Ask Design Mom: Interior Design Help

August 3, 2011

I want to make my home a little more grown up and entertainment friendly and I’m pretty sure I need some professional help. How do I go about finding someone that can help me freshen up my home without going all out and hiring a designer? Or, do designers do this sort of thing? I don’t really want to purchase a lot of new items, I just want to use what I have and make it better! Help! — Christy Nelson

Hi Christy! I love your question. And yes, there are designers who do exactly what you’re describing. They’ll come to your home and work with what you have. For sure! The best way to find them locally, is to start making inquiries. Call a few interior designers and tell them the kind of services you’re looking for. If they can’t help you, they’ll probably know someone who can.

Another option is to get an online consultation. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic and listed four services that offer interior design served up over the internet. You send in images of your space and you get back suggestions. For very reasonable rates. You can find the links here.

Your turn, Dear Readers. Who or what would you recommend to Christy?

image via Oh Happy Day

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Janan W August 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

I do alot of magazine and internet searching, looking for ideas that I can incorporate. Crazy thing, that blue cabinet in the picture above? I saw that and searched out the dicontinued item on craigs list and bought it for cheap! It is a slower process than bringing in a designer I am sure, but it works for me. Especially since I know what I like. If you’re unsure perhaps a designer would be better for you.


2 Amy H. August 3, 2011 at 9:49 am

Some years ago, I happened upon a book called “Use What You Have Decorating.” It’s exactly this sort of thing, and it’s proved extremely useful to keep coming back to. The author is Lauri Ward, and she also has a company called Use What You Have Decorating; the website is That site can help you find someone with this approach in your area (if you’re not in NY or FL, which are the main areas her company serves).


3 Susan August 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

I offer online services, mostly geared towards baby/kids, but would be happy to talk to you about your needs (reader) Christy!


4 Carol F. August 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

I wanted the same thing, Christy, and found the solution through the owner of my favorite boutique-y furniture store. Her services were $55/hr and she spent two hours at my house. We went room by room and I wrote down everything she said on drawings of my house on a clipboard. She even right then helped me move my bed to a different wall or moved end tables to a new place. I was thrilled!! So worth it. A year later I am still referring to my notes and implementing her ideas. It has been so fun and such a great use of those initial funds. My suggestion is to go to your favorite boutique and ask their hourly rate. Around here (Arizona) it is $50-70 and I’ve heard similar for Utah. Good luck!


5 Megan August 3, 2011 at 1:44 pm

You could look into InCircle Interiors- they do it all online and you can pay as little or as much as you want- they specialize in helping those with a tight budget.


6 Lori C. August 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I cannot believe how much inspiration I am finding in my own home! Sometimes I just need a little Pinterest time or a few magazine images and I realize I already have what I need. Sometimes it might need a new coat of paint or some fresh fabric, but usually all it needs is a room change.


7 courtney August 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

um, is it totally tacky if i tell you about my business? i guess i’m tacky then. check out kelly + olive, christy!


8 Rebekah August 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Don’t hire a designer; just my opinion. You can do it yourself…you really can! I just stumbled on I think it’s great for getting ideas the fastest way possible. You can find stuff like a patio couch and headboards made from pallets which you can usually find for free! And I’m talking cute stuff, not junk.

I uploaded pics of my home on HGTV’s Rate-My-Space and next thing I knew one of their producers called me! That’s another story but my point is that I furnished and decorated my entire house with low-cost, free, or refurbished items that I already had. I made a point of it. I’m doing the same thing for our cabin at I am furnishing the entire 600 sq ft, including kitchen cabinets, for under $1000.

You can search Craigslist for free items but do yourself a favor and install CraigsEasy. You can’t believe how much time that will you save you in your searches.

Happy decorating,



9 Maggie February 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I need help with my log cabin – great room. We are painting the interior wall gold and have thought about painting the pine cathedral ceiling leaving the beams natural. It is not a bright room with all the wood (3 walls, floors and furniture) Any advice on this I would love to hear.



10 Diane @ kitchen-dreams August 4, 2011 at 12:00 am

Like Carol F, in the reply above, I hired the owner of a local shop that sells recovered and painted used furniture, affordable artwork, beautiful lamps/lights, one-of-a kind accessories…to come to our home for 2 hours and took notes on everything she said. At the time she charged $60/hr. She got a sense of what we liked and took it from there. Some things that I was unsure were working in our home she said were great. It was very validating and gave me a better sense of my/our style. She had lots of great ideas that didn’t require a lot of money.


11 Anjali August 4, 2011 at 2:53 am

I follow this blog . It has a lot of practical and good advice. Maria who writes this blog also offers online consultancy.


12 sona January 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Be sure you ask all the right questions before paying. My daughter paid for advice on line. Admittedly her home is very large, but the advice was to basically tear this out and that out (walls, fireplaces etc which is not what she was prepared to do) None of the info was usable without spending $$$$$$$$ and the charge was several hundred dollars. None was refunded.


13 Johanna August 4, 2011 at 10:41 am

Her name is Leah Moses (, and she is fabulous. I consider myself a designy/color-savvy person, but when I had blind spots when it came to my own living space. Leah used all stuff she found in my house, so it was cheap and everything had meaning and personal value to begin with. She rearranged the furniture, designed the bookcases, put beautiful arrangements of stuff I would never have considered wall art on the walls, tweaked my existing curtains, and overall made my house gorgeous and fresh and feel more like my own home, like it represented me more . Am I gushing? Do I sound like I’m gushing? I was thrilled. My husband liked it too, and when we moved, wanted her to come do the same thing in our new house. One happy unexpected outcome: I’ve felt more confident doing the same thing in other parts of the house since seeing my own things beautifully combined and arranged.

FYI, we worked out a trade arrangement for payment.


14 Johanna August 4, 2011 at 11:36 am

Oh, also fyi, she worked for me in UT and ID.


15 bdaiss August 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Another cheap & easy idea – find a friend whose style you love and ask her/him for help! Those of us who love to decorate love to share too. It’s fun to get to play with other people’s stuff once in awhile. : )


16 Dorothy August 6, 2011 at 5:39 am

I’d like to add that I love the blog


17 Alicia August 11, 2011 at 9:54 am

I recently moved into a new condo that is basically a blank canvas for me to do whatever I want. So far, I’ve picked out paint colors and throw pillows and the works but I’ve run into a road block. I have these chairs that I acquired in college; they’re amazing but I don’t know what to do with them. What kind of table do I get? How do I get them to go with everything else in my home? Here’s a link to the chairs I have:

How do I incorporate these into my new little home??


18 katelyn July 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

where can i find cool horse themed decorations for my room! i can’t find any!


19 alesha August 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I was wondering what color would you recommend for the walls in my living room if i have gray couches with silver and teal pillows? i was thinking a shade of purple.. not bright purple but more of a grayish purple? or idk i’ve looked at so many colors and my mind is so jumbled right now haha


20 Terri August 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm

We’re updating our guest bathroom with travertine and small glass squares in various cool colors as trim. We purchased an above glass basin in a deep brown with swirls of gold and various hues of browns…all very warm colors. Our light fixture and faucet are both oiled bronze. The walls are a cream colored. I want to paint the frame around the large mirror along with the front of the cabinet. What color(s) will compliment the cool colors of the travertine and trim with the warmth of the basin?
Help! We can’t send the new sink back.


21 Mari November 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I have 3 pieces that I love for my bed but I don’t know what duvet cover / comforter to get and how to accessorize it, the theme I want for my room is Luxury Hollywood Glam…. the three things are 1) Anna Nicole Smith’s Guess Pillow 2) White faux fur throw 3) Gold/Mocha Satin Sheets [which I'm not attached to]…





22 Marie November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am

Hi. I was wondering if anyone has ever used angle racks as an entertainment center and/or book case. I have about 4 of those, and no budget to buy more furniture, so if anyone has suggestions, kindly tell me. :)


23 Don December 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

i an removing all the popcorn ceiling in my house and was wondering if all my ceilings should be white? i will be putting up crown moulding which will also be white.


24 Tracy April 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

We have bought a new home and need to buy a flooring and I am stumped. Doors all solid light oak. Kitchen is plain white. Work top is white with spec of blue and green. What colour / type of flooring should we install.


25 Gabriela May 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

Hi Gabrielle,

I love your blog…can’t get enough ;-) I need a little inspiration for my home office. Our living room and dining area is an open plan. This is all we have to work with… How can I incorporate a home office, when we are limited to space. Please help.. My home business is struggling to be organized..and might I add. We are a family of five…11 month Oliva, 7yr Sofia, and 8yr Jonathan. I am currently using our kitchen table and bay window for storage and work. Please help!!


26 Annelle July 28, 2013 at 11:50 pm

we are build­ing a new home and are stuck at what color to choose for our blinds. i love the color espresso and picked espresso cab­i­nets for the kitchen and bath­rooms, a golden yel­low gran­ite with hints of red in the kitchen, crisp khaki paint, and most of fur­ni­ture is espresso ex­cept our couch will be lighter to not be so dark if we de­cide to go with espresso blinds. would it look ok to have real wood 2 inch espresso blinds? it is a 2 story home in Gilbert Ari­zona. its 1800 sqauare feet. I in­tend on light­en­ing ev­ery­thing else up; ac­cent walls, pil­lows, wall decor etc if we go with the espresso blinds. I like decor from pier 1 im­ports, pot­tery barn, Z Gallery etc. If not peo­ple say go with off white. So con­fused and stuck and have to make a de­ci­sion in 2 weeks. Also need to keep in mind that I love earth tones and warm tones so all of the fix­tures will be vene­tian bronze even door hard­ware and light­ing. which one should we choose? off white wood or espresso wood blinds? Thank you so much for your help!!


27 Liz September 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I don’t want my living room to be formal I was thinking of putting confortable chairs and a loveseat and an ottoman in there with a desk for decoration what do you think of that idea of the desk or should I not use the desk ? Kind of Ralph Lauren look


28 Susan October 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

Can I put a colored glass table lamp on a clear glass topped table, or is that a no-no? The only reason I’m considering it is that we have an open kitchen/living room and it would tie in nicely with the colored glass lights above my kitchen island.


29 Marc November 16, 2013 at 5:15 am

Hi, We are creating a new kitchen, and really excited. The cupboard units will be grey, and the worktops were planned on being granite black (but open to suggestions). We would like wood floor – what colour or shade of wood should we opt for? Dont really want grey wood if possible And what colour tiles? Myself and my wife are at loggerheads and need some impartial advice from an expert with an eye for a colour scheme – before we kill each other! Please help! Thanks in advance


30 Ekaterina Reier December 4, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Hi! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP! I am really stressing over this one wall that I had the guts to paint burgundy. Don’t get me wrong – I love the color, and the wall has a fireplace and two lovely windows, BUT it is uneven and eggshell paint shows off all imperfections. So I need to do something about it. I need help figuring out what:
1) I could paint it with flat paint, but I feel like that wall is missing something. May be if I do that, I should add crown molding for a more formal look? We are going for old world feel
2) I could use damask burgundy gold wallpaper on that wall. I love the idea but I have one problem – there is a stained glass that I made that is installed over the fireplace, its design is kinda busy and its primary color is green. It has a 2.5” gold frame around it. Do you think that it would look too busy on damask wallpaper? Also, I do have the two windows. If I use damask wallpaper, should I go for curtains of a different color with burgundy elements in them, or pick a different color entirely (but obviously smth that works with the room)? ARGH, I am so torn – this is supposed to be fun, but I am not having too good of a time trying to figure this out! PLEASE HELP!!!!


31 Michael January 11, 2014 at 4:25 am

Hi Karen,

Thank you for your time to read my email, we are buying a house with a classic black and white style kitchen, white units with black granite top.
The kitchen floor is medium stained low gloss pine.
We need to buy a kitchen table and chairs but not sure of which colour to choose that will fit and not clash?
Any advice would be great.

Kind regards


32 Will March 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I am trying to get curtains for a window that is 58″ wide x 59″ long.
I have been searching stores for curtains that are approx. 1.5-2x the width (87-116″), but there don’t seem to be any curtains of this length.
I am using this 1.5-2x rule because I saw online that having curtains of this extra length makes the window look better, possibly more luxurious. With this, very few stores have curtains I can use, and even less have the blackout curtains I’m hoping for.
Am I setting this up right? How should curtains be purchased for this type of window?
Thank you so much!


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34 jenny October 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

my walls are beige and i have a orchid color comforter what color curtains would make the bedroom pop


35 Aimee November 30, 2014 at 10:46 am


I’m looking for a rug that will compliment a chair I’d like to buy :

Unfortunately, I fear that the only option I have is something solid and boring. Our furniture is a neutral tan, along with the walls. We have earthy pops of color, but this chair would certainly become more of a focal point if I got it. My general taste is earthy, dark woods, comfortable and mostly contemporary. Any suggestions?


36 Lenin December 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Me and my wife are buying our first home and she fell in love with these chairs in the home we saw staged. All I have is a picture can I send you picture see if you have ever seen these bar stool? I would love to surprise her for Christmas , thank you for your time


37 Janelle February 3, 2015 at 9:55 am

We just bought a new house and the living room is long and narrow and I am having trouble decorating/arranging furniture. The room is 23 X 11 with a bay window on the west 11 foot end and a patio door on the east 11 foot end. There is a beautiful stone fireplace about 5 feet down the north 23′ wall, entrance from the front hall is at the west end of the south wall and entrance from the kitchen is about 8 feet in from the eat along the south wall. Any help placing furniture would be great!! Thanks so much!!


38 Julia July 26, 2015 at 6:14 am

Help ! Before moving into our new home I had the painters come in and paint the entire home nebulous white from sherwin Williams. It has taken on quite a light blue tinge ! Due to the lighting etc.,

How do I bring back more of the gray without having to repaint the whole house ?


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