently and may cost more, in the long run, than more well-made pieces.

The key to buying furniture that will stand the kid-test is to pick fabrics that are both durable and cleanable.  Check the cleaning code of the fabric.  “W” is the code used for the most forgiving and durable fabrics because it can be cleaned with Water.  “WS” refers to fabrics that can be cleaned using Water and/or a mild Solvent.

Depending on the price and coverage, fabric protection insurance from furniture retailers is a good idea with young kids and pets.  Many cover accidental spills and bodily fluids (both human and animal).  DIY fabric protectors from Scotchgard™ and others can also add a layer of protection.

A home with 2 young children

Home is definitely where life happens.  And life can be messy sometimes, especially living with kids.  Using these ideas and making smart choices as you decorate your home for an active family lifestyle will help you wake up from the “kiddy coma” much sooner than you might have expected.



Most of us are goal oriented in some way, whether we realize it or not.  Maybe the goal is to lose weight or get a degree.  Perhaps it’s buy a new car or go on a special trip.  Dreaming, believing and achieving goals gives purpose to our lives, gets things done and keeps us moving forward.

One dream of many homeowners is to “finish” decorating their home.  You’d think that would be a reasonable goal!  While we work hard to help make that dream a reality, the reality is your home is never truly done.

But, don’t despair!  It’s not like there aren’t other elusive goals in life.  Is raising a child ever really a finished proposition?  Is your goal weight ever really permanent?  Some goals in life are constantly changing out of desire or necessity.  With ever evolving personal tastes and new trends in decor, your home is constantly in a state of change as it adapts to your family’s current lifestyle.

There are a few things you can do to help give your home a “finished” feeling even though it might never really be done.

1-  Choose fixtures and finishes with ‘staying’ power.  Rather than buying the latest and greatest, choose tried and true.  If it’s trendy now, chances are it’s going to have a short lifespan in the arc of decor.  Be happy with the fact that no matter what you choose, trends in home decor, as with fashion, are usually cyclical.  If you wait long enough, old becomes new again.

2-  While seemingly boring, neutral wall colors like creams, beiges, taupes, and greiges stand the test of time and changing tastes.  Swapping out colorful accents like rugs, pillows, artwork and window fashions is much easier than painting walls.

3- Along the same line as neutral wall colors, invest in upholstered furniture featuring neutrally colored and patterned fabrics.  Nothing dates upholstery faster than trendy colors or patterns (think paisley).  As with walls, you can always add punch to your ‘Plain Jane’ sofas and chairs with more trendy throw pillows and throws.

No matter what, embrace the fact that your home’s decor is always in a state of flux.  It can provide stability during times of great change in your personal life.  And it can give you the perfect opportunity to express your unique style when change is desired.

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433





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






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.


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!




The holidays are upon us!  No doubt, you’ve been busy the last week or so decking your own halls or at least planning your attack.  Family gatherings, lavish meals and festive decorations give us the warm and fuzzies this wonderful time of year.  While these traditions bring back special memories, it’s very easy to get in a rut when decorating for these special times of year.  You know what I’m talking about.  The tree goes here, the stockings go there and on and on!

Luckily, the principals of Redesign come to the rescue and work just us well this time of year!  Reusing, repurposing and restyling your cherished decorations in new and unexpected ways, you’ll ensure each holiday season stands out from the others.  Every year, we’re lucky to join in the celebrations of a few clients by showing them new and different ways to reuse their favorite holiday keepsakes, while introducing exciting new ones.

If you’ve followed us over the years, you’ll probably recognize some of these rooms and decorations.  To prove my point, take a look at some of the ways we were able to put a fresh spin on these client’s holiday decor.  I know our creations are sure to bring joy and warmth to all who gather in these beautiful homes:

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Nothing gives us more joy than sharing in the celebrations of our clients and friends.  Honoring wonderful family traditions by reusing and repurposing decorations to create a fresh, new holiday look makes this time of year all the more magical.  By helping bring joy to a few homes each year, we get to share our own special brand of Christmas cheer.

Happy Decorating and Happy Ho Ho Holidays from Decor Designs.


Driving to a bedroom restyle yesterday, I heard an ad on the radio.  It said, in part, the most important thing you’ll ever own are your dreams.  Talk about getting my attention!  I couldn’t agree more.  Without dreams, nothing ever changes.

I’m sure you’ve heard the motivational quote… “Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it.”   When I started thinking about, in a way, that’s exactly what our clients do.  First, they Dream of a new look for their home.  Then, they Believe that hiring us is the best way to make their dream come true.  Finally, working together, we Achieve the new look turning their dream into a reality.


Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.” – Debby Boone

I think it makes total sense.  If it weren’t for dreams, we’d have no inventions.  Without inventions, we wouldn’t have beautiful homes full of beautiful things.   And without designers and decorators who can dream the dream with you, we wouldn’t have beautiful spaces.

Not to beat the metaphor to death; but, if you have a dream of what you’d love your home to look like and you’re ready to plant the seed, we can help.  Together, we’ll grow your dream into something beautiful.

Sweet Dreams from Decor Designs, Inc.  815-245-2433





When have you ever heard that removing your jacket is more formal?  Like never!  Well let me tell you…. taking off a book’s dust jacket is a clear exception.

My client’s will confirm, no doubt, that I have an aversion to book jackets or dust covers as they’re sometimes called.  Generally more colorful than the book’s more neutral binding, they can be distracting when displayed.

Book Jackets

Let me give you an example…. In the past month alone, I have done three projects where the owners had the full series of Harry Potter books on display.  While certainly a classic collection to have on hand, the dust jackets leave much to be desired in a more ‘adult’ space.  Simply by removing the colorful artwork that covers the binding, you have a series of books that make a more ‘mature’ statement regardless of the teenage content!

Harry Potter Books

Of course, I’m not just picking on poor Harry Potter.  From John Grisham to Stephen King to Nora Roberts, any book looks better with the jacket removed in my opinion.  With a solid-color binding and print lettering, every genera of book is more suitable for a library or decorative display with the dust jacket removed.  Occasionally, especially with books heavy on photography, you’ll find that the glossy binding is the exact same as the jacket.  But even in those cases, the jacket can be removed.  Invariably jackets become tattered and worn on the edges and don’t look nice anyway.

So, unless you have a signed, original copy or limited print book that needs protection, go ahead and liberate your books by taking off their jackets.  Not only will they look better on your shelves, but no one will be the wiser whether you prefer to read the wizarding wonders of the ‘boy who lived’, the legal wranglings of Jake Brigance or bad boy turned good cop Cam Rafferty.

Happy Formal Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433


20160607_165152 (1) Like the shabby-chic, repurposed look? Check out this  decorating hack. I’ve seen vintage book sets like this online and  in stores from $15-30 per set or more. Seemed like a lot for old  books. So I bought a set I found at the local HomeGoods, gave  them a good once over and decided I could ‘Martha Stewart’  that myself!

Off to the used book store where I picked up some  hardcover books in the clearance section for about a $ buck  each. If you have some laying around somewhere, even better! (I looked for the ones with yellowing pages in hopes of  looking a bit more “authentic”.)  I brought them home and took  out my frustrations ripping the hard cover off! (It’s funny how  destroying something can be so therapeutic really.)

Now, to  practice my wrapping skills by tying three books together using  twine (you could use ribbon or lace) and finishing with a simple shoelace knot. Voila!… the same look for almost nothing. They make great filler for curios or risers for accessories. (Anything looks more important on a pedestal!)


Let me know if you add some shabby-chic books to your own decor. I’d love to see pics!