Decorating: A Cheat Sheet

Most everyone I come in contact with when I tell them I’m an interior designer tells me how much they could use my help in their home. I laugh it off, until I actually get to their home and I think to myself yeah, they do need my help.

Interior decorators have an eye for what looks good in a space. It’s part schooling and part instinct. We have the ability to see a room as a blank canvas and see it’s potential of what could be. What I love most about my job is the reveal. I design mostly hotel lobbies, and I love seeing real guests walk into a newly renovated lobby and say, “WOW!” That’s what I live for. You can’t buy that satisfaction.

I recently fell in love with this living room and dining room design because it’s the formula of great design. I love every bit of it from the leopard pillows to that vibrant pop of Kelly green. I’m dying to get my hands on my own property so I can decorate the way I really want to. You just feel so limitless in a rental. I already and drawn to navy and white, so this was just cherry on top.

Jennifer, from Dimples and Tangles, is the owner of this gorgeous, funky space. You can deny it; this space is chic! If you look at her entire house tour, you’ll see she loves playing with color. They are aspect of her home that I want to photocopy and purchase every bit and incorporate into my home. But what fun would that be? It’s no fun to copy exactly someone’s space, because then it isn’t yours. So, I wanted to break this design down and show you just how easy it is to use some of these elements to create a unique space of your own.

PSA: You can create a space that is magazine worthy without hiring a designer.

Whoops, did I just say that?

I’m not trying to knock designers, because I myself am one. I’m not, however, a residential designer so I’m not worried about sharing my secrets. There’s nothing greater than the look of a space that has a designer touch, but there is a simple formula for totally transforming your space to the way you like it following someone else’s design.

So what I’ve done is created a cheat sheet based off of the design scheme that’s going on in Jennifer’s home. No matter what color scheme you want, this cheat sheet will work the same way. Now, I have no clue what the paint colors, fabrics, etc. Jennifer used in her home actually are; this is simply a reproduction of the space if I were planning on doing in in someone’s home.


First, you pick a neutral paint color for your walls. This particular shade is Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, or better known as the Most Popular Paint Color Ever. Next, you need two accent paint colors. I chose BM Advance Kelly Green and Bold Blue. These are also going to act as accent colors throughout the space whether you actually paint something or not. Jennifer painted the dresser in her foyer a deep navy blue and she threw a pair of green lamps on top. It’s dynamite! You’ll see these colors throughout her home. It’s okay to toss another color in like red or pink, but use in sparingly like in the table runner in the dining room. Pink is always a good idea!

Then, you choose a timeless black and white pattern. Jennifer used polka dots in the dining room and bold stripes in a pair of lamps over the fireplace. She also has a little bit of this gorgeous Greek key outlined on a pair of pillows. Stay away from using these patterns in bright colors. Black and white is so classic and always looks great added in with any scheme.

Next, choose three fabrics. Jennifer has a little more, but three is a great place to start for beginners. I chose a charcoal linen (for drapery or an ottoman) a white leather (for the sofa or lounge chair), and a fun leopard print (for accent pillows). Keep in mind, that your fabrics can be used for multiple pieces. When you feel comfortable with three, add in a brown leather and a couple of other fun pillow fabrics.

Next, pick your metal. For I like to tell beginners to stick with one, because mixing metals is a great art. It can be done, but uniformity is easy and will guarantee a great look. Gold and silver are most popular but rose gold, bronze, and copper are also fun to use.

After your metal, pick your wood finish. This is another hard one because designers are taught to play with multiple wood finishes. If you have a classic hardwood floor, try using a dark chocolate for furniture. If you have a darker hardwood floor, try painting your wood furniture white or light gray to brighten up the space. The main goal is to have a big enough contrast that your furniture will stand out. Jennifer has mostly carpet in her living spaces, so a darker wood looks better.

And last but not least, play with other texture in your accessories. Baskets, hide rugs, exposed brick, and a little fur are great ways to bring in warmth to your space. I love Jennifer’s exposed brick fireplace. A lot of people would think to paint it, but in her case it looks so great as it is. Jennifer also likes to accessorize, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Sometimes less is more, but in her case everything is arranged perfectly. Be careful when you are accessorizing that you don’t create clutter. I love creating little vignettes throughout my home. A mirrored tray with a small accent piece, a candle, and a vase with fresh flowers is my go-to.

And there you have it. A perfectly designed space – every time. This is what I do when I am in the preliminary stages of any design. It’s never let me down.

I’m eager to see this formula put to the test. If you try it out, please let me know and post pictures so I can see. If you’ve found you need a little more help, feel free to contact me. After all, this is what I get paid for!


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