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Top 10 home design tips

Good interior design entails more than picking out a paint chip and a couple of funky throw pillows. The following tips will help you create spaces so beautiful you may just never want to leave the house.

1. Build around one piece

Whether it’s a hand-painted vase, a tapestry that’s been in your family for generations or a unique fabric, an “inspiration piece” can be a great place to start. From the theme of the room to the complementary color palette of your whole floor plan, it will drive your design direction and dictate the overall style.

2. Know your audience

Always design with the room’s purpose in mind. For instance, tranquil and calming colors are best for bedrooms, while comfortable and welcoming layouts that encourage conversation should be incorporated into the living room. Families with small children should marry style with age-appropriate functionality.

3. Leave it to the pros

Hiring an interior designer can save you both time and money. According to Michelle Peller White, president of the Interior Design Association of WNY, the initial consultation alone can guide you in tackling your entire project — from furnishings, selection and placement to choosing the right wall color (and avoiding the expensive repaint!). Visit to find a design professional and view their portfolios.

4. Do your homework

Spend some serious time scouring through design magazines to get ideas and help determine your style. Peller White recommends Barnes & Noble and Houzz, an online collection of decorating ideas where you can actually talk to the designers via live chats.

5. Hit the garage sales

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Turn that 1970s “I can’t believe it’s not wood” entertainment center into a usable piece with a little paint and imagination. The same goes for bringing an old lamp up-to-date with a repurposed lampshade, or breathing new life into an old chair by reupholstering.

6. Trust your eye

There’s no law that says everything has to be a perfect match. If it looks good together, then it works. Peller White says don’t be afraid to mix the old and the new, as well as different patterns, textures and finishes.

7. Make a statement

Add the element of surprise and a bit of class to your decorating scheme. Carol Schaper of Carol Schaper Interiors Inc. in Hamburg suggests including a particularly ornate or impactful piece that really stands out and makes things visually interesting.

8. Avoid friendly advice

If you want five different answers, then ask five different friends for their opinion. Ultimately, it’s your home and it has to look and feel right to you. If you find you need help, turn to a pro, not a pal. Design professionals are “born with a sense of how to balance a room,” said Schaper.

9. Choose large pieces wisely

That oversized couch is going to be with you a while, so make sure you really like it and go for a neutral color that will lend itself to any future room colors. Danielle Benson of Danielle Benson Interiors in Williamsville suggests you add pop with more interchangeable items such as pillows, accessories and flowers.

10. Don’t be a slave to fashion

Like clothing, interior design trends will come and go, so don’t put all your eggs in the latest decorating craze basket. Benson recommends simply collecting the things you love.

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