Five Ways Good Design Can Help You Doze

How Incorporating Natural Design Elements Can Help You Sleep Better

Last month, I traversed Italy, sleeping in a dozen different hotels. During one particular stay, I couldn’t help but notice artwork that featured leaves alongside a creamy brown headboard. While the design was modern, it definitely had a natural feel because of the design elements. The design was no accident. Nature has a calming effect on both the mind and body and smart hotel managers know that. You can and should use natural design for a similar relaxing effect in your bedroom.

1. Houseplants

Probably one of the most obvious yet most overlooked elements to add to a bedroom are houseplants. Not only do they bring the colors, textures, and scents of nature into your bedroom, but they also clean the air.

NASA conducted a study and put out a long list of houseplants that remove biotoxins like formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air. Fresh air can improve the depth and quality of your sleep. Plants like English ivy, peace lily, mother-in-law’s tongue, and the bamboo palm all made the list. To find the right plant for you, look for plants that are easy to care for in your climate. Some plants naturally humidified the air while others require very little watering. Look for a balance between aesthetics and ease of care to meet your lifestyle needs.

2. Artwork

Artwork depicting natural elements like leaves, trees, mountains, and landscapes can have as much of an effect on your psyche as actual plants. While you won’t get the scents of nature, you can still see the texture and enjoy the natural colors in your bedroom. Work from local artists will often complement your interior the best because they usually depict local plants and scenes.

3. Don’t Forget Texture

Texture brings depth to a space. Wood is the most obvious choice. Nightstands, dressers, and accents with natural or weathered finishes that allow you to see and feel the texture work well. But, there are a few other options that might work better for you. Stone and brick also have a natural look and feel you normally find in the outdoors. Again, by looking for local sources, you can support your community and find pieces that fit the design and architecture of your home.

4. Make the Bed Naturally

Your bed, which has the most to do with your nightly comfort, can also be a place include natural elements. You want to make sure you have a good foundation first. That means a mattress that supports your weight and preferred sleep style. After that, bedding in natural fibers like cotton and linen can bring you back to your roots. While linen works best in the summer, cotton can be used year-round, depending on the weave of the fabric.

5. Let Light In, but Manage It Right

Nothing feels more natural than sunlight streaming in your windows. A beautifully well-lit bedroom can make you feel at home. However, for the best sleep, you’ll need to manage your light right. Light pollution coming in your windows at night can disrupt your sleep cycle. Try sheer curtains that disperse light layered with blinds, blackout curtains, or heavy drapes to block out light at night.

Bringing nature indoors can be the perfect way to create a bedroom oasis. Use your lifestyle and design preferences to find the natural pieces that are right for you.

If you need some help selecting those natural elements, or anything else in your home or business, let me know.


Photo by Dibble Photography for Chancellor Designs.

I'm back....and better than ever!

Hello, everyone!

It's been WAY too long since I've blogged.  This is because life has taken me on the craziest, wildest ride. 

If you've been following, you know I am in the middle of a divorce from my husband of 20 years.  It has been the most excruciating experience of my life.  I wouldn't wish divorce on my worst enemy.  It's taken much of my emotional and physical energy to just live day-to-day. 

That said, I've been trying to find the silver lining.  I moved in to a very small studio apartment in the Pearl District, an area I'd been begging my ex to live in for years but he'd refused. I created a haven for me and my dogs and I've been making lots of new friends, both of the human and four-legged persuasion. I've been job-hunting, designing, exercising and exploring. In short, I've been trying to find myself and determine what exactly makes me tick.

The last week in May marked one year since he walked out on me and serendipitously, I turned a corner around that time. Maybe it wasn't a coincidence, but even though this divorce seems to be dragging, I've finally been able to pull myself out of the quicksand and immerse myself in design.

For once in my life, I can't wait to see what the future holds.



My Five Favorite Online Resources for Contemporary Art

It’s no secret that I love art. Original when possible, locally made, especially.  Sometimes, however, it can be fun to shop for art online and there are literally thousands of sites from which to choose.  When I am not buying or commissioning art locally, I am usually trolling one of these five modern art web sites.

1. New to the art scene, Twyla collaborates to create exclusive artworks that are only available at The result is a flawless piece of art that’s custom framed with a certificate of authenticity, and is signed and numbered by the artist.  I used this Adrian Navarro piece in a project recently and it’s even more spectacular in person.  There’s not one piece on this site I wouldn’t love in my own home.

2.     Gray Malin is a fine art photography site that features hundred of limited edition prints, each of which is printed and signed in-house.  When you visit this site, you’ll no doubt see many of the vintage feeling beach photos that are so popular right now, like this one taken on the Italian Riviera.

3.     Viyet isn’t exactly an art website, but it is a great resource for it. Calling itself the premiere online marketplace for buying and consigning designer furniture, I’ve found some really amazing original contemporary paintings on here for a fraction of the price of what you’d pay new.  I also love that they have a price adjustment policy; if an item you have purchased is reduced in price within five days of your order date, Viyet will adjust the sale price accordingly.

4.     Saatchi offers an unparalleled selection of paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography in a range of prices.  Based in Los Angeles, I like that their website makes viewing and buying art easy and unintimidating for my clients.

5.     @60” believes everyone deserves affordable art and emerging artists deserve a platform for their work. The company connects collectors with talented new painters, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists who have been carefully selected by a “curatorial board.”  I especially like their “Under $500” option, which has some really cool artists, including Michael Neff who creates awesome monotypes.

Still overwhelmed?  Give me a call and let me help you pick the perfect piece for your home or workplace. 

My Top Five Commercial Interior Design Trends

While the ‘telecommute’ trend is growing, more than 80 percent of us still work in a traditional office environment.  The average employee spends 50 weeks or 2,000 hours a year in said space, generally seated in a cubicle.  Increasingly, employers are beginning to understand the importance of creating an environment in which employees can collaborate and create.

Historically, companies would hire designers to create space plans. Determining how many desks and bodies can be squeezed into one space was their primary focus.  Now that employers are being enlightened (likely by generational influences) they’re asking their interior design teams to think differently.

These are the five trends happening in commercial design:

1- Authenticity.

I’m seeing a big demand for authentic designs that are reflections of the company’s core values. For family-focused companies, authenticity-centered design may take root through a room for mothers to breast feed, for example.  For another with a health-driven mission, providing employees with standing desks and yoga balls might be how they are in alignment with their brand.

2- Color and Art

No longer are offices dark and dreary.  More and more, my commercial clients are requesting colorful furniture, exciting original art, and even featuring – and sometimes selling! -- the work of local artisans.

3- Homey

Lately, I am installing wallpaper, chandeliers, beanbags, plants and even draperies in places like conference rooms and breakout spaces.  The employer mindset being that if you have to be there eight hours or more a day, you might as well be as comfortable there as you are at home!

4- Generational Appeal

Today’s “cool” offices tout open floor plans, coffee bars, happy hours and foosball tables giving millennials plenty of time for on-the-clock play.  This movement is often referred to as “activity-based working” where employers offer a variety of work settings that will support brainstorming, collaborating and team building.

5-    Performance.

While form has become much more important, function certainly isn’t dead. “We are definitely seeing a change in what designers and clients are looking for,” says Shannon Ferrigno, design studio director for SmithCFI.  “It really comes down to creating a variety of inspiring spaces that offer choice of posture, technology interfaces that perform well and settings support the work that is being done throughout the day.  It is not enough just to be beautiful”.

I surprised myself and have fallen in love with designing commercial spaces, including restaurants, retail stores and offices.  If you’re thinking about transforming your businesses’ space, let me know!

Where to Splurge and Where to Save on Home Decor

An Interior Design Budget Blueprint

Unless you were the winner of Saturday’s Powerball, you probably live on a budget and that budget likely dictates everything you do, from dining out to decorating. If you’re doing the latter, I have some tips for you as to where you should splurge and where you can save.


·       If it impacts your health, I suggest doling out the dollars.  This means buy the best possible mattresses, office chair and other oft used seating that you can afford. These are items you use every day and are critical to your physical self and well-being. 

These original paintings by  Chris Foster  are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

These original paintings by Chris Foster are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

·       Statement pieces are the things that, if your house were on fire, you’d grab on the way out the door. This includes original art, vintage furniture, or that vase you purchased on your honeymoon.

·       It is indisputable that a large area rug can make or break a space. For this reason, I always recommend spending top dollar (whatever that means to you) on an area rug. Wool rugs are my favorite; they are beautiful, durable and wear well. That said, if you have kids and pets, I recommend nylon rugs. They are strong and stain resistant making them easy to clean.


·       Like most designers, I LOVE pillows. The more the merrier.  I have so many pillows that I rotate them in and out according to my mood.  Consequently, I don’t like to spend a lot on them.  That said, I do like to buy good quality pillow inserts because I believe they look and lie differently than their less expensive versions.

·       Decent accent tables need not cost a decent chunk of change.  Homegoods, Target and other big box stores tend to have decent pieces that are perfectly fine for housing your books, a table lamp and a beverage.

·       Speaking of table lamps, lighting is an area where you can save some dough. This one is tougher for me because I love expensive lighting and in terms of physical heft, I do think you can tell the difference.  However, if you don’t pick up table lamps to determine weight like I do, then this is certainly an area where I suggest you save.

·       Accessories are the jewelry of a room, but very rarely will I spend a lot on these.  You can often find me hitting up consignment stores like Seams to Fit Home, Etsy, Tuesday Morning or even Goodwill for goodies like books, decorative boxes and candleabras. 

Looking for a better sense of what things actually cost?  Download my free budgeting guide here.


Is It Timeless or Trendy?


A friend recently said to me, “Kristen: I really like the rose gold look, but I worry that it’s trendy and will soon appear dated.  How do I know?”

It’s easy to spot trends -- you see them in magazines, in social media posts, in stores, and all over HGTV. What’s harder is determining which of those trends will stand the test of time, and which will be a flash in the pan.

Here are a couple of tips to help you decide whether something is timeless or trendy, and whether or not that particular trend is for you.

1.    Is it functional.  Nothing can be timeless if it does not serve you functionally over the course of time.  Examples: Marble countertops are gorgeous, but if you’re a gourmet cook, the acids in your ingredients will eat right through the material over time.  Love the boho look of Boujad rugs?  Me, too, but my two dogs tore mine up in a matter of a few weeks.  If it doesn’t last, it’s not timeless – literally!

The ill-fated Boujad rug by  Loom + Kiln

The ill-fated Boujad rug by Loom + Kiln

2.    Is it adaptable. If your trend meets your functional needs, the next question to ask yourself is if it can evolve with your style. White walls are a huge trend in the design world right now. Do white walls work in a multitude of aesthetic environments?  Yes! You may get sick of that avocado green sofa (trendy), but white walls allow for versatility.

3.    The last thing to consider is simplicity. Typically, the simpler the design, the more likely it is to remain timeless. Think about subway tiles.  Yes, they may be a little predictable, but they’ve stood the test of time because a) they’re functional b) they’re adaptable and yes, c) they’re simple!

Now, I’m not trying to rain on your trend parade (or my friend who asked the question).  I love incorporating trends into the spaces I design. However, I try to do so 1) sparingly and 2) inexpensively. Love the rose gold finishes that seem to be everywhere (as seen above)?  Rather than installing a new kitchen faucet and fixtures, incorporate the trend in accessories – a teapot, a fruit bowl etc. Décor is also a great place to apply the latest design ideas! Digging the Justina Blakeney jewel toned sofa look? Me, too, but before committing the bucks, try a few throw pillows in the same vibrant hue and see if it satisfies.

My last bit of advice is this: ask yourself the hard question: Would I still love it if it wasn’t trendy? 

What trends are you dying to try?


Top 10 Home Decor Stores in Portland, Oregon

Furniture and Other Finds in the City of Roses

The city of Portland is hot, hot, hot (lately, that’s also been a literal thing).  It seems everybody and his or her mother are visiting, moving here, planning to move here or want to move here.  Most people flock to the city of Roses because of its ample outdoor activities, scenic beauty or bustling foodie scene. Less thought of is its killer design community.  If you’re visiting Portland and interested in home décor, there are many great independent boutiques all of which are well worth a visit.  These are my top ten:

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

1. Cargo

Cargo bill itself as “a journey of spirit, time, and place.”  When you walk into their gigantic historic warehouse, you’ll see why.  All corners of Cargo are filled with everything from Japanese tansus to Indian quilts to teapots and everything in between. If you leave this place empty-handed – or uninspired – there’s something wrong with you.

81 SE Yamhill St. Portland, OR,

2. Canoe

Founded in 2005, Canoe features simple, functional and beautiful home goods made with natural materials. Think glass-and-wood; textiles and ceramics all of which make great gifts for friends or self.

1233 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR,

3. Hive

Hive’s motto is "Good design can and should be presented in an inspired, knowledgeable and friendly manner." Through the company’s website and in its northwest Portland store, Hive sells the iconic modern brands Alessi, B&B Italia, Herman Miller, Knoll, and Vitra in a museum like atmosphere.

820 NW Glisan Street, Portland, OR,

4. Schoolhouse Electric

Schoolhouse Electric was founded by Brian Faherty in 2003 following his discovery of a long-lost collection of cast-iron glass shade molds in an abandoned warehouse and carefully restoring them back into production.  Today, he’s now operating out of a gigantic facility in the industrial district selling all manner of furniture, lighting, bedding and hardware.

2181 NW Nicolai Street, Portland, OR,

5. City Home

Locally owned City Home has two showrooms that specialize in midcentury modern to reclaimed and steampunk. They also carry designer home decor and furniture lines, including Magnolia Home Furniture Collection, Joybird and Justina Blakeney Home.

Central Eastside Industrial        
217 SE Taylor Street

Pearl District
825 NW Davis Street

6. Asia America

For fans of Asian goods, Asia America is worth a stop. They boast a nicely curated collection of art, antiques and furniture from over 40 years of travel to every corner of Asia.  Between their SE warehouse and their waterfront showroom, they have more than 5000 pieces to ogle. 

Riverplace Waterfront  0315 SW Montgomery Street, Suite 330

Central Eastside Industrial 79 Southeast Taylor Street Suite 200

Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

7. The Good Mod

This 20,000 square foot industrial loft is a midcentury modern design lover’s dream.  They specialize in restoration and custom design and upholstery work.  You can get a taste of the kinds of amazing pieces they bring in by visiting their website, but their store is not to be missed.

1313 Burnside St, 4th Fl., Portland, OR,

8. Solabee

This is exactly a home décor store, but Solabee is an oasis for plant and flower fiends. A women-owned full-service floral studio and plant shop provides fresh and unique botanical treasures.  And their super knowledgeable staff at their conservatory-like shop will assist you in selecting the perfect plant for your space.

801 N. Killingsworth, Portland, OR,

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

9.  Legacy Modern

Legacy Modern is your one stop shop for mid century modern, industrial, Americana and Mission Arts and Crafts home furnishings. Owner Mike Albino hails from a fourth generation of furniture traders.  If he doesn’t carry it, he’ll find it for you. They’ve also carry the works of many local artists and fabricators, as well the furniture line, Gus Modern. 

1530 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR.,

10.  Seams to Fit Home

Seams to Fit Home is an upscale consignment furniture designer showroom offering a modern mix of furnishings and home decor for urban living, located in Northwest Portland. This is the place to hit for beautiful, very lightly used custom pieces. 

2237 NW Raleigh St., Portland, OR.,

Not Portland, but absolutely worth the drive.

11. Rose City Modern

Rose City Modern specializes in quality mid century modern furniture and housewares.  Following these guys on Instagram is like getting a lesson in midcentury design and their store is the same way.  If you’re a midcentury fan, make the trek to nearby Beaverton and pop in to this unassuming little shop.

12675 SW 1st St, Beaverton, OR.,

What did I miss?  Let me know in your comments below! 




What’s the Difference? Modern Versus Contemporary

Confused?  You’re not alone.

Just the other day, someone asked me: “What is the difference between modern and contemporary interior design?” This is a legitimate question given how interchangeably people tend to use those terms.  However, there really is a distinction between the two and I’m going to clarify.

Modern design refers to a period of time; it is a design style that was shaped between the 1920s and 1950s. Unlike contemporary design, modern doesn’t – and will never -- change. Most typically, modern design refers to the mid century modern era, which is recognizable by clean, airy and unembellished spaces. Brazilian and Scandinavian architects were very influential at this time, with a style characterized by clean simplicity and integration with nature. Use of natural materials such as wood, leather, teak and linen were prominent. Molded plywood and plastic were also very popular in modern furniture, as well as polished metal.  Floors were often bare and made of natural materials; if utilized, area rugs in were neutral and made of wool.  Color was used sparingly. 


Example of a classic (midcentury) interior. Source: Pinterest. 

Example of a classic (midcentury) interior. Source: Pinterest. 

Example of a classic modern (midcentury) interior. Source: Pinterest.

Example of a classic modern (midcentury) interior. Source: Pinterest.

Unlike modern, contemporary designs will change. Current contemporary styles may (and probably will) be completely different 20 years from now. Contemporary interiors borrow from all different eras. Right now, the modern era is popular (as evidenced by major retailers West Elm and Room + Board) which is why, I my opinion, there’s so much confusion over the terms. However, while some of the elements and styles are similar to modern, current contemporary designs incorporate a larger variety of colors and materials. It is also common to see elements of “indoor-outdoor” living.

The bottom line:  Modern and contemporary in interior design are not one in the same. 

Do you have a preference between the two?


Example of a contemporary interior.  Source: Pinterest.

Example of a contemporary interior.  Source: Pinterest.

Color is not just color, White is complicated and other things I've learned

I've just returned from a seminar learning about color from the expert herself, Maria Killam of Colour Me Happy.  Even though I've been doing this for several years now, I'd never given much thought to color, other than how to use it in ways that brought a space together and/or alive, depending.   

In three short days, Maria changed all of that.

I learned a lot from Maria and the other participants, but the three key things I took away from her workshop were as follows:

1- There are 9 neutral undertones in the world and once you have a gradation of them (from light to dark), you no longer need to sift through hundreds to find the right one. They are: 

  1. Blue Grey
  2. Green Beige
  3. Yellow Beige
  4. Pink Beige
  5. Orange Beige
  6. Gold Beige
  7. Taupe
  8. Green Grey
  9. Purple Grey

2- You can't choose color from a paint chip the size of your thumb (I think we can all relate to this one!).  Maria has developed large boards that rather than being printed, are painted.  It's enormously helpful to be able to hold these up to a wall in your space or to a sofa to determine its undertone. She sells them here, if you're interested in buying your own.  Alternatively, if you're just looking for paint colors, my friend Vanessa from Color Moxie NW has them and can help you choose the perfect wall color in no time. 

3- You can't choose color without using a "control" -- a white piece of paper behind the color board is the only way to accurately determine the undertone.  I was amazed at how many times I guessed a color's undertone incorrectly until I held up a white board or piece of paper as a point of comparison.  

If you're a designer or just a "design enthusiast", Maria's classes are well worth the investment. You not only leave as a certified color expert, but a whole new appreciation for the colors of the world around you. 



Houzz "Room of the Day"

What fun to check my email and see that my latest project was featured on Houzz!   Thank you to my clients Virginia and Kevin for allowing me to showcase their beautiful home. 

From the article:

"Every now and then, a house hunter is lucky enough to find a home that needs only a few cosmetic updates. Siefkin’s clients were just that lucky. The home they purchased for their family was in great shape, with previous updates that included vaulted ceilings and skylights, features many traditional ranch houses don’t have. 

That said, the home’s layout is a bit unusual...."

Click to read the rest

My Oprah "Ah ha" Moment

Hi All,

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update. I can attribute this to three things:

1-    I have been so busy with my amazing clients

2-    My work with a business coach on the rebrand of my company

3-    When I am not working with my clients and my business coach, all this crummy weather has made me want to sleep!

Let’s talk about #2. You may have noticed over the last few weeks, I changed my name from Ideaspark to Interior Design Alchemy.  This was a result of an archetype exercise I went through.  It revealed that my primary archetype is “alchemist.” To be honest, I only knew of alchemy in a scientific context, so when I read up on it’s definition, I was floored.  According to, it is “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.” I transform spaces by either creating them or combining things in a different way!  As Oprah would say, it was an “ah ha” moment for me. 

Not only was it incredibly fun, it was also really illuminating.  I walked away with a lot more information about who I am and what makes me tick.  I genuinely believe that this knowledge will help me be a better designer. 

Speaking of transformation, I participated in a photo shoot the other day and boy is it a process!  There’s a lot of illusion and perspective involved in photography.  The image below is of my photographer John Valls doing HIS magic.  Wait until you see the transformation of this space! 

If you’re ready to have your modern, midcentury or contemporary space transformed, head on over to my revamped web site and request a complimentary phone consultation.  I’d love to hear about you and what you would make magically disappear from your living room if you could? 

Get Out of the Dark with Good Lighting

Today was the shortest day of the year, and while it will get progressively lighter from here, I’m sorry to say we still have a long way to go here in the Pacific Northwest.  

One thing that can help significantly is having good lighting in your home.  In my opinion, good lighting is one of the single greatest contributions to good decor. It not only enhances the function of a room, it also enriches the appearance. A well-lit space is more functional and more attractive.

To achieve good lighting, you need to follow a few simple rules:

1- Layer

There are three types of lighting and you should be using all three in a space. General, or ambient light illuminates an entire space but does not need to be overly bright. Task lighting creates focused points of light over work areas, such as desk, table, bedside or reading chair. As a general rule, task lighting should be three times brighter than the ambient light. Accent lighting is mainly decorative and gives a room a finished look – think table lamp here. By layering all three types at least once in each room, you create a more welcoming and usable space.

2- Use Light, Shadow and Reflection

Ambient and accent lighting work best when the light bounces off a nearby surface, such as a wall or ceiling. Bouncing light helps balance out ambient lighting, and can be used to add drama. Use uplights behind large houseplants to cast dramatic shadows and add interest to an otherwise dark corner.

3- Vary Light Levels

Installing dimmer switches is extremely easy and is one of the best ways to give you control over the way a space feels. Dimmers allow you to create a more customized lighting design and alter the mood of a room. Dimmers are particularly effective in dining and living areas.

What about lighting stumps you?  Do you have a good lighting resource?  Tell me about it!

Getting on the Same (Design) Page with your Partner



One of the most frequent scenarios I encounter with my clients is this:

Partner A calls me to ask about my services.  We agree to meet, see the space, talk about goals and objectives and so forth.  After being assured that the Partner B doesn’t have any interest in the outcome of the space, I begin to design.  I return to present the design – generally to Partner A and B – and Partner B is none too pleased with what s/he sees.  An argument ensues. I have to scrap my design and at the client’s expense, go back to the drawing board.

This happens ALL the time.

Don’t assume your partner doesn’t care.  He/she DOES. They may not know how to articulate what they like or dislike, but they do have an opinion.  This questionnaire will help him/her find the words to describe their preferences and give you the tools to communicate them.

The other scenario I encounter often is that I am brought in to settle home decor disagreements - or worse, asked to side with the initiating party.

Take heart; much of the time, misunderstandings around interiors are more about communication of one’s needs for a space than an actual difference in style preference. 

By doing this brief exercise in advance, you can get to the desired goal a lot faster and avoid unnecessary aggravation.


Print out two copies of this post. Each of you will need to take this survey.  It is important that you do it separately so as not to influence one another’s responses. So much of interior design is intuitive and about feel, so have fun, answer honestly and don’t overthink your answers!


  • Which room(s) are you interested in addressing? (If more than one, answer the questions below for each).
  • How do you use the space currently? (i.e. watching TV, eating, sleeping, reading etc.)
  • Are you happy with the way it is utilized or would you change that in some way?  If yes, how?
  • Approximately how many hours a day do you spend in this room?


How would you describe your preferred style?

  • Modern
  • Traditional
  • Transitional (between modern and traditional)
  • Eclectic
  • Rustic
  • Industrial
  • Other

How do you want it to feel? Circle the three that most apply:

  • Formal
  • Relaxed
  • Casual
  • Peaceful
  • Unique
  • Inviting
  • Happy
  • Minimal
  • Collected
  • Elegant
  • Other

How do you NOT want it to feel? Circle the three that most apply:

  • Formal
  • Relaxed
  • Casual
  • Peaceful
  • Unique
  • Inviting
  • Happy
  • Minimal
  • Collected
  • Elegant
  • Other

What is your biggest priority?

  • The way the room looks
  • The way the room functions
  • The way the room feels
  • Other

What colors do you tend to prefer?

  • Cooler tones (greens, blues, greys)
  • Warmer tones (oranges, reds, browns)
  • Neutrals (whites, browns, blacks)
  • Other

Which room(s) in your home do you most like and why?


  • How much are you willing to spend to make the space what you want it to be?
  • How will you be paying for the improvements (checking, credit card, bank loan etc,)
  • Are you willing to put in some elbow grease or do you want someone to do it all for you?


  • When do you want the room to be done?
  • Are you willing to wait if you can get an item for less money?


Rank the following rooms in terms of appeal (1= your favorite 5 = your least favorite)

Source: Houzz

Source: Houzz

Source: Home Decor

Source: Home Decor

Don't like any of the rooms you see?  Hit the Web and search sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Apartment Therapy.  There is an endless sea of inspiration and ideas out there.  Don't be limited to what you see above.

All done? Sit down together and review your answers. Even better, work with an interior designer who can help review and decipher your answers and make the appropriate recommendations.

Lastly, CONGRATULATIONS on taking the first step toward understanding your personal style and learning how to marry that style with another person with whom you presumably live -- or perhaps you plan to live.



Paralysis (Over)Analysis


Last week, my husband and I moved from a nearly 3000 square foot home in north Portland, to a 2000 square foot place in southwest Portland.  Since it’s just he and I and our two dogs, we decided it was time to move to a smaller space.  We have no children, but I’ve always thought moving must be a little like childbirth – you only do it again because you forgotten how painful it was.  This move was no exception.

This is my first move since becoming an interior designer.  To say that it’s been a humbling experience is an understatement.  I’d decorated my homes before, of course, but there’s something different about it this time. My expectations are higher and my fears are greater. 

When I walk into a client’s home, I know pretty quickly what it is that the room “needs” – a warmer paint color, a larger area rug, more art.  When I walk into my own home, I am instantly paralyzed and it’s absolutely vexing. 

An example: No joke, I’ve taken home, tested, bought and returned more than a dozen area rugs for our living room.  Questions I would ask my clients swirl unanswered in my head – “How do you want the room to feel?  How much traffic will this area get?  What colors do you prefer?”

In the end, I will figure it out.  I always do, but I just wanted to share with you that when I say, “I feel your pain,” I’m not just paying you lip service!



Our new, smaller home. pre-purchase. 

Our new, smaller home. pre-purchase. 

Before You Cut a Rug: What Size Works Best for Your Home?

Before You Cut a Rug: What Rug Size Works Best for Your Home?

Area rugs – sometimes called carpets -- have a way of making a space feel and look more like a home.  Whether it’s the texture or the unique design, rugs can really make a room seem more inviting.  However, knowing the right rug size to choose for your home can be tricky.  With lots of different options out there, and limited space to use them in your home, how do you know what size will look best in what areas?  By following these simple guidelines you can master the art of knowing what rug size work best in the three areas of a home I am most asked about.


The living room is the space where you and your guests spend a great deal of time socializing and relaxing.  That being said, you want your living room to look good.  Here are some tips when it comes to what size rug you should use in your living room:

  • Large Space: Bigger rooms are great, but they also mean you have more area to cover and need to do more to make it feel cozy instead of cold. In these instances, I recommend looking for a rug that is big enough to “float” all of your furniture on.  In other words, all your main pieces fit comfortably within the perimeter of the rug leaving equal distance all the way around. This technique makes the room look cozy and comfortable, yet still polished.
  • Midsized Space: In an average sized living room, you can go a little smaller with your area rug provided that you always make sure the front two legs of all of the pieces in the grouping (sofa, chairs, loveseat etc.) are on the rug.  This brings the furniture all goes together telling the homeowner and guests the purpose of the space.
  • Small Space: In a very small living room, such as an apartment, condominium or many of those classic bungalows of the Northwest, space is at a premium.  By placing an area rug under a coffee table between your seating area, you can actually trick the eye in to believing you have more space than you do.  This technique is also good if your budget is tight and you can only afford a smaller sized rug.


Hallways tend to be small and narrow, which doesn’t leave a lot of options when it comes to rug placement.  However, if you have furniture in your hallway that can change up your rug placement.  Here are some tips when it comes to rug placement in a hallway:

  • Homeowners with narrow hallways should look for “runners” that have 4 to 5 inches of flooring visible on all sides of the runner. For example, if you have a 3ft wide hallway (most halls are about this width), I find that a 2'3" wide runner is a comfortable width. The good news is, most standard runners come this width, or close to it. Or, and this one is a little unorthodox, but try placing furniture to one side and the long runner on the other.  This can make a small hallway look and feel bigger with the runner rug to one side.
  • For wider hallways, a long rug with furniture (such as a console) on either side can keep the space from feeling cavernous.  Just be sure to keep the rug out from under the furniture and let the rug lead you down the hallway.


Much like the living room, a dining room is another space in to which we bring guests to entertain and socialize.  Unlike all other rooms, the technique for a dining room rug is actually very simple: everything should be on the rug.  With the table in the center, the chairs should have plenty of room to be pulled back away from the table and still remain on the rug.  This is one area of your home that is better to get a bigger rug rather than a rug that is too small.

In the next blog, I will address rugs in the bedroom and entryway or foyer.




A fun example of using Flor Carpet Tiles as a custom runner. 

A fun example of using Flor Carpet Tiles as a custom runner.