101 Designer Secrets–#4 and #5

The May issue of House Beautiful magazine has a 4 page spread of 101 Designer Secrets.  We read them and decided to share along with some commentary.  Not all 101 will be shared, but you can click on the link above to HB, or subscribe to their hard copy magazine to read them all if you wish to.

SECRET #4:  

The hang up–where to hang my artwork?  I’ve found that 63″ on center above the floor is a perfect viewing height for most pieces-Hunter Kaiser

Commentary by S Interior Design

It is definitely one of the most common faux pas —hanging the artwork too high on a wall.  If the person doing the hanging is 6′-3″ their perspective is different from someone who is 5′-5″.  This is a good rule of thumb to begin with, 63″ above the floor.  Variables to consider include whether the art is above a piece of furniture and the height of that furniture.

When the art is not being hung above a piece of furniture, the guideline changes.  I like to ‘own the wall visually’ if that is the only element being placed.  Then lower placement and stacked art work higher on the wall often makes more sense.

This artwork is 78"x78" and the ceiling is 12'-0" high


When you are hanging a series of pictures together, keep the gap between them 2 to 2 1/2″ to really utilized the wall space, and keep a minimum of 9″ between the art and the tops of sofas and chairs-Milly De Cabrol

Commentary by S Interior Design-

Agree and then a small disagree.  Yes to the gap between pieces of art being hung together, but we generally keep the space between the art and tops of sofas and chairs to 7″.  Again, style of the furniture, height of the ceiling and the composition of the art being hung are variables to be considered.



There are good rules of thumb but all situations should be evaluated as unique to determine the best way to hang and display your artwork.




Thinking About Moving? Time to Invest In Your Home!

If you are thinking about selling a house, why would it be time to invest in improvements to the house? Read on for the answers.

The data about the weaker home sales market has been in the news for many months.  There are a lot more homes for sale, and it is a buyers’ market.  But there are two things a homeowner can control: the price the home is offered at, and what the home looks like to the prospective buyer.

The statistic quoted by realtors is that within the first 20 seconds of entering a home, the impression of that home is formed in a person’s mind. With that in mind, ‘the stage needs to be set’ as soon as the front door is opened.

Most of have already learned that clearing of the clutter and de-personalizing is necessary. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you don’t use it on a daily basis, pack it away.   Think about this as a great first step towards packing up to move to your new house.  Also, clean, clean and clean.  Your home must look and smell fresh and clean.

If you have an older house, it doesn’t need to be a disadvantage.  Here is a case example about a twenty plus year old home had a lot going for it.  However, there were quite a few things that if not addressed, would almost certainly prevent the homeowner from getting their asking price.

The Problems:


  • The furniture was old and poorly maintained
  • The kitchen and two bathrooms had old style wallpaper (think late 1980s),
  • In the common areas and bedrooms of the home, the walls were stark white and dingy,
  • The carpeting in the bedrooms was worn and dirty,
  • The flagstone in the entry courtyard and side patio was in need of a cleaning.

In summary, the home was in dire need of a visual update!

The Solutions:

To address the objective of making a great first impression, a beautiful focal point was created using paint color and inexpensive accessories to greet potential buyers as they walked in the front door.  The wall above the fireplace was painted a warm red tone and a colorful, yet soothing piece of artwork was hung on the wall.  In addition:

  • New furniture sourced from a hotel furnishing liquidation firm was selected for the family room and the old furniture was either donated or sent to a storage unit.
  • The wallpaper was removed in the kitchen and bathrooms and the walls were painted a warm welcoming color to complement the new furniture and art work.
  • The carpeting in the three bedrooms was beyond help and therefore was replaced.
  • The flagstone outside was power washed and sealed.
  • Fresh linens were selected for the bedrooms, and new towels and shower curtains for the bathrooms were placed.

Additionally, the lighting was updated in the bathrooms, the closets were significantly emptied, flowers were planted, and new bedding and ambient lighting was added in the bedrooms.

The entire makeover took about two weeks.  The realtor wisely held off making the listing active until all of the updates were in place.  When the listing went ‘live’ he had a wonderful looking, and welcoming home to show.

The results; two offers within the first 2 weeks of showings!

More Easy Ways To Update Your Bathrooms

There must be a voice somewhere whispering “refresh and update your bathrooms” as this is the second guest post in a week I am sharing on this topic.  don’t worry, it is not a repeat of the prior post, so take a read and perhaps get inspired to do some bathroom updating yourself this weekend!

Bathroom Updates

Megan Gates is an active blogger who provides written work to the blogosphere pertaining to Suffolk Rentals, NY Rentals, home improvement and the latest architecture, design and fashion.  Follow her on twitter @MEGatesDesign.

If you’re looking for an easy home makeover project to do this weekend, look no farther than your bathroom. With these easy tips, your bathroom will be looking fresh and chic in no time.

Bring in some bold or neutral splashes of color (depending on the wall colors) in a simple way by buying a new shower curtain and new towels. Your towels do not have to always be out of sight and can be folded over a bar, washcloths can be folded on the vanity, or you can have an extra towel or two on the back of the toilet. Don’t forget your bathmats and window curtains if you have them.  Toothbrush holders, soap dispensers or dishes, and bathroom cups will also add a nice accent of color if you match them with the towels and bathmats.

S Interior Design would say that your accessories don’t need to strictly match, but rather coordinate well with one another. 

Make your vanity look modern with some new hardware. By changing the handles and knobs, you can modify the look of your cupboards and drawers in minutes. Add a new, modern mirror and update the sink faucet. Change your old lighting fixture to a stylish modification. If you do not want to change the sink or faucet, bringing in a large mirror that covers most of the wall over the sink, and adding bright new light bulbs is a quick and easy update.  How many times have you gone into a bathroom and found the lighting is just awful for sprucing up and getting ready for the day.  Lighting makes a huge different when it comes to a bathroom. ]

We could not agree more with the lighting commentary!!

If you want to change up the entire color of your bathroom, bringing a new color to your walls is a simple afternoon project that can result in a major room transformation for little money. Your bathroom is a small room in comparison to the rest of your house so deciding to paint it is not as much of a time and money commitment as it may be in another room. Since the room is small, experiment with a bold color. If you don’t like it, it’s easy enough to change it to something else. If you decide to change the color of your bathroom, choose a neutral color for all of the accessories mentioned above.  If you decide on a neutral warm tone, spice it up and definitely add those bold accents.  Remember though, that since it is a small room, staying away from dark colors is a good idea to keep your bathroom feeling open and fresh.

S Interior Design  varies from this opinion on staying away from dark colors…..we say go bold, go dark if that is what your design scheme needs.  Small will not feel any smaller.


With these simple steps, you’ll be surprised at the dramatic changes your bathroom can go through in a weekend. Share any other smart and chic ways to update a bathroom here!

Accessories- Your Home Isn’t Fully ‘Dressed’ Without Them

When S Interior Design develops a budget for  a design project, there is ALWAYS a line item for accessories.   The analogy I will offer is this; you can put on a stunning clothing outfit but unless you then proceed to put on jewelry and make-up you will look less than stunning.

At times, a professional designer is called in to select and place these finishing touches.   Sometimes it is not clear to a homeowner why a room full of brand new furniture doesn’t look so fabulous like it did in the furniture store.  You can get insights into how to accessorize from shelter magazines, on-line design web sites (one of our favorites is HOUZZ ) and the furniture stores.   When it comes time to choose your accessories, function should be considered as well. For example, if you have young children, breakable objet on low table tops may not be the best choice.  I often put a decorative box on a coffee table in family rooms to store all the many remote controls we use to operate the TV etc.

See how this accessory is used on the dry bar/storage area for one of S Interior Designs’ clients below.

Accessories are the best way to communicate your individual sense of style.

Two people can start with the same basic furniture and once the accessories and artwork are added the rooms will look not at all alike.  Some retail locations to find well priced accessories include Pier One , Cost Plus World Market, Crate and Barrel and Target.

Entry Area By S Interior Design

Can you imagine how unfinished this entry area would look with out the decorative accessories and plants???

Interior Design A-Z: ‘S’ is for Slipcovered Sofas

Slipcovers, love em or hate em?   People generally have a positive or negative opinion about slipcovered furniture.

Personally, I like the look of a custom made tailored slipcover. I also like the functionality that comes with a slipcover made of a washable, easily cleaned fabric.  Slipcovers allow you to quickly and easily change the look and feel of your furniture without investing in brand new pieces.  You can have a lighter, brighter look for summer, and switch to a heavier weight more textured fabric for Fall and Winter.

A quality workroom can fabricate custom slipcovers for your existing furniture.  Keep in mind, it probably will not be inexpensive.  Variables that will impact the cost are the fabric you choose and the size and detail of the furniture you are making the slipcover for.

An on-line resource for slipcovered furnishings is the Nantuckit Furniture Company

The Pottery Barn is perhaps one of the best known sources for slipcovered seating options.

Here are some pros and cons to consider (Source: http: http://www.yourdecoratinghotline.com)


Potential for wrinkles. I hate the mussed, wrinkly, unpressed look of something that laid in the dryer for days (even if it didn’t, it always seem to look that way!).  And who wants to have to iron their sofa?!

Unless your slipcover is custom-made, it rarely fits the furniture well necessitating lots of tucking and pinning and clips to hold the look together.


Today slipcover options include ready-made styles that are more fitted, new furniture that comes with a set of slipcovers, and custom-made slipcovers.  In addition to the usual sofas and loveseats, slipcovers are also now available for chairs (including wing backs and recliners), ottomans, dining chairs and even bed headboards and footboards.

Slipcovers encourage reuse and recycle.  You can simply cover up tired, faded, torn or stained upholstery – giving a fresh new look to your room without having to throw out your current furniture.  This is environmentally conscientious.

So consider the pros and cons and decide if slipcovered seating is right for your home.

Interior Design A – Z: ‘A’ is For ACCESSORIES

This is a first in a series of blog posts that will touch on a particular area of interior design associated with a letter of the alphabet, beginning with A, and eventually ending with Z (that should be interesting…)  Let’s begin-
As you read the blog and have another design area associated with the letter of the day, please share!!


You can invest a lot of time and money into designing a space, moving walls, raising ceilings, painting, new flooring, all new furniture, but if you don’t spend the time towards the end finding and placing the proper accessories, trust me, the room will feel unfinished and definitely lack the WOW factor.  S Interior Design is often called upon to accessorize rooms for clients.

So, when the design plan and budget  is being developed, make sure to include a line item for the accessories.  Accessories can include, accent pillows, decorative objet such as vases, candlesticks, floral arrangements, greenery, and so much more!

Some good places to shop for inexpensive accessories are Marshalls Home Goods and  TJ Maxx.  Professional designers have access to wonderful wholesale resources for accessories.

The most important things to keep in mind while shopping for your accessories are scale and proportion. For example, if you are placing candlesticks on an entry table, think about the height of the ceiling and overall dimension of the table.  Group candlesticks of varying heights in groups of 3-5.  You can even mix the materials of the candlesticks themselves ; iron, crystal, wood.  Just make sure to keep the color of the candle the same, we recommend ivory.

Balance In Your Interior Design

Last we spoke of scale and proportion.  Today’s post will talk about BALANCE.

Just like you are attracted to a color but don’t really know why, you will be attracted to either a SYMMETRICAL design style, or an  ASYMMETRICAL design style.

Symmetrical balance creates a mirror image by the placement of items that are identical on both sides of a central point.  Think 2 twin beds with a nightstand in between.  The beds have the same bed style and the same bedding, the night stands and lamps are identical.  How does this picture make you feel?

Symmetrical Example

Symmetrical balance suggests formality, orderliness and restraint.

Asymmetrical balance requires finding objects that are compatible but varied enough to be interesting. Objects and furniture balance well because they are judged by their visual weight, not pairings.  For example, you may have a large sofa  on one side of a room that is balanced by two large chairs with an accent table in the middle.

Note the height of the tall white vessel and the floor lamp.  It is the visual ‘likeness’ that creates balance.
asymmetrical balance suggests a more informal or ‘active’ room.

Okay, how do you react to the picture used to illustrate asymmetrical balance?

Look around your rooms and you will quickly see what type of ‘balance’ of design elements you are most comfortable with.

Tomorrow wear a non-matching set of jewelry if you usually always ‘match’ .  Start playing around and see where it all leads!

Top Design Elements: Part 1

Understanding and following design elements and principles will net you the best design outcome.

Part 1 will speak to the SCALE AND PROPORTION

See an example of a room designed with proper scale and proportion

Scale: The size of a space or an object, such as the overall dimensions, largeness or smallness of a room, an object or a pattern.

Example: Fabric with a small scale design versus a large scale design

Fabric Pattern - Small Scale Design

Fabric Pattern – Small Scale Design
Fabric - Large Scale Pattern

Fabric-Large Scale Pattern Design

The key is to combine both small and large scale patterns.  For example, use the small scale design fabric for a chair’s upholstery, and the large scale design fabric for accent pillows on a solid toned sofa in the same room.

Proportion: The size relationship or relationship of the parts to a whole.  For example, the size and placement of the arm, or the height of the back of a chair compared to the total chair.

Mackintosh Side Chair

Disporportionate Chair

Proportionate Chair

Both of the chairs shown are icons in the design industry.  The first, the Mackintosh side chair was designed in 1900 (fooled ya, bet you thought a current day modern furniture designer designed this).  It is a good visual example of how out of proportion elements like the ultra tall, thin back of this chair don’t ‘fit’  with the seat and height of the chair.

The second chair is the famous Morris chair.  by design it is basic looking and designed for human comfort.  The Morris chair is very well proportioned.