Your Space Designed For You

Everyday I get about 5 emails regarding design trends. Trends for colors, trends for flooring, trends in area rugs… well the one that usually catches my eye is the design trends for kitchen and bath. When remodeling your home, either for your own enjoyment or for resale the kitchen and bath are the two rooms that get payback. Trending in kitchen and bath design according to the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) are some of the following:

Transitional Style continues to grow steadily again traditional. Transitional is a seamless blend of traditional and contemporary. A great design style to choose for your home to blend male and female style. A great way style that incorporates sleek modern finishes with antique pieces.

Gray, gray, gray – was is due to that crazy book or is it just a coincidence that the color gray is hot and continues to gain ground above, white, taupes and browns. A gray color scheme in the kitchen has been trending steady from 2010 when it was a mere 9%. In 2013 it has risen to 55% in the kitchen. For bathrooms, in 2010 the % was 12 and now is 56%. Gray is a fantastic color that can be used a neutral. Gray is complimentary to many colors in the color wheel making it easy for designers to work with.

Quartz Countertop in the kitchen and bath has taken a big leap. Many designer are reporting an 80% usage in kitchen with a 65% use in baths. Quartz is a great solid surface that puts its cousin granite for a run. Quartz like granite is stone. Quartz is only 93% stone and 7% resin and color. The best thing about quartz is that it requires no sealing and is rated high enough in sanitation that it can be used in surgical room.


One of my favorite materials to use for backsplashes in a kitchen is Glass! I love backsplash tiles that are glass mixed with other materials such as stone, or even stainless steel. With the combination of under cabinet lighting, glass tile picks up the light and reflects back into the room. Adding depth and eye candy if you want to a normally blank boring space.

Speaking of under cabinet lighting, more and more designer are specifying LED lighting. There are many great options for under cabinet lighting. Be sure to ask your kitchen designer for details on the possibilities.


The use of ceramic and porcelain tile in the bath is a hot trend. Using an under mount sink in the vanity is still a trend but integral bowls or fancy above the counter vessels are still trending.

The never ever ending question; White painted or wood tones for cabinetry. Well it continues for the third year in a row that painted white cabinetry is on the rise. Maybe it is not a trend? Maybe it will just become the standard. With an increase in 2012 of 13% to 55% and this year alone has increased to 67% . Overall painted finishes have taken a big increase over the traditional wood, great example of transitional design.


My thoughts on trends; remember to design your house based on the things that you love and want. Add a few trendy items in but you want the base to be about you. I always say that when someone walks into your home they want to be able to learn a little something about you. You want them to know who lives there. You can tell a lot about someone in the ways their home is designed and kept.

A couple great places to get inspiration for kitchen design ideas is Houzz. Here is link to my Houzz page: Pinterest is another great social media site where I pin ideas and trends that I am keeping and eye on. One place that I always go for ideas is Better Homes and Gardens –

There are just so many options these days for kitchen and baths, my advice to you, take your time in the decision process and find a kitchen designer you can trust!

Happy Decorating

Who Needs Color?

We all need color! I have mentioned this plenty of times that no one needs to be afraid of color. It is my job as a designer to help clients go outside their beige color story and introduce some color. I need to be able to determine how much color is too much for my clients. One thing that I have done in the past so that it is not overwhelming is to bring in color in other ways other than painting the walls. Five ways to add color to your home with out painting the walls!

1 – Change out toss pillows and throws. Many times a sofa that you purchase comes with matching pillows. Typically in the same color as the sofa or a similar color. There is two ways to go about this, save money and cover the pillows yourself with a fun punchy fabric. Second is to purchase toss pillows in fun funky colors and textures.

Photo from Joss & Main

Photo from Joss & Main

2 – Add artwork to your walls. Find a fabric, wrapping paper, or even scrapbook paper that you love and frame it. Simple and inexpensive.

Photo from Entirely Eventful Day

Photo from Entirely Eventful Day

3 – Window treatments are a great way to add color. There are lots of great ready-made treatments that you can purchase for your home. Want something a little more custom? There is an unlimited amount of fabrics to choose from and styles to create exactly what you want.

photo from Better Homes and Garden

photo from Better Homes and Garden

4 – Simply adding fresh flowers. I have said this a million and one times – not only are they pretty but flowers can add the little pop of color that you are looking for. Indoor plants although mostly green add color to your space as well.

photo from Better Homes and Gardens

photo from Better Homes and Gardens

5 -Table Lamps – such a fun and flirty way to add punches of color. With all the stylish lamp bases they have really designed some great shades to compliment them. I think of a table lamp like a bracelet for your wrist.

photo from Great Lighting

photo from Great Lighting

Happy Decorating!

What Color Says about You –

For most of my clients choosing a color can sometimes be the most difficult of all decorating tasks. Why? We all have colors that we just will not put into our homes, some are afraid of color, some colors bring back memories (good and bad). Color can affect one’s mood, productivity, and the colors we choose for our home can tell a story about us.

Color to me is one of the most important pieces of a design. I often say… It’s just paint

Color is a vehicle for expression. We use color everyday to express ourselves in many ways, including our clothing, presentations, cars, flowers we choose to plant and our interiors. Theories show that colors depending on the hue seems to create a different emotional response. Each person may react different but there is a commonality . There are no hard rules or facts but there has been much research done over the centuries dating back 2000 years. Chinese books of medicine show that color was used to treat ailments and affect mood and influence emotions. In the 40’s S.V. Krakov studied how color affects the nervous system using warm and cool colors to invite conversation and relaxation.

color green color yellow

The first room is painted green; saturated in green – Thank you Mother Nature for providing us with green. Green is a multi use color that can promote a sense of harmony, relaxation, peace, calmness, sincerity, generosity.

The next photo shows a room adorned in yellows! One of my favorite colors to use in kitchens, bathrooms and little kids rooms. Yellow has been known to induce the feelings of happiness, joy, optimism, confidence and energy. Yellow can be negative to some and give the feeling of fear. (although very unlikely)

In the next two photos I am showing you two of the best colors for bedrooms, bathrooms, guest rooms, and of course the typical little boy or girl room.

color purple color blue

First we have rich and loyal purple! Gives the feeling of wealth, knowledge, romance, whimsical, inspiration, purification and spiritual feelings. Purple is a color on the color wheel that can be used with a variety of other colors, greens, yellows and even orange are nice colors to compliment.  One of my go combinations is blue and white. The white gives blue such a crisp clean feel. Blue has always been known to promote the feelings of calmness, rest, peace but also has been shown to produce a sense of acceptance, spaciousness and flexibility.

One of the scariest colors to many people is RED! Over the years red has been painted at a scary angry color. Depending on the saturation of red that is used it can actually be a very welcoming color in your home.

color red

Red can often give the feelings of vitality, strength, warmth, and sensuality. The negative feelings that can come from reds are anger, anxiousness, and impatience. In the photo above, the red that is used is a nice rich and deep red, creating welcoming feeling that will engage individuals in conversation because the red is used as a stimulant (look around most restaurants)

I have been using a lot of different words to describe colors, I have mentioned that colors have many different tones, hues, values… What does all that mean? Here is a quick color 101lesson:

Tint: base color adding white

Shade: base color adding black

Tone: base color adding gray

Hue: blue compared to blue-green

Saturation: relative purity of a color (also called intensity)


When I mentioned pairing purple and orange together many of you probably thought I was nutty, but If you take a very grey toned purple then the two blend nicely in a color story. (Think Halloween)

Color can be tricky and most important you have to remember that putting paint on the wall is just that, it is just paint! You can paint over it – it is a very easy solution to update a room, add an accent wall, and show off a little of your personality in your space. Do not be scared to be daring after all it is your space designed for you.

Happy Decorating!

Fall is Here! So Now What?

I stated earlier on my facebook page that this is officially my favorite time of year to decorate! I am not talking your everyday decor, (I love that year round) I am talking about adding in the little seasonal touches to make the home cozy. It is the time of year when it starts to get darker earlier, candle light lingers longer, the smells of the season warms you up and not to mention the colors, oh the Colors!!!
I think one of my favorite areas to decorate this time of year is the fireplace mantel – Do you have a fireplace mantle that needs some seasonal love? No mantel in your home; that is okay, a decorative shelf or table top surface works perfect as well.
Here are some tips to add some love and design to it!
* Use organic elements in your design: find a couple of birch logs in the yard, trim them to size and place on your mantle with real or faux leaves. Fall is a time of harvest and adding organic elements to your decor is an easy way to celebrate the season.

spotted on BHG

spotted on BHG

spotted on BHG

spotted on BHG

The photo above is a great example of adding little touches to your current decor. Simply adding some branches and leaves gives you a pop of color. A simple addition like this takes very little time or money (specially if you find them in the back yard)

* Be creative – paint some pumpkins! – I love the photo below; simple additions to everyday decor to add some seasonal charm.

spotted on BHG

spotted on BHG

* Practice layering – as with decorating your mantel year round, catch the eye of your guests, draw them into your display. Create depth, texture and drama with layers of frames, mirrors and knick knacks. As in the photo above; Layering can be from the wall out or from the mantel surface up – do not be afraid to stack things on top of one another.

* Don’t like the look of rustic for fall – dress up your mantel with golds, burnt oranges and reds.

spotted on Pinterest

spotted on Pinterest

This is the photo that made me realize it was seasonal decorating time! I love the colors in this photo – The blues remind me of the crisp Autumn sky, blended with the golden colors of leaves and the dramatic contrast of branches.

My last tip for this seasons decorating is:

*Do not over think it – the fall season as I mentioned before is about the harvest – keep it simple, organic and fun and you will have a great seasonal display!

spotted on BHG

spotted on BHG

Have questions? Need help? Give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you create your perfect seasonal decor!

Some great places to purchase seasonal items are; Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and Pier One Imports! Happy Decorating!

I was reading an article this morning about kid work spaces – and it struck some interest and made me think, hey many of you out there have kiddos and need to clear off the kitchen table each night after homework time. I sifted through the photos that Apartment Therapy shared and it inspired me to reach out and let you all know that it is possible to add a small work space in your home for your kids!
Interior design isn’t just for adults, kids need it too! Think back when you were a child and how you kept your room? What color were the walls? Do you remember any particular piece of furniture? My parents were great they let me paint and repaint my room a couple of times. I do remember that I always had a desk or vanity in my room that I could sit at to do my homework or what ever I wished.

With my background in Early Childhood Education I feel that it is very important for a child to have a work space to be able to focus on homework, journaling, art or what ever it is that they need that special space for. Not only is it a drag for parents to have to deal with the kitchen table covered with kid stuff but it can be a busy area and your child may prefer to have it quiet so they can work better and concentrate.

In the blog I was reading they showed 30 different ideas – I will post a few of those photos for inspiration for you all.

spotted on Apartment Therapy

spotted on Apartment Therapy

I really like the simplicity of this work space – a simple desk area added to a child’s bedroom can mean a world of difference. Having a desk area for a child not only helps them with studies but organization skills as well and the need to keep things in an orderly fashion.

kids space 4

spotted on Apartment Therapy

If you have a large space that can be dedicated to a work area this is a great option – adding peg board to the back wall means that this space can grow with your child. Starts off a crafty area and over time evolves to a full work station. Having the pegs and being able to move around items gives flexibility. It is also a great space to be able to display art work, awards or well done pieces of work.

spotted on Apartment Therapy

spotted on Apartment Therapy

Simplicity at its best! Do not have a lot of room? A small desk and chair in front of a window will be a great work area. Using the view out the window as inspiration you never know what your child could create.

The photo below reminds me of a workspace I would have loved to have as a teen – plenty off space to put photos of my friends, my knick-knacks and books. A great way to a

spotted on Apartment Thereapy

spotted on Apartment Therapy

add space to a room is use a wall between two windows, typically not much can fit in that space. Usually ends up being wasted space in a room.

There are many ways to add a workspace to your home for your growing child that can grow with them over time. Back to school is just around the corner – take back your kitchen table before you lose it for the whole school year!

Need help to plan out the space? Have and idea; just don’t know how to implement it? Give KJ Designs a call and we can help!

One thing I love about being a designer is that I have the opportunity to create or purchase a headboard for a client. There is just something about a bedroom that lacks a headboard, I feel that it looks unfinished and dull. Once you put a headboard behind the bed it creates a whole new look. Most headboards are used to add comfort and style to your bedroom. Some maybe used for extra storage or even room dividers if living in a studio apartment.
So where did the headboard come from?  With origins dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece the headboard has come a long way. From what I have read the history of the headboard starts with the Egyptian pharaohs. They had headboards carved in ebony, silver and gold. Obviously not for comfort! I am sure that it was a symbol of wealth and power.

egyptian bed

Egyptian Bed

The Greeks and Romans took a more practical approach to the headboard and designed a basic platform made of wood with a headboard. They used this design to protect themselves from drafts – smart thinkers! As time passed the design of the four-poster bed and canopy came along in the Middle Ages. These were more elaborate and adorned with intricate details. The bed during the these times was the most important piece of furniture in wealthy and poor homes, not to mention probably the most expensive. Why have a canopy with fabrics to drape around the bed? Now we think of it as a romantic look, but when the design was first thought of, it was a great need to keep the sleepers warm and free from the bitter cold nights and drafts.

Louis xiv period

Louis xiv period

So I guess the answer has been answered whether or not to have a headboard! The answer is simply YES!




The above photos is a custom headboard that was made for a young teen, who wanted to update and make her room feel and look more stylish and hip. For about $200 I created this headboard for her. We didn’t change the paint color or the furniture. We did add new lighting to show off the piece.

Upholstered Headboards came popular in the 17th Century. This is the time when bedroom became more private and the headboard was designed for comfort. Reading in bed and relaxing ( what is that? ) The upholstery for a headboard needs to be taken into consideration, be sure to use durable fabrics that can hold up to oils from hair.

There are many ways to add a headboard to a bedroom without spending a ton of cash – Have a favorite tapestry or fabric? Attach clip rings and a rod to the wall and hang behind the bed. Will not add comfort, but you will get the finished look you are craving.

Idea spotted on Apartment Therapy

idea spotted on Apartment Therapy

For a client I have used shutters and filled in the louvers with batting and fabric –

Headboard designed by KJ Designs

Headboard designed by KJ Designs

Now we have a little history about the Headboard and we have the answer to whether or not have one – Who needs help finding one or creating one?

Lighting 101 –

None of us ever have enough lighting in our home, most of us do not even know what appropriate lighting is. Did you know that lighting can make or break a rooms character?
There are a few different types of lighting, lets call them layers; that you need to be aware of when adding lighting to a room.
First I will go over the layers of lighting and the impact they have on a room. Then I will show you some great options for lighting…

  • The ambient layer is general overhead lighting such as, recessed or ceiling mounted.
  • The task layer is oriented to any area where tasks will be performed such as desk lamps or under-cabinet lights.
  • The focal layer is used to focus attention to artwork or displays.
  • The decorative layer is any lighting chosen to enhance the overall feel of a space.
Spotted on

Spotted on

How many of the lighting layers do you see in this photo? 3 Ambient, task and decorative. The overhead pendant is the ambient lighting, the two lamps on the side table provide lighting for tasks and the sconces over the fireplace are for decorative purposes.

spotted on

spotted on

In the above photo the designer does an excellent job of using all 4 of the layers.

It is important to include as many if not all of the layers of lighting to have a complete lighting plan. Interior Designers have training in lighting  and can help you with lighting plans for new construction and remodel projects as well as updating décor.  There are many options for updating and adding layers of lighting if they do not exist in your home already. For example you can add under cabinet lighting easily and pretty inexpensively without having to hire an electrician.  Here is a link to Lowes for under cabinet lighting.

Updating recessed lighting to create a more direct light over a sink or island is easy with kits that can adapt the old recess to a pendant lighting. Adding a table lamp to a side table or to a console table is easy and can be very affordable. They even sell up lights that can be used to up light artwork, statues or important art pieces.


Simply plug-in and hide it behind a chair or sofa to create drama in your space.  These can be purchased for as little at $13.00 from There are so many options available for lighting and creating different moods in each room of your home.

Lighting is a very easy and quick way to update your home, add a little extra character and function. Need help? You know who to call! KJ Designs is here to help you.

Happy Decorating!

A few weeks ago I was hiking along in the White Mountains with a group of friends. We were embarking on a 38 mile hike over 2 days. ( I know crazy right!) I was thinking what am I going to talk about for 38 miles? We chatted about life, love, tears, and my design business! Who would have thought that business would have been on my mind. It really all started because I saw a mushroom, a simple mushroom growing in the ground with green moss and brownish grey twigs… Inspiration comes from everywhere, I stated.
I wish I could recreate this exact feeling in my home as I have right now looking at this little mushroom. My friend says to me – you can! You’re the designer! lol duh!


Here is a little mushroom – Mother natures way off adding a little pop of color to any room in her home.

Yesterday as I was out walking the trails in the Whites I came across another mushroom that made me think again – inspiration can be any where!


so now we have a color story of greens, brownish grey, orange and pink… hmmm


and now I have found a fabric that the colors are inspired by the colors I see in nature. Just because the inspiration was the mushrooms, greens and sticks doesn’t mean that the fabrics, colors and décor need to be just that. Taking the feeling you get from those items and finding things that remind you of them. This fabric is a very organic pattern, the vines and flowers are part of nature. Softer color tones than that in the mushrooms, but very similar.

Whether you’re in the mountains, on the ocean or sitting in the city; inspiration is everywhere!  Have an inspiration but not sure how to use in your home? Let me help!

Happy decorating!

I say update not remodel – so updating your kitchen could include new hardware, faucet, backsplash, paint, window treatments, appliances and countertops, and even as simple as cleaning up the counters and looking at storage solutions for everyday items. In the photos below I worked with a client in Nashua, where the cabinets she had were in great condition and the layout worked really well for her and her family. She wanted to update a few items and create a more modern feel. Here is a before photo:


After a couple of hours of discussing what the client wanted to do in her kitchen we decided to do some inexpensive updates. The list included backsplash, paint, lighting and hardware. I figured about $1000 for this great update! I left her home to create a color story and put the plan in action. A few hours after I had left she also decided to update the countertops and appliances! We had the budget talk and excluding the appliances we set a budget of $6000. No problem even with granite countertops! That is where the biggest chunk of budget will go. An option that you have to update your countertops and not spend $5000 is to look at laminate. There are some great options out there that look like granite! For example:


Below is another before shot of the kitchen. The deep red was looking old and out of date, we wanted to brighten up the space, so with 2 gallons of a light tan and keeping the white bead-board, the goal was accomplished. The cabinets are a great natural maple and with the lack of contrast in the countertop we decided to go with a dark surface. The cabinets had nickel pulls that didn’t stand out against the light cabinets, so we opted to add brushed nickel (which has a little brownish black color to it to still tie the new stainless appliances) to play off the new darker countertop.


Over the peninsula lighting was dull with 2 can lights, with a light kit the client changed the can lights to two pendant lights to add a pop of color and visual interest to the kitchen. Below is after photos of the kitchen. The backsplash ties the dark countertop and the light cabinets together. In the photo you can not see that the existing floor is a light stone tile, which is also tied in with the backsplash tile.

001  005


The total cost of the update excluding the appliances came to be just over $5000.  Woohoo way under budget! This allowed for us to do a quick update to the eat in kitchen area that adjoins the kitchen!

116 004

Before                                                                                  After

The walls were painted when we painted the kitchen, so with the $1000 left from the kitchen budget we updated the lights over the table, purchased a new table and chairs from IKEA and selected new window treatments from JC Penny Home.

Simply cleaning up the clutter off the table and countertops helped to make it look more spacious and bright as well. I do believe that we still came in under the $6000 budget for both rooms!

Want to learn how you can update your kitchen with a small to moderate budget? We offer a free in home consultation to go over your project and talk one on one about budgeting and design questions.

Happy Decorating!

Creating a Story

The other day I was standing Circle Furniture with Bernadette, a very kind and helpful woman who works there. She is an artist and a designer as well. We were chatting it up about colors and texture and all the things that make a designer smile. We moved into the furniture talk ( I mean we are in a furniture store so it was bound to happen). I expressed to her my feeling about designing a room with all matching pieces and why I do not like it.
For example –

This photo is designed with all matching furniture, A very traditional room. Beautiful it most definitely is; but does it draw you in? Does it give you something to talk about? Make you want to curl up in bed and read a good book?

Example 2:


This design is more eclectic, using a similar wood tone in each of the pieces it creates unity in the design. The headboard here is upholstered which offers a softer feel and look. Does this draw you in? Give you more to look at? With the different pieces it creates texture and interest. Breaking up the matching sets does wonders for a room.

Here is another example of a matched set:


A great sense of symmetry, but, does it speak to you? Tell you a little something about the person who sleeps here?


Mixing it up again! two different side tables, one more modern and the other could be an antique, not having a headboard that matches the side tables adds that extra visual interest.

Mixing and matching furniture and style to create an eclectic room that works and doesn’t look like a pile of stuff is not that easy. It takes time and thought. When using multiple pieces of furniture made from wood keep in mind it is okay to mix wood types; but keep with the same tones in wood. Does not have to be exact. It is okay to mix a straight line contemporary piece with a curvy antique piece. Mixing wood and metal is a great way to add visual interest and give an eclectic look. In the two photos with the eclectic look note that the designer used matching lights for the beside. By doing that the designer brings the room together creating the unity that is welcomed with an eclectic design.

I know that it is easy to walk into a furniture store and choose a bedroom set that is all put together. That is why the big stores do that! They make it easy for the consumer. I want to help you reach outside the box and create a space that is all put together about you! Taking Grandma’s sewing table and mixing it with a shabby chic side table and an upholstered headboard might be easier than you think!

Happy Decorating!

(all photos were found via a general search on HGTV and bedroom images on google)

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