7 Designer Secrets You Need To Know

Spitting on your finger to hang the perfect artwork? Stuffing pillows that are too big into covers for the perfect fit? Stacks on stacks on stacks of coffee table book? Yes, yes and yes! These finishing touches make the room! Over the past 20+ years, I’ve collected seven of my favorite and today I’m revealing them to you. 

1. Buy Coffee Table Books You Love

One of the very best tips I have is to splurge on coffee table books you’re drawn to. They are super useful for adding dimension and height to coffee tables, console tables and bookshelves. Stack them, lean them, even open them and you’ve instantly elevated your design. Using topics you love (gardens, photography, you name it) or places you’ve traveled is the perfect way to inject a bit of personality into your room. Want to really take it up a notch? Have some of your favorite family photos made into a custom coffee table book.

perfect tabletop vignette with books {pursuit of style}
beautiful coffee table styling {the zhush}
these books help ground smaller brass items {swoonworthy}
two books stacks {ceresbr1}
the more the merrier {domino}

2. Create Your Own Paint Color

Can’t settle on the perfect color for your room? Love your sample but fear it’s too dark? Create your own color by having the paint store cut the color you love by half or a third. It will give you the same color, but with less intensity. Bonus, no one else will have it and you can name it whatever you’d like!

benjamin moore “sleigh bells” at 50% {studio mcgee}
sleigh bells sample {benjamin moore}
sleigh bells at full strength, maybe a little darker than you want {your design nest}

3. Layer Rugs

Rugs can be expensive, like super expensive. A perfect alternative to breaking your budget is to layer a smaller version of the pricey rug you have your eye on, ON TOP OF a less expensive rug. A basic sisal rug can be found very moderately priced and serves a a rich, textural backdrop for a more “statement” piece. Think large, solid, inexpensive as the base rug and smaller, richer, even trendier as the top layer. The result is stunning and something you don’t see everywhere.

this inexpensive dhurrie rug looks great overtop of an inexpensive sisal {decorpad}
a rich zebra painted cow hide stuns overtop of a basic sisal {kate jackson}
a natural cowhide livens up this basic seagrass rug {domino}

4. Buy Your Pillow Inserts One Size Larger Than Your Cover

No one wants a wimpy pillow. You know the kind; lifeless, pathetic and downright distracting. Purchase the pillow insert the next size up and you’ve instantly given the pillow (and room, really) a makeover. For example, for a 20″ pillow cover, I use a 22″ insert. A 18″ cover gets a 20″ insert and so on. While your at it, splurge on a down or synthetic down fill. Full, down pillows are one of the easiest ways to revive a room!

the proof {domestic imperfection}
plump pillow perfection {dimples and tangles}
perfect pillows {lynn morgan}

5. To Hang Artwork, Use Your Eye and Hand Height

It can be scary to hang the piece of artwork you love on big, bare wall.  Hanging it over a fireplace or a piece of furniture you love isn’t any easier. Too high or too low really cheapens the piece and the room overall. My rule of thumb, if hanging on a bare wall, is to hold the piece in front of you so that the CENTER of the art is AROUND your eye level, then go up just a smidge. Scientific, I know, but it works every single time. 🙂 The rule of thumb when hanging over a piece of furniture or fireplace is to use the WIDTH of your HAND(S) for the correct spacing above. Just place your hand sideways, then place the other on top (sideways) and you have the perfect spacing somewhere in-between the first and second hand. No measuring! Once you’ve settled on the height, lick your finger, slide your hand up, feel for the wire behind and tap on the wall where you want the nail to go. Gross, I know, but it saves a whole lot of measuring. Just don’t tell anyone what you did, it’ll be our little secret.

hung at eye level center and looks perfect! {the decorista}
another center eye level {better home and gardens}
umm, this is too high {social survival}
hand width above a fireplace, works for mirrors too {traditional home}
tory burch’s home, art hung perfectly above the mantle {tory burch}

6. Keep High, High and Low, Low

When you’re putting together the perfect tabletop vignette, it’s hard to know what to put where. Stacking items on books and choosing frames to use? It’s overwhelming. Keeping the taller pieces “high” and the shorter pieces “low” will create an interesting, layered display. For example, start with a tall lamp, then keep your books low, add a frame in the middle and you have an interesting flow. If you had chosen a shorter lamp, stacked your books up too high and selected a frame around the same height, you’d end up with one level throughout, which isn’t nearly as interesting.

nice flow, high to the sides and low in the center {the pink clutch}

vignette perfection! high to the left, low to the right {mimosa lane}

all one height, could look much better with varying heights {vanity fair}

7. Add Dimmers EVERYWHERE

What’s cheap and will instantly transform your entire home? Dimmers! I don’t want to oversell this, but they are literally life changing. Literally. 🙂 Adding dimmers to your main living areas will completely transform the space, I promise. Harsh, overly lit rooms suddenly become soft, candlelit looking spaces. I actually suggest having them everywhere, like in every single room.  Don’t believe me? Try just one and see what you think. You can go with a basic version, fancy smart versions, or even one made just for lamps. It’s super easy to switch out your current old-school switches for new dimmers. You can get them at Lowes, Home Depot or even order them online and it takes under 10 minutes. Home Depot has a quick tutorial here.

warm ambience in this dining room {ownby design}

dimmers allow for softer lighting here {leviton}

what a dimmer looks like, in case you didn’t know 😉 {elemental led}

And a handy dandy pin for your Pinterest boards!

Well, there you have it. Seven designer secrets that I just had to share. Do you think you might try one? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? I would love to hear them, please comment below!

FILED UNDER

TAGGED

Share ON

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

7 Mother’s Day Brunch Tables & How to Recreate Them

Mother’s Day is right around the corner (May 9th) and brunch is always a big hit with the Mom crowd. Steal one of these seven amazing looks to impress. Using basics you already have (white plates, clear glasses, etc.) you can easily add a few pieces and mimic these stunning tabes. Many use fabric right from the store as tablecloths…not even hemmed…shh, it’ll be our secret. 🙂  Be sure to click on the links below each photo and go directly to the items!

1. This hot pink and orange ikat tablecloth, offset with light blue glasses, looks amazing!

2. Blue and white creates a fresh, clean look for this Mother’s Day brunch, paired with rattan.

3. Does your Mom love Lilly Pulitzer? She’ll fall for this Palm Beach inspired table!

4. Tory Burch’s table is a classic in white and blue, mixed with dark wicker.

5. Magenta, orange and blue work together in this perfect Chinoiserie table

6. Blue and white are classic for a reason! This table setting is gorgeous.

7. I saved my favorite for last! Kelly green, navy and magenta create a vibrant table here.

There you have it! Seven beautiful tables you can recreate for your Mother’s Day brunch this year. Do you think you’ll try any?

Here’s a handy dandy pin for your Pinterest boards!

Share ON

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Countertops

As promised in my Selecting Cabinets blog post, next up is Selecting Countertops! After all, our gorgeous cabinets would be nothing without something equally beautiful to sit on top of them!

I knew from the start that I wanted marble in the Kitchen…crisp, fresh, white marble.  I know, I know…marble is “challenging”, but I want what I want. With all of the options out there, let’s take a look at them.

Not what we selected, but isn’t this GORGEOUS?

*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home.  So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster  | Selecting Paint Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting | Selecting Fans | Selecting Cabinets | Powder Room Reveal

Considering Materials

First up, let’s consider all of the different materials available. If you’ve recently undergone a bathroom or kitchen reno you will understand what I mean when I say the choice is VAST. There’s so many different options and even when you’ve decided on the material itself there are even more options to look through. The choices are typically between: granite, marble, solid surface (like Quartz or Quartzite)

Granite

Granite countertops are very common and generally very hard wearing. It’s very hard to make a scratch or dent in granite countertops and they basically last forever. From a cost point of view granite countertops are a good middle ground depending on the fabricator you use. Here, in Florida, they are EVERYWHERE and I know I wanted something different. I use Absolute Black granite a lot for clients and it’s my go to if using granite.

Marble

Gorgeous and hard to maintain…that’s marble. Marble is more expensive than granite countertops but the natural veining of the material really adds a “wow factor” to any space. You can’t fake it with a faux version, so don’t even try in my humble opinion. Marble countertops are less durable than granite so they can be scratched, etched and stained more easily than granite if it’s not sealed correctly. Acidic substances like red wine and oils can stain the material easily if the seal is worn off or done incorrectly. It’s not easy to live with, but it’s worth it…kind of like me!

Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops (Quartz and Quartzite) are still relatively new to the industry. They are made from bonding natural stone together with resin or acrylic. Quartz itself is one of the most durable materials on the planet so these countertops are fantastic for professional chefs and those with busy families. Often solid surface countertops come with an extremely long warranty (some products are lifetime warranties – always check before investing!) and that coupled with the durability of the material makes them very expensive!

I love you, but I can’t afford you

Making a Decision

I knew I wanted white marble in the Kitchen and then work everything else off of that. I know, marble is tricky…it stains, it etches, it scratches…but as I’ve said, I want what I want.

Considering 3 of our 5 kids have moved out, things are quieter and the need for a “hard as nails” countertop material isn’t as high of a priority as it was in the past. The open Kitchen of this home is the center where everyone will gather. I’d rather live with a little etching and get to have what I love each and every day. Granite and Quartz just won’t give me that and I’ll use them elsewhere in the home. The Kitchen calls for white marble.

Now it’s time to select them! Time for an 8 hour round trip drive to the stoneyard!

Stone Yard Visit

I cannot stress the importance of a stone yard visit enough! 4 hours south to Naples to select? No problem! We also went north 2 hours to Jacksonville. All totally worth it!

Photos online are just not the same as seeing a slab in person at a stone yard. When you go to a stone yard you can choose the exact slab that will be put in your kitchen or bathroom, not to mention that it’s a fun trip out!

My daughter came with me to the stone yard, along with some samples from the house so we could have a look at multiple finishes side by side to make some decisions.

Following on from the decision on marble, I knew that if marble was the choice then it would have to be a Carrara or Calacatta marble but I needed to see them in person to check the tones of the veining details.

Here’s what we saw!

Pretty, but too swirly…
Too gray
Carrara…pretty but too gray
Nice to see 2 options side by side

Seeing this photo above from the trip really emphasises the importance again of going to see stone slabs at a yard – you just wouldn’t see the natural beauty of this slab from a photo online!!

Are you ready to see what we selected?!

The Chosen Slabs!

So with Carrara or Calacatta being the top two to look out for in the stone yard, unfortunately most of the Carrara slabs we saw looked far too gray and didn’t really work with the samples from the house. They were all beautiful slabs but I was looking for something with warmer tones to it.

We then came across this Calacatta Gold slab… And I instantly fell in love! It’s the perfect marble with all the veins and detailing that I was looking for, and the warmer tones of the veins is perfect for the house.

Calacatta Gold in the warehouse with the selections

And then I was able to choose the slabs for the kitchen… The biggest area we need stone for as we have the large island. I needed 4 slabs for the Kitchen and Master Bath and they had it. Perfect!

The slabs used for the kitchen

Kitchen Install

Once the slabs were chosen at the stone yard I booked the guys in to template the kitchen and bathrooms for the marble. This step in the process can seem quite slow but it’s crucial to getting the perfect fit!

I am so in love with our kitchen island now we have the amazing marble countertops!!

Some detail shots of the corner detailing to match the furniture style cabinets…

Bathroom Selections

For the bathrooms I kept the same Calacatta Gold marble for our Master. It’s an ideal way to save a little bit on the slab cost.  I then used a remnant of Carrara for my daughter’s bath. We mitered the edge to create  a thicker look.  All of them are relatively neutral and this marble works really well with these finishes that have been selected already.

Here’s an install photo from my daughter’s bathroom.

For 2 bathrooms I chose to use Quartz for the countertops…the pool bath and my son’s bathroom. The reason for this is  two fold….durability and color. The pool bath will be used heavily during the Summer, and my son is still relatively young so it’s better to go for a material with a great deal of durability! Plus quartz offers a solid white-white option, which is what I had in mind for both spaces. The Pool Bath will have some crazy wallpaper and I wanted a solid white to offset it.

Recap

My takeaways for selecting countertops are this:

-Research online to see what you like. Look closely at all of those pretty Pinterest boards you’ve made and I’ll bet there are some commonalities

-Be really realistic with yourself about what’s important to you. If etching and staining will drive you crazy, marble is not the choice for you. If having a natural material is important to you, quartz is not the choice for you. Accept the materials for what they are.

-Narrow down your options, get a quote and then visit some stoneyards. Yes, they are probably far. Yes, it will probably take up your Saturday. Yes, you will probably end up making a few trips. But it’s TOTALLY worth it, I promise.

I hope this post has given you an insight into the decision making process of deciding on the countertops for our dream home! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

FILED UNDER

TAGGED

Share ON

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Building Our Dream Home – Powder Room Reveal

It’s here!! The first reveal for our dream home! I’m starting the reveals small, and we will build it up as more of the rooms get finished but today I’m going to share with you my new Powder Room and how I designed this small, yet beautiful space. It all started with a piece of art I loved and no windows. All of the items I used are linked at the bottom of the post.

*If you’re just joining us, this is another installment of a series documenting the building of our personal dream home.  So far we’ve tackled: Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster  | Selecting Paint Selecting Flooring | Selecting Bathtubs | Selecting Lighting | Selecting Fans | Selecting Cabinets | Selecting Paints

inspiration for the design

The bathroom is small, like super small, and has no windows. Bummer. I knew it would be dark and decided not to fight it.  I wanted to do something really bold here… so I decided to embrace it all and go dark with a rich color, like a little jewel box.

So with a dark aesthetic in mind, I actually found a painting that I fell in love with and based the whole design around it…

From this beautiful deep blue horse painting I decided to go for a deep navy paint color and settled on Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. It’s a rich and deep dark navy that is sophisticated and striking making it perfect for the powder room!

The paint was used on the walls, trim and even the inside of the door to really highlight the fact that the powder room is a jewel box!

The Design Details

With the base color decided I then started looking for a vanity unit that would work in the space. There wasn’t much out there as stock items that I really loved, so I ended up buying an inexpensive nightstand and cut a sink into. I love how this looks in the space because the curves of the nightstand offset the straight lines of the wall paneling.

For the faucet, I wanted to make the rest of room color “pop” so I chose brass classic style faucet. It was super cheap and looks super amazing! I matched the toilet paper holder and towel bar to it as well.. Gotta love Build.com!

The light fixture was a major player too! It’s stunning and gives the whole room a richness. Hudson Valley really makes the most interesting and impactful fixtures. I love the slightly oversized scale in this room.

Hudson Valley's LATHAM fixture

I also decided to mirror the whole wall above the vanity instead of a wall mounted one because the space is SO small! It made sense to mirror the whole width of the wall as a focal point and to make the room feel bigger.

The flooring is an inexpensive stock option… I knew I wanted something funky in here on the floor so patterned tiles was the best way to go!

styling

To finish the space off with styling pieces, I went with a potted orchid to add a fresh and light accent. This dresses the vanity nightstand perfectly, alongside one of my favorite candles and a monogrammed towel the other side of the sink. Anything more in this space it would have looked too crowded because of the size. Keeping it simple in small spaces goes a long way.

The Finished Space!

Here are some more photographs of the finished space… I’m so happy with how it’s turned out!

And shop the items below:

Painting | Paint Color | Flooring |Nightstand/Chest | Ceiling Light | Faucet | Orchid | Candle | Monogrammed Towel

TAGGED

Share ON

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Building Our Dream Home – Selecting Paint

Next up in our Dream Home series, we are covering paint. Let’s be really real…paint is hard…especially when it’s for yourself! So many choices, so little time. After hemming and hawing for weeks and having a long, hard talk with myself…it was time to make a decision. I rolled my sleeves up and put up some samples. Then a few more. Then a few more. Let’s walk through it together and see what we ultimately decided on!

*If you’re just joining us, this is the eighth installment of a year long series documenting the building of our personal dream home. So far we’ve tackled:

Inspiration | Floorplan | Location | Breaking Ground | Roofing | Windows | Insulation | Sheetrock & Plaster

Paint Colors Considered

  • Natural Choice SW7011 by Sherwin Williams
  • Shoji White SW7042 by Sherwin Williams
  • Classic Gray OC-23 by Benjamin Moore
  • Oyster White SW7637 by Sherwin Williams
  • Heron’s Plume SW6070 by Sherwin Williams
  • Ivory Lace SW7013 by Sherwin Williams

Let's Make Some Sample Boards

I headed over to my favorite Sherwin Williams store and purchased little sample quarts of the colors. Rather than put them up on the wall only, I like to make poster boards that can easily be moved around. Different rooms obviously show the colors differently, but so do the walls in the same room.

Let’s put the samples up on the walls

More information is always better! I painted the same samples on the wall to see what that looks like.

starting from top left to right, then bottom left to right

• Natural Choice SW7011 by Sherwin Williams

• Shoji White SW7042 by Sherwin Williams

• Classic Gray OC-23 by Benjamin Moore

• Oyster White SW7637 by Sherwin Williams

• Heron’s Plume SW6070 by Sherwin Williams

• Ivory Lace SW7013 by Sherwin Williams

Bigger Samples

So, now I’m starting to see a few favorites. Let’s dive in a little deeper to those. I really like Classic Gray (which in my humble opinion isn’t gray, like at all) so I painted an entire corner out in it and added the flooring selection (which is GORGEOUS) and the cabinet and tile colors. It’s looking good!

My Epiphany – Finish Considerations

I must mention that, at this point, I had an epiphany. Really. I’ve been using this little system of sample boards, wall samples, then bigger wall samples for 20 years and noticed something. Something bad. The little cans only come in a satin finish. Your actual paint for the room can come in several finishes and you likely won’t be using satin for your walls. I almost always use Matte or Flat. The two finishes of the same color look DRASTICALLY different. This photo shows samples of the same color, made on the same day at the same store, but because of their finishes, they look very different.  I actually created an entire blog post about it here.

FInal Selection

What did we ultimately decide on? Classic Gray, which I don’t believe to be gray at all. It’s the perfect warm neutral. It’s very light, which will be new to us in our personal home, but is just what I want. The white cabinet door contrasts with it nicely, which is perfect! A little tip is that I typically color match the white cabinet for the trim throughout. This is going to be perfect!

Product

We decided to go with Sherwin Williams Duration paint in the Flat finish. It is perfect!

Thanks for following along in the process of building our dream home. Catch up on the series here or visit any of the previous posts directly below.

Inspiration

Floorplan

Location

Breaking Ground

Roofing

Windows

Insulation

Sheetrock & Plaster

FILED UNDER

TAGGED

Share ON

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Hello there! I’m Lori Evans, Interior Designer and co-owner of Evans Construction & Design. Welcome to my world! I created this blog to share all the projects, tips, ideas and inspiration that I have. My goal is to help you make your rooms look even better than your Pinterest boards!

*Receive The Evans Edit for free and never miss a post!*

*Receive The Evans Edit for free and never miss a post!*

Subscribe

Just subscribe to my newsletter
to receive all fresh posts

home3-hero-img.jpg