Professional design tricks for your home

By Kristy Alpert 

In a perfect world, we would all have a neighbor who delights in donating his talents as a DIY decorator or an interior designer as a best friend. Unfortunately, all too often we’re left to our own devices with little or no help from the pros. But designing on your own doesn’t have to be daunting; with a few tips, almost anyone can tackle their own space!

“I am a firm believer that first-time homeowners should have a consultant help them with the finishes, like paint, countertops and flooring, but that they should otherwise embrace the decorating process alone,” says Hilari Younger, designer and HGTV “Design Star” and “Design Star All-Stars” finalist. “A fool proof way to gage whether or not you should enlist a designer is if you are using words like ‘overwhelming,’ ‘confusing,’ ‘stressing/stressful,’ ‘indecisive’ or ‘conflicting.’” Design should be fun!

We all want our homes to look like they’ve been decorated by a professional designer, but not many of us can afford to hire someone to help us. We spoke with four generous interior designers who agreed to spill their secrets and give us one go-to trick that they love. Incorporate these ideas and your house will look like it’s been decorated by a professional.

Brenda Baker, owner of Inside Story Design and Renovation

“Group accessories in threes,” advises Baker. “For example, use three different but coordinating picture frames in a grouping on a wall; use three different heights of candles as a centerpiece on your dining room table; use three colors for a scheme in a room, one strong and two as accents. If you like to use real flowers as gifts or centerpieces you can use the Story of 3s as well by grouping three colors of flowers in a triangular pattern to create an interesting and balanced arrangement.”

Kim Colwell, owner of Kim Colwell Design

“To make the design compelling and inviting, I always begin with the floor plan,” Colwell states. “I first stand at the front door and look for ways to use the main furniture, such as seating to draw me into the room. You can conjure up an immediate visceral feeling from anyone who walks in if you face the main seating to the front door and place a strong design element in the far corner to draw the eye to it. By turning the seating to face you as you enter, the environment shifts from cold to warm.”

Eddy Doumas, principal and owner of Worth Interiors

“Textured wallpaper adds a sense of depth to a room,” Doumas exclaims. “You don’t necessarily need to wallpaper all of the walls in a room. Sometimes, as in our new custom-designed units at Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail, we only do the headboard wall in a bedroom or one wall in the living room as an accent wall.”

Hilari Younger, designer and HGTV “Design Star” and “Design Star All-Stars” finalist.

“Often, new homeowners are young adults who will change their minds about what their design style is at least twice before settling into a look,” Younger says. “If an interior designer tells you they have ‘tricks,’ you should run, not walk, the other direction. A person should get to know their likes and dislikes before committing to any design.”

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