3 Tools for Fearless Room Makeovers


Do you ever say, “I hate how my living room looks”?

Most of us have space in our home we don’t love – maybe a bathroom, bedroom or entry. But instead doing something about it many of us just live with it because we’re afraid of making an expensive room makeovers mistakes. Or we worry that we’ll spend a lot of money and energy on it and it won’t come together.

Redesigning your room doesn’t need to be intimidating. The key is to have a plan. Too many of us buy on impulse. Maybe we fall in love with something or run into a really great sale we just can’t pass up. Then we’re stuck with something that just doesn’t work.

You need a plan that includes three design tools that can make you fearless and confident as you approach your room redo project. Watch this 3-minute video to learn what they are:


So if you’ve ever felt afraid of spending big bucks on a piece of furniture or a room redesign and then not loving it, welcome to the club. We ALL feel that way, including me at times. What I’ve learned is how to deal with these problems through step-by-step processes, so I can minimize mistakes, take the fear out of getting started, and put the fun back in!

My Design Coach Series programs teach you step-by-step systems and techniques that you can apply to YOUR design project. Click here to learn more and make sure to grab a copy of my free ebook – 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover.

Coming Soon - An online course to help you get your dream space

If you're someone who's had a conversation with me in the past couple of years you know that I've been planning to create an online design program for a very, very long time! Well, that course is finally coming to life and it's really exciting. I love teaching and definitely hate to see people make costly mistakes or end up with spaces that don't work for them. I also know that it's easy to find a picture or a room you love, but a lot harder to actually re-create that look and feel in your own space. This course will walk you through the design process step-by-step with videos, worksheets, templates, and most of all, insider tips. If you want a taste of what the course will help with, download my e-book, "10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover".  Signing up for the book will also put you on the list to stay in the loop about when the course is going live (and don't worry, I'm way too busy to cram your inbox with frequent mailings, just one every few weeks or so).  Oh, and did I mention that the book is free?

Screenshot 2014-11-25 13.36.35
Screenshot 2014-11-25 13.36.35

Here I am on the first day of video shooting - fun but I definitely feel more comfortable on the OTHER side of the camera!


I'll keep you posted....and let me know what YOUR biggest design challenge is so I can make sure to include it in the course.

The Sweeten featuring CAVDesign

In case you are not familiar with the Sweeten, they pair folks looking for home design, repair, and renovation with a perfect match, selected from their carefully screened tradespeople -- kind of like a dating site for homeowners, contractors and architects/designers. Members also get updates and newsletters like the one below featuring a CAVdesign project. You'll see from the befores and afters that the new storage really helped the homeowners tidy up the place! Thanks to the Sweeten for thinking of CAVdesign.

The Sweeten

Because of our New York Magazine coverage we’ve got a  bunch of new projects in the works. They are all in the early stages of construction though. So, for this week's 'site visit', we asked Jennifer of CAV Design to give us a tour of a kitchen renovation she finished in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn just under a year ago. Below are some images of the project and you can check out this awesome video as well!

The client for this project, a travel writer who loves to cook, was looking for a more streamlined and functional kitchen for his young family. Jennifer explained that one of the constraints she was working with in the redesign was a limited budget. This was of no consequence in the end, as she beautifully pulled off a custom look with an Ikea kitchen!

Here’s Jennifer, owner of CAV Design.

A couple  of 'before' shots. The clients weren't totally satisfied with the look and functionality of their existing kitchen.

Inside, we can see one of the biggest flaws of the existing kitchen--the stove is located immediately adjacent to a wall! Hope none of the chefs here were left-handed...

And here's a head-on view of the great changes CAV Design brought. Working with these Nexus Brown Ikea cabinets (no longer available, sorry!), Jennifer was able to increase the available storage by expanding the island, as well as running cabinets up to the ceiling. The ceiling-high cabinetry also reduces dust space overhead, and creates an appealing effect of built-ins!

Jennifer knew that major changes to the appliances would end up causing problems with the budget later on. Taking this into account she was able to make some subtle, yet substantial improvements. The oven was moved to the right by 12".  This added  some space for a narrow cabinet. Then, to avoid the overbearing look of 2 appliances next to each other, the dishwasher was replaced and perfectly camouflaged with a Nexus Brown Ikea dishwasher!

For the new floor, Jennifer went with an oversize ceramic tile, 12" x 24" in "Roca Azila" from Brooklyn's Galactic Tiles. Counter-intuitively, large floor tiles can make a small space look bigger.

Great work & big thanks, CAV Design!

 The Sweeten can help you find and hire the most talented & dedicated contractors, designers and architects in nyc.

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Color Palettes - How-to Guide

It's pretty common to get stuck on how to create a fun but coordinated color palette. The key is to create a palette and stick with it. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I figured a video must be worth, well, a lot more, so here's the first in a series of Design Coaching videos to get you started!

You can use what you have and like as inspiration: •a piece of favorite clothing (I have some scarves that really inspire) •artwork or photographs •palettes from nature (think woods, misty scottish highlands, fall colors) •a rug

If you get stuck, here are some resources to jump start things:


http://www.colorblender.com/(go to browse blends)




1. Stick to three colors. two main ones and one accent colors.

2. Vary the look by shade and value of the same color. In other words, you can always go darker or lighter within the same color family, which is another way to create variety while sticking with the palette.

3. Stick with neutral colors for larger pieces like sofas. You can always pull in colors with pillows and accessories, or a throw.

4. Order oversize paint chips to check paint color and keep track of your choice. The video shows you how to order free through Benjamin Moore.

5.Create a portable reference chart. After I've pulled a few ideas I like, I match them to paint colors so I can create a reference board, which is just color chips taped to a piece of paper of card stock. I can carry this with me for shopping so I can make sure I don't go astray from my palette.

6. Don't try to match colors from a computer monitor. Remember, colors on a computer monitor are rarely accurate, so don't count on anything you see online for matching

Remember, color doesn't always have to hit you over the head -- it can be subtle. If you do prefer a more neutral palette, incorporate textures to keep it varied: wood, metal, mirror, sheepskin, nubby weaves, all add to the vibe of the room. You can also  add interest with a feature wall -- wallpaper, a high gloss paint, or a subtle glaze in a soft gray. Pretty!

Making Book

I’ve always loved artist books as a format -- probably due to the combination of surface treatment and physical architecture, which I relate to interior design. The past couple of weeks I’ve noticed a few book-related items in my inbox, so I thought I’d share them here.

My friend Maranne Petit has just completed a formidable series of fold-out books based on German cautionary ‘fairy-tales’ -- I say cautionary because the kids always come out on the short end of the stick.  My grandparents were German, and I remember them joking about the German expression “Don’t throw the baby out with bathwater”. These Struwwelpeter stories are brought to you by the same people who came up with that phrase. The books are in several very interesting formats and incorporate electronics as well. Click the link to see videos of the books in action.
This is a wedding proposal by illustrator Guy Shield with a series of comic book panels, that when folded up, 'pop' the question. Please look at the whole story on Guy's blog (link above) to see all the work and detail that he put into this! Oh, and of course she said yes.
If you are interested in making books or want to see some stellar examples, visit The Center for Book Arts. They offer classes in bookbinding, pop-up engineering (yes, that's right) and much more. If you'd like to check it out in a festive atmosphere, there will be an opening reception for a show by artist Harvey Tulcensky's  on Wednesday, April 14th from 6-8pm. They are located at 28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor , New York, New York 10001 (212) 481-0295
If book cover-art is of interest to you, take a look at Chip Kidd's Book One. Actually, you should just buy it! It is a great read -- very inspiring. His way of approaching each project with a fresh eye is a reminder for anyone in the creative fields to let the subject guide you to the solution, and not to revert to your old bag of design tricks.