ALL POSTS IN Decorating Guides

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You know that one funny story you tell that friends and family members get a kick out of, so much so that they consistently ask you to recite it or perform it because it brings them joy? I do. Mine is this stupid story about how when I was 17-years-old and working at a toy store for extra Christmas money, a shady couple came into the store, then had a friend distract me while they ran out with about $275 in rubber dinosaurs and marbles. We never caught them, but hey… the joke’s on them. They stole rubber Stegosauruses and cheap marbles.

About three years ago, I swapped this yuletide tale for a design trick I did in my own home and in a restaurant I designed in Midtown, Atlanta. What was the trick? Rubber Pterodactyl and green marble wallpaper. Just kidding. I’m talking about ginormous wall murals, particularly those sporting photographs printed on vinyl. After about three back-to-back projects with clients requesting these, I made it a point to completely stay away from using them for the sake of not becoming a one-trick-pony. Well, since interior design is a business and businesses are all about making money, I recently got over this and started embracing the many fantastic super gigantic wall murals there are to choose from online. Cha-ching! From very big decals to custom photographs more than 11 feet tall, take a look at what I’ve found on the internets. And just for old time’s sake, I even included a dinosaur. But I left out the marbles.

Mega Print

If you are vain and have fallen in love with a particular photograph that captured you from that perfect angle, giving you a super defined chin you like to think that you always have, perhaps you can immortalize yourself on your wall with Megaprint. The company can print your personal photo as a larger than life vinyl mural. If you do this, keep in mind that black and white photos seem to have greater longevity, since they won’t tie you into any specific color scheme until you move.

Mega Print

In addition to photographs, Megaprint can also print large-scale graphics, an excellent way to add some colorful, branded life to your company’s office space.
Butterfly Elements

Casart may be the most brilliant thing since sliced bread…seriously. I hate that saying because when people utter those words, they pretend it’s funny. Kinda like when someone pronounces Target [TAR jay] like they are the first to ever say it like that. Anyway, Casart creates murals, wallpaper and graphics that are, get this, RE-STICKABLE! Ah! This is life-changing for a designer who deals with tons of condos on a regular basis. I love these super-sized butterflies. Just one of these doozies paired with sleek, modern furniture is enough to quickly and affordably fill up a small bedroom.

Blik Scan Forest
Blik Scan Branches

Blik is the very first decal company I ever used back on a TV makeover series I used to design for. They have an enormous range of modern creations for kids and adults. The products come in clear packaging and include burnishers, which are all that’s needed to apply them. Two of their most timeless creations are To Scan A Forest and Branches.

Sissy Little Spinosaurus

Well whaddyaknow? A dinosaur! At least this time, it won’t include the aforementioned kleptomaniac toy store cheaters. Sissylittle carries a few giant-scale dinosaurs that are kiddie enough for the kids but modern enough for their parents to enjoy. Or cool enough for self-proclaimed mature geeks and nerds to decorate with in their apartments. (You know, those Big Bang Theory, long live Pluto types.)


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If you’re a Harry Potter fan, are related to an HP fan or are friends with one, you’ve no doubt heard about J.K. Rowling’s exciting announcement this morning. The author has partnered with SONY to create Pottermore, an interactive, partially user-generated, free-to-use Harry Potter community and “online reading experience” launching this October. While you won’t learn much about the site’s content in J.K. Rowling’s announcement video (although the animated book pages are charming and should not be missed), outside sources promise that through Pottermore “the storylines will be brought to life with sumptuous newly-commissioned illustrations and interactive ‘moments’ through which you can navigate.” So now, we wait for the Beta to launch July 31st, shortly after the final film installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. In the meantime, check out some magical designs inspired by the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Wedding

Olde-tyme curiosity shoppe charm, tea-stained book pages and well-worn metallics come together in this Harry Potter wedding inspiration board from Oh, Hello Friend.

Harry Potter Rooms

This hazy, antiquated dining room from {this is glamorous} has a neglected charm reminiscent of  the secret headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.


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A recent article revealed that one in 10 families never sit down and enjoy an evening meal together. If folks aren’t making it to the kitchen table, then the dining room must be one of the most unused room in the house. It’s time to disband this mindset and start getting the family back together again (sans TV trays and personal computers). Why not commit to eating in the dining room one night a week. Not just holidays and special occasions. And if your dining room is feeling a little tired after years of “just-passing-throughs”, you can easily transform it into a fresh, inviting space. Check out these top tips from HGTV’s Dining Room Design Guide. And don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to eat every meal in your new favorite room.

1. Spice It Up With a Fresh, New Color Palette


Christopher J. Grubb

A color transformation can work wonders, so say goodbye to dull and welcome a cozy and inviting new hue to your dining room. Whether you coat the walls with paint or express the color palette through new accessories, give your dining room the color boost it desperately needs.

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Attention all guidos and guidettes: Season 4 of MTV’s mega-popular Jersey Shore will take place in Italy. Italians and Italian-Americans alike are fuming over MTV’s decision to send the party-hardy cast to their supposed Motherland. But we at Design Happens are happy for Snooki and her tanned-and-gelled crew. Maybe, just maybe, after soaking up Italy’s classical architecture, inspiring design and century-old artisan traditions, the kids will aspire to upgrade their Seaside, NJ digs.

Jersey Shore Cast

Do you think there’s hope? I searched high and low for the best in Italian and Tuscan design from’s Designers’ Portfolio for a glimpse of what a Jersey Shore home makeover might look like upon their return to our fair country.

Class It Up

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I loooove decorating bathrooms. It makes no sense, because the benefits are rarely reaped (except for last year’s bout with food poisoning, but that’s inappropriate to discuss in this forum). I think that’s why I love bathroom designs so much — they’re unexpected and often neglected spaces of the home. In fact, I tend to use as many non-bathroom furnishings as possible in my lavatories, just to make guests twitch. I’m surprising that way.

So naturally, my bathroom ideas are overflowing, (ha! pun!) and I’m absolutely thrilled to share them. We have two bathrooms: one for guests/future kids (not yet, Ma!) and one for ourselves, which happens to be bigger than my first Los Angeles apartment. I’m a lucky girl, indeed.

Care to see what I’ll be doing with each space? Here comes the style board for the master bath suite!

Click for Inspiration

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Autumn has been, and will always be, my favorite season. Which says a lot, because I generally don’t play favorites. My tastes change often and I hate hierarchies, so put 2 + 2 together and you’ve got a recipe 4 a pretty scatterbrained girl. Ha! Do you see what I did there?

Image credit: Flickr, Ornamelle

Yet there’s something about the fall that absolutely transforms me. Perhaps it’s the sweet and spicy chai teas, cozy knits or my favorite equestrian boots that make my heart sing. Whatever the catalyst, I enjoy nothing more than peeling back the August monthly calendar to reveal a bright, crisp September full of promise, leaves and opportunity.

My One Simple Tip on WHEN to Change Your Decor

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This Friday, March 12th, is the official Girl Scout birthday, commemorating the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low registered the organization’s first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.

If you’re like me, you’ve been showing your appreciation by eating as many Thin Mints and Samoas as possible. However, if you’re looking for a more calorie-light way to honor the Girl Scouts, let’s take a look at their classic trefoil symbol and cookie design.



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Hello, my name is Chelsey, and I’m a blogaholic. I read over 200 design blogs regularly and that’s not even counting the fashion, pop culture, cooking and photography ones I visit daily. However, I do have my favorites — the ones I look forward to reading every day and Hooked on Houses is one of them. Julia is a Midwestern gal with a passion for homes and lucky for us, she decided to start sharing her favorites in 2008. Be sure to take a look back through her archives; there are some incredible homes and inspiring decorating ideas.


Ready to get a taste of Hooked on Houses? Check out her top 20 posts here. My favorites are Coco Chanel’s apartment and the Sex in the City real estate (mainly because I can’t stop looking at the closet Big built for Carrie)!

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You may not know Michael Taylor’s name, but you certainly know his style. Taylor, a San-Francisco-based designer, designed homes in the ’70s and ’80s for the Bay Area elite. He’s credited with creating the California Look, that airy, informal-yet-classical design that includes over-sized white sofas, primitive objets d’art and sheepskin rugs.

Rosenkrans smoking room, photo by John Vaughan & Associates

Rosenkrans smoking room, photo by John Vaughan & Associates


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The last time I posted a blog entry I imagined the perfect cozy reading nook – very easy to do. The hard part is sorting through the books you’ve got and storing them. Personally, I find the bargain section at the bookstore irresistible and I accumulate huge piles like snowflakes in winter. So I’ve developed a system. Every six months or so, I go through my shelves and ask three key questions. 1. Did I love this book? 2. Will I read it again? 3. If I have yet to read this book, will I ever? If I answer “no” to any of these, the book goes to charity. has a few great tips about decorating shelves and bookcases at

I also discovered creative, stylish ways to store your favorite tomes. Check this out:

shelves in rafters -

shelves in rafters –

More Cool Shelves »

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One of the blogs I look forward to reading every day is Creature Comforts.

Not only does she provide daily design inspiration for fashion and interiors, but she also has great downloadable freebies to get your creativity flowing. Stop in and take look, I promise you’ll love her blog as much as I do. While you’re there, check out her Etsy store for chic prints.

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Do you need some decorating advice but you aren’t prepared to invest in an interior designer? Do you have a passion for design and want to meet others with similar interests? Would you like to join a vibrant community with lots of personality, encouragement and style? Spend some time on the Message Boards!

Check out some of the topics I found in General Decorating today. Princesssa needs to know how to separate a living room from a dining room. She posted her dilemma and had nearly ten replies in 3 days. In this post, ChrissyH needs suggestions for how to decorate her family room addition. She got help from several people including robbiesmom who used design software to illustrate window treatment options. And I was particularly interested in a thread about a deeply discounted online fabric sale. How does 4.99/yd. sound for drapery and upholstery fabric?

For inspiration re: color (including some heavy duty technical advice), check out our Color Message Board. In this thread KimberlyK gets advice on how to paint her nursery and worthitall seeks help with his home’s exterior. We have several Kitchen and Bath boards, boards on Remodeling, Real Estate, the HGTV Green Home and Gardening, to name a few. And I can’t talk about our message boards without mentioning our Quilting and Needlework community, nearly 60,000 members strong!

If you haven’t checked out our message boards, get registered here. If you do frequent the message boards, tell us about your experience. We want to know what you think.

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After two years of searching all over Manhattan, I bought a home! I’m so tangled in the red tape that I haven’t had time to think about actually LIVING there. It’s an old department store that was converted into a co-op: 800 square feet with 17-foot brick barrel ceilings. The previous owner drywalled  the brick ceilings and walls and painted them an awful red faux finish. There’s an ugly staircase and salmon colored marble on every surface in the kitchen.

I thought living in my new space sans aesthetic improvements would be okay for the time being but now that I’m about to move in, I’ve had a change of heart. So I’ve prioritized: 2 cheap changes with a big impact.

First: The faux finish will be covered in a clean white paint to brighten and modernize the space. My second improvement is will surprise you…I want a swing. It’ll remind me not to take this so seriously. I’ve been consumed by the stress of buying, so the swing serves as a reminder that even though this new home is a huge responsibility, it’s first and foremost, HOME.  So, What kind of swing do I choose?

This swing was on Apartment Therapy:

It reminds me of the swing we had at summer camp overlooking the lake.

How about this one? It reminds me of my backyard swing from my childhood home:

Ahhh, the Bubble Chair. A pricey modern classic. I love how it doesnt block the view:

The wicker hanging chair is a common option. It comes in many shapes and styles:

I love that these chairs look like they were made out of twigs and rope:

Which hanging chair do you think I should go with or are you totally opposed to my hanging chair idea all together?

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Are you a decorating junkie? Do you scour design magazines, books and websites, and watch endless hours of HGTV? Do you look for inspiration online, print how-to instructions and bookmark your favorite rooms and designers? Have you uploaded pictures of your home’s interior to Rate My Space and gotten design advice from all over the world? These are all great ways to gather ideas and learn about the art of decorating, from the basics to the trends.
But, how would you like to get free, hands-on advice at one of your favorite stores without the sales pressure? You can. Pottery Barn is offering a series of free decorating classes at its stores nationwide. The next class, Decorating Your Bedroom, is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 8. Space is limited, so make sure to call your local store, reserve a spot and get the details for your area. Topics for this class include choosing and arrranging furniture, accessorizing and window treatments. If you love setting a beautiful table, check out Hosting a Beautiful Brunch in March. I hope more retail stores will take a cue from Pottery Barn, offer expert advice in a fun class setting and hand out discounts at the end. That’s right; if you attend a class, receive 10 percent off items featured in the class. I hope these newest bedding items are included in this month’s class. They are bold – both in pattern and color.
The Pottery Barn Tea Garden Toile bedding collection is based on a vintage Chinoiserie fabric from the 1920s.

The Garden Toile bedding collection is based on a vintage Chinoiserie fabric from the 1920s. Pottery Barn's version is orange and organic.

Butterflies aren't just for little girls' rooms anymore. This fabulous pillow cover was commissioned by a London fashion house.

Butterflies aren't just for little girls' rooms anymore. This fabulous pillow cover was commissioned by a London fashion house.

If you're looking to add some color to your bedroom, the Ginger Organic duvet cover is a great choice.

If your bedroom could use some color, the Ginger duvet cover is a chic, environmentally-friendly choice.

If you could attend any decorating class of your choice this weekend, what would it be? In other words, what decorating topic do you most want or need to learn about? And finally, if you could choose any HGTV designer to teach the class, who would it be and why?
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The first Broadway play I ever saw was Proof by David Auburn (it was later turned into a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal). Admittedly I loved the stage play more than the movie not just because of the way the play unfolded but because all the action took place on a back porch.

Don’t you just love the idea of a porch – sitting outside watching the world go by with the perfect snack and beverage on hand? Waving to those who pass by while swaying on a swing or a rocking chair? Okay maybe my imagination is getting away from me since this is the time of year when I forget what it’s like to be warm and start wondering if summer will ever return (happily it always does).

When that happens I think of porches and one of my favorite places to start is the book On the Porch: Creating Your Place to Watch the World Go By written by James M. Crisp and Sandra L. Mahoney. The photos are gorgeous, the descriptions interesting and the idea divine. I really do love a porch.

There are some amazing examples of porches straight from my dreams on Rate My Space.

My porch essentials include a comfy chair (perfect for naps), a rocking chair or a swing and a table big enough to hold snacks and drinks. What are your porch essentials?

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Tomorrow begins a new era in American history as Barack Obama is inaugurated as our 44th president. One of Michelle Obama’s priorities has been to make sure her family feels comfortable in their new home, The White House. It’s not unusual for incoming First Ladies to make changes in the more than 200-year-old residence. Take a look inside the 1961 White House in this tour with Jacqueline Kennedy. Mrs. Kennedy explains how she worked with a committee to make interior design choices. The Obamas chose California native  Michael S. Smith  whose style has been characterized as “a delicate blend of European tradition and American modernism.” The First Family will be in good company. Smith has designed spaces for Cindy Crawford, Steven Spielberg and many other notables. Smith’s first task: the daughters’ bedrooms.  I hope we get to see a little of Smith’s work and how he spent his $100,000 budget, courtesy of Congress.  

All this talk of White House renovation begs the question: what would HGTV designers do in the Obama’s new residence if they had the opportunity? Just like Barack Obama, Kim Myles was chosen as the best among her peers. As an HGTV Design Star and now host of Myles of Style, Kim continues to prove that she is a winning designer. Her take on The Lincoln Bedroom is another example of why Mrs. Myles won the popular vote.

Kim Myles' concept: The Lincoln Bedroom - Back to Basics

“The current Lincoln Bedroom hides its most famous feature — the bed — behind layers of fussy fabric, busy prints and stodgy color,” Kim says. “I’ve chosen to bring  the room back to basics and combined classic and contemporary elements.”

Taniya Nayak  is one of HGTV’s Designed to Sell‘s talented designers who knows how to stretch a buck. By the look of this sketch, however, it is obvious that Taniya had a little fun and went beyond her usual $2000 budget for the show. This Green Room is opulent but also environmentally-friendly.


Taniya Nayak's concept: The Green Room - Literally

Taniya Nayak's concept: The Green Room - Literally



“The stone, fabrics and flooring are all made from green products,” Taniya says. ”Sustainable living is a way of life now, and what better place to implement that than in the Green Room of the White House.” If the Obamas want to improve their digs without breaking the bank, they couldn’t go wrong with Taniya or Design on a Dime‘s Frank Fontana.

Frank Fontana‘s interpretation of The Red Room is red hot! Every President needs a little zebra print in his life.

Frank Fontana's concept: The Red Room - Colonial Funk

 “My concept for this design is something I like to call ‘Colonial Funk.’ It comes from the fusion of vintage colonial architecture and hip modern day decor,” Frank says. “A similar parallel to the Obamas themselves, as they must fuse their youthful and vibrant energy into a vintage and historic home.” I particularly like Frank’s attention to detail in the sketch. Look closely and see Obama family pictures on the walls. Nice touch.


How do you think Frank, Taniya and Kim did with their Presidential concepts? Any decorating advice you’d offer to the Obamas?

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We all know that old cliche: new year, new you!

Every time January 1 rolls around, I’m inspired to rethink my ways. Sometimes that might just be to eat healthier (and give away that stockpile of holiday sweets asap) or get a snazzy new haircut. Other years, it’s a total overhaul of my home space. Usually, I clean out my closet (and donate or giveaway the unwanted stuff), refresh my slipcovers, change the bedding, bring out different dishes, and maybe throw some new paint on a wall or two. Nothing like an update to your surrounds to punctuate that fresh-start feeling.

We at HGTV are lucky enough to have a long holiday weekend, and I plan to take advantage of the time to do a little housecleaning and New Year rethinking. To get prepped — and inspired — I’ve been looking around for ideas and tips from a few of my usual home and design sources. But first, I realized, I’ve got to get control of the clutter, which only doubles after the holidays (thanks to new gifts and just general rearranging for the seasonal decorations).

Here are a few good sources I’ve found:

Clear the Clutter, Live Stress Free
The first, best step for sprucing up is to ditch the clutter. After all, you don’t see any of those fab makeover rooms on HGTV overrun with trinkets, old magazines or, well, much of anything that doesn’t serve an immediate design or practical use. This article has a few quick — and eco-friendly — first steps to take.

Clever Organizers
I’m a sucker for creative reuse — so when I saw this HGTV gallery spotlighting a few simple ways to transform aluminum cans into simple (and often decorative) organizers, I was thrilled. The kitchen utensil holders are delightful.

Declutter Your Life
The eco-pros over at Natural Home Magazine also have this lengthier piece, filled with tips for how to reuses your existing space creatively (because, really, who has the money for a total remodel these days?). There are suggestions for rethinking furniture positioning and understanding how your rooms relate together in a holistic (and whole-istic) way.

Mission Organization
And maybe I won’t be going whole hog like the folks on this show, but I still love to watch the video clips just to see how others have tackled their biggest problem spots (e.g. overrun countertops, managing multipurpose rooms). You can see the next episode on HGTV on January 5 at 9am ET.

For more visual inspiration, check out this gallery of stylishly organized spaces.

What’s on your home resolution list for 2009?

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  • As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper

  • As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper

  • As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper

  • As seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper