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Denise's Design Dogma | A Baker's Dozen

Quality Pillows

Hello there! I'm sure that it will fast become obvious this is my first foray into blogdom, but for the first one (or ten), please be a forgiving audience. I will try to keep them short and sweet as we go forward. As a matter of fact, this first post started as a "Top Twenty" and I'm quite proud to say that I was able to whittle that down to a baker's dozen - hence the title above. You see, I often have clients tease me about what one recently coined "Denise's Design Dogma" and well, I thought that was the perfect title for some free advice I'd like to share with you all, potential client or just passerby. Anyway, Iet's dig right in for the passersby, eh?

These are not in order of importance, by the way. They are all important, lol...

1. No 'boob lights' - ever - under no circumstances - ever! (Don't know what a boob light is you say? Ever seen those flush-mount, upside-down, dome-shaped lights with a tip on the end. Yup, that's a "boob" light. If you see one, "accidentally" break it right away and replace with anything else!)

2. No light kits on ceiling fans. Well, almost always. Full disclosure: there is one industrial fan I came across (just once, mind you) for whom I broke this rule, but 99% of the time it's just a no-no. Bottom line here is that light kits are dated.

3. Recognize how important the role of PROPER lighting is in your design and address accordingly. (This seems to be the number one problem in most every home I remodel. Most of you, even some designers ::sigh::, underestimate necessary ambient lighting AND fixture scale as well. And, by the way, if you haven't yet discovered LED retrofit screw-in cans, you should. But, be careful. You need just the right lumens and wattage for it to be 'life-changing' in the good way.)

4. If you decide to work with a designer, work with a designer. (Yes, and all that implies. I'm a proponent for due diligence; do it thoroughly. Actually, do it so thoroughly that you are able to reach a modicum of trust with him/her before you begin. Vet, vet, vet. Check references; view portfolios, websites, FB pages, and Instagram. Talk about expectations and communication styles as well as process. Then, once you execute an agreement, move forward trying to trust your professional designer/contractor. I know it's not always easy to let go, but you truly get more for your money that way.)

5. Definitely work within a budget, but as the old saying goes, don't be penny wise and pound foolish. One way to avoid this is to make sure your priorities are the right ones, the ones which will accomplish the most bang for your buck. If you aren't sure, hire someone and find out, even if it's just for a brief consult.

6. This is an old one, but it still rings true: measure twice, cut once, but really measure three times! (Especially important for those of us who think we don't have to measure at all.)

7. Layering is essential to great design!!! (In all things - textures, fabrics, furnishings - layering is our designer's trick that makes it all work. Remember to layer. This is probably the most important item on this list.)

8. If you identify with an aesthetic from a favorite national chain retail store (to protect the innocent, I won't name any), by all means, buy a piece or two to include here and there, but use that resource very selectively. (In fact, use many, many different resources. Refer to #7 above please or your spaces will look like a poor version of their catalog instead of a reflection of your style, life, and travels.)

9. Very often, less really is more. (I'd rather have one amazing piece in a room than too many uninspired pieces cluttering the space.)

10. Have at least one splurge item and a touch of black in every room.

11. To the chagrin and wonderment of husbands everywhere (and some wives actually), quality pillows are as important (and sometimes as costly) as a fine upholstered piece of furniture. It's okay to whine and sulk about it, but at the end of the day, you should just deal.

12. This one may be controversial, but here goes. When choosing a designer, I believe you should hire someone who can do good work within many different architectures and styles, no matter what their personal aesthetic or brand. Make sure you hand the reins to someone who is able to leave YOU delighted with your project's outcome in the end.

13. And lastly, rounding out my Baker's dozen, except for the rules on this list, break the rules! (You know the old design rules and myths -the generally accepted, old-fashioned rules - have fun and break 'em. But, take care to remember that eclectic design doesn't mean anything goes either!)

Hope this helps guide you just a bit toward good design and great spaces,

Denise Cassata, The Room Whisperer

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