Tag Archives: Decorating Tips


Between now and Christmas, your seasonal home decor changes probably more than any other time of year.  Other than a few things in the Spring (aka Easter) or the 4th of July, seasonal decor generally doesn’t change much during the summer months.  Who has time to change up this kinda stuff with the kids out of school and vacations, right?

fall maple leaves


I love decorating for Fall!  Even better, it’s so easy to transition from Fall to Halloween and from Halloween to Thanksgiving without much effort.

Fall for most means colorful leaves, dried grasses, pumpkins, gourds, straw, corn and anything end of Summer.  Creating vignettes in your home with these natural items in mid to late September sets the stage for October and November holidays.

I’ve been known to say, “It’s not done ’til it’s overdone!”  But, with our ever-busier lives, I find we are all looking for ways to simplify both in terms of work and in terms of household accessories.  Less is best is faster, simpler and easier to clean around for any Season!

Adding seasonal touches in key areas will accomplish the same thing as decking the entire house with Fall decor.  Trying creating small displays of Fall in key focal areas like front doors and foyers, mantels and hearths and dining room tables.  Other areas for small touches of Fall can be a console or coffee table and the powder room counter.

autumn basket with gourds and pumpkins

Fall leaves and florals soften any accessories you might add and change throughout the Season.  Add those first!   Then nestle in your favorite “accessories” like gourds, pumpkins, Indian corn, small bales of hay, a vase filled with apples or nuts, candles and more. This list is practically endless.

Halloween Centerpiece


Early to mid-October, change out your Fall accessories with spookier touches for Halloween.  Pumpkins and gourds become Jack-o-lanterns, spiders, bones, bats, black cats, owls and tombstones fit the bill.  Adding touches of black with candles, florals and accessories immediately adds a more somber tone to your Fall decor.


cornucopia with fresh fruit







And, after the last trick-or-treater has rung the doorbell, it’s time to transition for Thanksgiving.

You can probably bring back a few of your previous harvest accessories and then add things associated with giving thanks. Cornucopias, pilgrims & indians and such play up the traditions in your decor for this special family time of year.

With a few simple changes, your Fall decor can transform so you’re ready for each holiday without having to reinvent the wheel.  With roughly 30 days between each, you’ll have time to enjoy each look before it’s time to tear it all down to make room for Christmas and Hanukkah.

We’d love to see your Fall vignettes.  Consider sharing some on our Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/CLDecorator/)

Happy Autumnal Equinox from Decor Designs!  815-245-2433







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Many of our decorating projects are house-sized.  Some are room-sized.  And a few projects are nothing more than one wall.  But, when it comes to helping our clients with their decorating dilemmas, no project is too big or too small.

This week, we had fun working with a couple in West Dundee on a gallery wall in their dining room.  Galleries are very popular and make for a dramatic focal point in any space.  Unlike hanging a single piece of art, however, they require a little more effort and planning and can be frustrating to get just right.

Vignette including Groot vase & Industrial Clock

Most galleries are created with framed art or family photos.  But like this one, gallery walls can be made with just about anything you can hang on a wall.  My personal favorites are ones that combine the two.

For this project, we used a group of vintage & industrial items our clients were given or had collected over the last year or more.  Many of them had a unique memory attached to them making them even more special.  From an old drink crate from back ‘home’ to a heart-shaped wine cork holder received as a wedding gift, this gallery (like most) is a visual reminder of family, friends and happy times.

Collections should have a variety of shapes and sizes for best results.  But, they should also have at least one common element to help unify the grouping.  Whether it’s a color, similar frames, a material or a repetitive shape, a common element  will make seemingly random items work together.

Creating an amazing gallery wall requires forethought and patience.  It isn’t an exact science! But, here are a few of our best tips to make it go more smoothly:

1-  Before hammering your first nail, plan your arrangement by laying out your artwork,  frames, shelves, boxes and any other items on the floor.   If you’re hanging a particularly heavy piece, you’ll want to locate studs and keep them in mind when planning your layout.  Otherwise, use a drywall anchor designed to support the weight.

2-  Larger items should be balanced by smaller ones while keeping the spacing between items fairly consistent.  As a general rule, leave more of a gap between larger items while keeping smaller ones closer together.  Play with the arrangement on the floor until you’re satisfied with the overall concept.  There aren’t any hard & fast rules so DON’T OVERTHINK IT!

Snapshot of gallery wall

3-  Once you’re happy with the arrangement, snap a photo of the completed grouping from above.  It’ll come in handy as a reference when you start moving things from the floor to the wall.

4-  Start in the center and work your way out referring to your snapshot.  The center of your main piece should be roughly 60 inches from the floor.  You may need to adjust slightly if your gallery is over a piece of furniture.

5-  Make sure you have appropriate hangers for the job.  Using two hangers per item, especially larger pieces, will keep them from shifting.  (You’ll be frustrated with your finished gallery if you’re constantly having to straighten it).  Velcro™ or Command Strips™ designed for wall surfaces can minimize holes for light-weight items.  They also work to discretely prevent shifting of pieces that just won’t seem to stay put.

6-  As you begin hanging, check for level after every piece.  If you plan to accessorize shelves, boxes or other baskets, do that temporarily as you go to ensure consistent spacing between your hangings.  Then remove these items before hammering your next piece to prevent breakage.

7-   Hanging multiples of artwork is always easier with a buddy.  Having one person hold a piece so the other can step away to get perspective and fine tune, will help avoid unnecessary holes in the wall.

8-  Once you have everything hung, you can go back and re-place accessories.

Completed gallery wall using collection of vintage and industrial items

Creating a gallery wall is essentially creating your own masterpiece using other people’s work.  Again, don’t overthink, be creative and think outside the box. The best results are usually the unpredictable ones!

Here’s to creating your own picture perfect gallery wall!  Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433.

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A newly finished basement space is full of possibilities.  And for a Palatine, IL family of four, in desperate need of more “living” space, finishing their basement was the perfect solution.

We met with these clients back in March as they were starting construction on the basement.  They envisioned a multi-purpose space including a workout room, media space and bar area.  They also wanted a new powder room and kitchenette in the basement for convenience.

After brainstorming ideas for the buildout, we waited until construction was completed.  Then, we returned in May to help with fixtures & finishes as well as to plan and furnish the newly-finished space.  The homeowners prefer a clean, simple and uncluttered look to make the space feel as large as possible.



While a big, comfy sectional might seem perfect, we didn’t want to be limited by one.  Sectionals are fairly inflexible and limit the possibilities in a room.  (DESIGN TIP:  When planning any space, especially one that’s multi-use, you have to ensure furnishings are size and scale appropriate.)



Instead, we designed the space so that the media area in the middle of the long rectangular space would anchor the room while leaving space for other uses.  Penny Mustard helped us with a new 75″ sofa which faces the t.v.  It is flanked by two low-back, swivel tub chairs which can easily be turned toward the sofa for conversation or the tv for movies and games.  A leather ottoman grounds the seating group.  And topped with a tray, it doubles as both cocktail table and footrest.  X-frame side tables and a matching console table from Pottery Barn provide a spot for drinks and finish the seating group.



In front of the kitchenette, we added an espresso wood table and four stools.  Whether for board games with the kids or game night for the guys, those seated at this counter-height still have a clear view of the television.

The kitchenette was designed with upper and lower cabinets and exposed shelving for storage complete with wine/beer fridge, sink and recycling center.  We selected a mercury-glass subway tile backsplash for the entire wall to reflect light and help the small space feel larger. We added a wall-mount wine rack from wineracksamerica.com to store reds and keep the small countertop as uncluttered as possible.













In the powder room, we used the same white cabinetry and granite countertop as in the adjacent kitchenette.  The bright white cabinet and light granite countertops make the small spaces feel larger.  Using the same finishes in both spaces provides visual continuity and prevents either space from feeling choppy and stand-alone.  The same large 12×36 wood-look floor tile also flows through both spaces.  (DESIGN TIP:  Large tiles with fewer grout lines make small spaces feel bigger.)













In the workout area, as well as the rest of the space, we were asked to reuse as many of the homeowner’s existing art pieces as possible.  Professionally framed golf, sports and marathon prints coupled with a few new pieces add a casual, man-cave feel to the space.










We added cellular shades to hide unsightly window wells.  Greenery and a few accessories add the final touches to a space that has added both value to the home and will serve the family with additional living space for years to come.

If you’re working on a space with overwhelming potential, give us a call.  We can help you make sense of your own basement full of possibilities.  815-245-2433


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Do This!  Don’t Do That!  For every rule that has ever been made, I think there is an almost implied challenge to try and break it.  That has never seemed more true than today in every walk of life and has always been true in interior design.

In a world where it’s easy to feel compartmentalized by labels and associations, we sometimes struggle to identify as an individual.  Your style (whether it’s the car you drive, the clothes you wear or the way you decorate your home) should be a statement about you as a unique being in the Universe.  And while it’s human nature to gravitate toward ‘like-minded’ individuals, nothing new has ever been created by being a copycat!

Strangely, one of our first priorities with every client is giving them permission to be themselves.  It’s as if they feel that working with a professional somehow trumps their own personality and sense of style.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

I’m sure you’ve heard the adage attributed to Oscar Wilde, “Be Yourself!  Everyone Else Is Already Taken!”  That is exactly what we strive for with our clients as we guide them through the process of restyling their living spaces.  That’s not to say we ignore what’s popular or trendy.  But, it is important to take that trend and somehow customize it in a way unique to them.

With that in mind, here are a few of the most common decorating challenges every homeowner faces when updating their decor.  Along with them are some decorating “rules” and simple ways you can customize them to make them uniquely yours.


So many clients are afraid of color.  They’re afraid they’ll go to the time and expense of painting only to hate the way it looks when they’re done.  Is there a fool proof rule?  NO!  But there are some tricks to help lessen the chances you’ll end up with an Oops!

Contemporary Gray & White Kitchen with Punch of Orange

Begin with a neutral color that is on trend.  “Greige” is the obvious choice these days.  Pair that color with another neutral to compliment it.  Let’s say cream or off-white.  Finally add your own personality with a ‘punch’ color you love.  That color can be introduced in accessories, window fashions, art and rugs.  Whether you go with bold hues of teal, yellow, blue, pink or even orange as pictured here…., almost all are guaranteed to work.

The end result is a color story in your home grounded by current neutrals including touches of your own flair & style.


Kids… there only so many ways to build furniture.  At the end of the day, while the style and fabric may vary, a sofa is a sofa is a sofa.  Akin to the fear of making a mistake with paint choices, many clients are paralyzed by the thought of buying new furniture.  What if the fabric is dated in a couple years?  What if it isn’t comfortable?  What if I move?  “WHAT IFs” are generally NOT life and death decisions.  They are your brain walking you through the process of justifying the decision your gut has already made.  Trusting your gut instinct will generally guide you where you need to be.

Neutral Beige & Cream Living Room with punches of Gold & Teal

With furniture, first, don’t pick a style, pattern or color that screams for attention.  Chances are those have the best chance of being very dated, very quickly.  Instead, select furniture staples including seating and case goods which are classically styled with more neutral fabrics and subdued patterns.  As a rule, medium dark wood tones are always in style and will likely stand the test of time.

Add your own flair to these classics with throw pillows that compliment your decor.  As with paint, neutral furnishings come to life with the right combination of pillows and throws.  Those items are more easily interchangeable and can represent your own personal taste and style at any given moment or season.


Investing in artwork can be intimidating.  Thank goodness artwork doesn’t always have to come from a gallery with a gallery price tag in order to make a statement.

Multi-color Artwork to suit Any Color Palette



Since your taste is ever changing as you age, so will your taste in art.  So unless, you are in love with a particular artist, a safer bet is to select pieces that are timeless in style and include a multitude of different colors.  That way, no matter what color trend you’re following at the time, chances are it’ll be represented in your artwork.

And when it comes to personalization, by all means, DO NOT use family photos as a substitute.  They are NOT artwork.







Accessories, and how to use them successfully, are the single largest challenge for most clients.  Fortunately, and generally speaking, accessories represent the least expensive component of your decor and can be rotated out depending on the season or mood you want to convey.

Make an investment in larger statement pieces and fill in around them with books, boxes, greenery, florals and other cost-effective elements to complete a vignette.  Following the rule of odd numbers of items will always make accessories look more casual and “conversational”.  Mixing shapes is also key to making them look professionally styled.

For example, stack two or three large coffee table books or a decorative box on a table or dresser.  On top, add a wow piece like a wooden statue or hand blown glass vase.  This is a perfect opportunity to show off things you’ve collected from a favorite vacation or family members.  Finally, soften harsh edges with a plant or other something with an irregular shape or texture.



Manufactured necessity is part of our culture.  We have been conditioned to want and therefore need the latest style, color and trend of almost everything that we touch in life.

By making smart choices in paint, furniture, artwork and accessories, you can avoid being paralyzed with fear when it comes to your home decor.

Following the rule of choosing classically styled, neutral paint and furniture and pairing it with artwork and accessories that follow your own current style or trends will give longevity to your look and negate the need to reinvent the wheel with every passing fancy.


Rules, especially those for decorating, serve as guidelines and are created in your own best interest.  But, don’t be afraid to break them if the end result is a better way of expressing what makes you uniquely you!

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




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New Years equal new beginnings.  So, it’s no surprise to think of the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one as a chance to start with a clean slate.  Traditionally, we set goals and make resolutions to improve our health & relationships or go on a much needed vacation.  And sometimes, we decide to tackle those decorating projects we’ve been ignoring.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Thoughts become things!”  While true, thoughts without action rarely manifest into reality.  Thinking of and setting goals is one thing.  But, it’s important to set ones we truly believe we have the tenacity and will power to accomplish.  Otherwise, failure just becomes one more self-imposed disappointment for the year.

Let’s say you’re mulling over a new kitchen in the New Year.  Yet, you have no idea where the funds will come from to pay for it.  Maybe, you need to set a more realistic goal.  That doesn’t mean you can’t want or plan for a new kitchen.  But, perhaps this year’s goal is simply beginning with new appliances.

A common complaint we hear from clients throughout the year is not knowing where to start.  Many are so overwhelmed by the number of decisions to be made with any decorating project, they procrastinate, or worse, never start at all.

Our advice to them is similar to that of making New Year’s resolutions.  Set realistic, achievable goals for your decor rather than letting fear of the final result keep you from beginning.

As we set our own personal and business goals for 2018, we look forward to and are thankful for the opportunity to work with as many of you as possible to help you meet your own decorating & home improvement goals.

Our mission statement reads in part:   “Décor Designs, Inc. believes in helping homeowners with their decorating goals, dilemmas and the evolution of their living spaces.

If you’ve set a goal to redecorate a part or all of your home in the New Year, don’t let fear of making mistakes keep you from reaching your goal.  Another good resolution might be to ask for help!  In that case, we are standing by to guide you and help you create the beautifully redecorated space you set out to achieve.

Here’s to reaching all your goals and to a Happy & Healthy New Year from all of us at Decor Designs!


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Having visited hundreds of homes over the years, we’ve seen a lot of great ideas and even more decorating don’ts & near-misses.  So, if you think there’s just something not quite right about your own decorating, you’re definitely not alone.  As much as every home and its decor is unique in some way, the majority share common problems that we’ve helped fix.  Over time, we’ve been able to compile a list of the most common decorating problems shared by those we’ve helped.

So here’s some FREE decorating therapy on how to recognize the problems you might have in your own home and some simple suggestions for fixing them.

The ten most common decorating problems, in no particular order, we encounter are:


Mini blinds and blinds in general are not window treatments!  While they offer privacy and light control, they rarely enhance your decor.  Try pairing them with floor-length fabric panels hung at least halfway between the ceiling and top of the window or higher for a more refined and decorative look.  If you only want blinds, some treatments, like Hunter Douglas’ Silhouettes™ , offer clean-lined style combining the light control and privacy of a blind with a soft sheer treatment for a more contemporary look.


Changing colors in every room in your home creates sensory overload.  Try painting your open common areas with different shades of the same color to unify those areas.  In rooms closed off to the main living area by a door, you can be a little more random in color choices.  Keep in mind, however, that a good color story includes repeating colors throughout the home.  If you have a teal powder room, for example, then teal pillows on the family room sofa would be a good repetition of that color.


Artwork doesn’t have to match the color palette in your room but should compliment the style of your decor.  Family photos are NOT artwork (see below).  And most important of all, artwork should be paired with the furniture and other items in your room rather than hanging too far above them.  Hang artwork about 6-8″ above a piece of furniture (i.e. sofa or table). And for free floating art, hang it approximately 60″ from the floor to the center of the piece.


Good design involves layering.  From floor coverings, to accessories, to window treatments and more, layering elements rather than having a series of stand-alone objects helps create a cozier, more attractive design.  Put an area rug in your room, even if it’s on top of carpet to create a ‘room within a room’.  Rugs provide added color, pattern and visual interest.  (NOTE:  Don’t float a rug in the middle of the room.  Instead, make sure it is touching/mated with the furniture in the room.)  Feel free to stack books on the coffee table topped with a vase of flowers or your favorite accessories for more height and drama.  Lamps are a great way to enhance your decor and fill in that void of “nothing”.  And it’s ok if items overlap!


Overhead lighting isn’t the most flattering light for you or your decor.  Spread at least three lamps evenly throughout a room trying to create a triangle of lighting when possible.  This will help eliminate dark corners in the room, provide more flattering light and will add another layer (see #4) filling in the vertical void between the top of your seating furniture and the top of your window treatments or artwork.


While layering (#4) is great.  Too much of a good thing, like too many color changes (#2) in a space, creates sensory overload.  Your eye travels the room encountering so many elements that they all blend into visual noise.  “Negative space” in design refers to the area around an object.  Without ample negative space (think nothing) between accessories, artwork and furniture, you run the risk of having a space that looks cluttered rather than designed.


While most rooms are built around the expected furniture for their use, accessories are the detail that give the room personality and life.  Finding the right balance between enough accessories and too many (See Clutter) is a problem that confounds many homeowners.  If you need help, pay attention to the accessories the next time you shop for furniture.  A well- merchandised furniture showroom will group accessories and keep them to a minimum. You should too!


It’s especially hard for more sentimental clients to give up the family photos they have all over their walls and tables.  Having 1-2 larger photos on tables and nightstands is fine.  For all your other framed family pics, consider creating a gallery wall mixed with 3D objects like clocks, word art etc… keep a couple of your favorite shots for side tables or night stands and restrict the rest to photo walls in hallways or similar spaces. You and your guests can enjoy the photos up close where faces are visible as opposed to viewing them from across the room.


Image courtesy of Houzz

Nothing is more predictable than buying everything on page 23 out of your favorite home decor catalog.  We’ll just call that ‘Decorating for Dummies’ and leave it at that!  While there are obvious exceptions like matching bedroom, dining or table sets, push yourself to think outside the box and create an eclectic mix of complimentary styles and finishes.  And remember, wood tones do NOT have to match.


Image courtesy of Overstock

Trends are just that….temporary obsessions.  Whether it’s a wall color like gray, or a specific pattern like chevron, fads come and go and can quickly “date” your decor.  If you just have to have the latest and greatest in your decor, consider introducing it in small amounts and in things that are easily changed.  In other words, don’t upholster your sofa with paisley fabric.  Save that, instead, for the throw pillows you can replace when the next trend comes along.

As you can see, many of the most common decorating problems we encounter are multi-faceted.  One problem and its solution can impact other decisions you make as you take inventory of your own decor.  As you look around and reevaluate your own decorating choices and pitfalls, hopefully these tips will help you Fix It Yourself in no time.

Happy Decorating from Decor Designs.  815-245-2433

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This summer, we’ve had fun putting the finishing touches on a very unique indoor/outdoor space for a couple in Bull Valley, Illinois.  Our clients, who purchased the home about a year ago, weren’t quite sure how they wanted to use this bright and lofty space.  But with so much space just off the main living areas of the home, they knew it could be something pretty unique.  Why not create an ‘Any Season’ room?

At first glance, you’d think the long, rectangular room was an addition to this secluded, country home.  With skylights, exposed staircase and beams and sliding doors along both sides, it felt like a three-season room.  However, this room was actually part of the original owner’s design.  Comprising over 450 square feet, we knew this room could be so much more than a seasonal space!



So, after living in the house for a while, the new owners decided they needed the room to have multiple functions rather than just the sunroom one might expect.  They asked for a small home office/organizational area.  The idea here was to help keep mail and papers off the kitchen counters and dining table.  With the rest of the space, they wanted to add a bar area for storage and display.  They also wanted an additional dining table to be used for morning coffee, casual, intimate meals in addition to doubling as a game table when entertaining friends.

As with a lot of projects, we started with paint.  Woods like oak and pine tend to yellow and/or orange over time.  Any shade of green or blue on the walls nearby will only enhance it.  So, we started by neutralizing the sage/mint green paint on both ends of the room to compliment the wood.  Sherwin Williams 7031 Mega Greige did the trick.  Painting over the wood paneling around the exterior sliding doors also helped unify the space and make it feel more like part of the home rather than an addition.


















Per our client’s request, on one end of the room, we added a beautiful live-edge desk in keeping with the feel of the space.  To it, we added a distressed black storage cabinet and copper wall pockets for organization.  On the opposite end, we added a beautiful reclaimed-wood bar cabinet from Crate & Barrel.  We paired the bar with two wingback chairs for after-dinner drinks or cocktails.

















In the middle of the space, we added a round rug made from recycled denim and jute.  On it, we grouped a rustic 60″ round, cross-frame pedestal table from Houzz.com along with five bleached wood, upholstered chairs from Pier 1.

Reusing artwork from family and friends, adding a few accessories and keeping things clean and minimal, we were able to add warmth and function allowing the family to grow into the space over time.

Rather than using it as expected, this three season room wanna-be is now perfect for ANY season.  Thinking outside the box, we created a space that’s both beautiful and useful.  And since our wonderful couple is paying a mortgage and taxes on the space, why not get the most use out of it?

What rooms in your home aren’t getting used to their full potential?  If you could use some help thinking outside the box, let us know.  Happy Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc.  815-245-2433

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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.

Image courtesy of decoholic.org

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



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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.


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Beautiful spaces are a dime a dozen.  Fill a space with the trendiest, most expensive decor you can find.  And while it’s pretty to look at, it still isn’t home.  So, what makes a house a home?  It’s family.

Creating common spaces that suit the needs of a family is probably the single most important task any decorator will tackle.  Of course, you want it to be beautiful.  But, it also has to function well for every member of the household, no matter how young or old.

Consider a home to three young adults and their parents.  The home is a hub of activity for friends and family almost every day of the week.  All are coming and going either from college or work.  Whether just for family or casual entertaining, updating and enhancing the primary living space in this home needed to fit their busy lifestyles.



That pretty much describes this project we’ve just finished in Hoffman Estates, IL.  The project focused on restyling a large combo family & living room in this beautiful home.  While we wanted to create two distinctive spaces with their own function and personality, both needed to play together when needed as one unit.



Working with a generous budget, we were able to replace dated and worn furniture with all new seating.  Two durably upholstered sofas provide comfortable seating or lounging in the t.v. space.  Nearby, we grouped four new leather club chairs around the fireplace as more of a conversation space.   New reclaimed wood and metal nesting tables were separated to give plenty of spots to set a drink.  New Santa Fe storage trunks double as coffee and end tables.  New lamps, artwork, accessories and area rugs complete the spaces.



While each area serves it’s own purpose, with a few simple moves, the leather chairs can be repositioned nearer the television for movie night or game day parties.

As we suggested, the homeowners repositioned one and refinished both built-in bookcases.  Darkening the wood work and mantel with gel stain and painting the brass fireplace surround with heat resistant bronze metallic paint gave the fireplace an updated and much stronger presence in the rooms.

The end result is a space that has already wowed family and friends.  It’s sure to get thorough use in the months and years ahead.

Decorating a room for family is more than just adding trendy furniture and accessories.  It’s about creating a space that blends form with function and provides a hub for friends and family to make a home

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


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