Design Dilemmas SOLVED: The Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions! - DezignSpace

Design Dilemmas SOLVED: The Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions!

As an interior designer, there is one thing I’ve never been short of and that’s questions! I get thousands of questions from you all, and just like my private clients, many of them are similar design dilemmas. I’ve answered the top ten most commonly asked questions in juicy detail, so get those notebooks ready! 📔 


Question 1

“How do I build a room from scratch? Is there one piece I should buy and then build around it?” 

This is such a great question. When you’re starting with an empty room, you want to select your largest sitting element first, whether that’s a sofa, sectional, or a pair of sofas. 🛋️ Either way, you’re going to make that choice first because there will be limitations to work around; plus, there’s a statement you’ll make with that piece that will inform all the other details in the room. 

Inspo is one thing; an action plan is another. If you’re starting a project, whether it’s big or small, this is a MUST read: (Look)book Before You Leap: How to Use Pinterest to Get EXACTLY the Design You Want


Question 2

“How do I deal with baseboard heaters under my windows?” 

This is another great question that I’ve been asked hundreds of times, literally. Here’s the deal with this- you just have to let go of the idea of drapery in a condition like that.

You need to look at other window treatment options, like roller shades, which come in all kinds of lovely flavors- everything from super simple and contemporary to a textured woven grass look.

They’re great-looking, and you can also get them done with valances, which are fantastic. You can never go wrong with Roman shades; they’re beautiful, and you can pick any fabric you want with them. Plus, they stack up in all different ways.

Shutters are an option, as well as Venetian blinds. The real key is to select a window treatment that doesn’t drop below the window’s sill because that is the danger zone. 

For a deep dive into all things drapery, check out Drama-free Drapery: Your Detailed Guide to Understanding Window Design Basics.

I also think you’ll LOVE this quiz: What Window Treatment Design Style Are You?


Question 3

“I love kitchen cabinets all the way up to the ceiling, but what do we do if we have a high-angled ceiling?” 

Oh, so often, kitchens have ceilings that are either peaked or angled in some way, and you want to try and keep your cabinets up as high as possible.

The answer is to take them to the “plate line,” which is actually where the vertical wall stops and the ceiling begins; it doesn’t matter whether it’s flat or angled. You’re going to take your cabinets to that top point.


Pro tip: Run an LED strip along the top of those cabinets to give a little bit of a light bounce, especially if your ceiling is angled, textured, or it’s got some sort of feature element to it, like beams or tongue and groove.

You want to emphasize that space; plus, it gives the cabinets a little bit of grace and makes the room feel taller. Great question! 

If you want all the design deets on kitchen cabinetry, don’t miss our ebook Kitchen Cabinetry (Not So) Confidential in the Library!



Question 4

“I have a modern home and am looking for outdoor sconces that are affordable. Where can I find budget-friendly options?”

If you’re in the US, I have three suggestions for you. The first one is Ylighting, the second is, and the third is Lamps Plus. What’s great is that these are broad websites with many different brands, so you can choose between different price points and different looks- there are lots of options there. 

Lighting is complicated, but the DezignSpace has your back! Check out Get the Glow Down: The 3 Types of Lighting Your Home Must Have


Question 5

“Do you have any recommendations on where to look for interesting range hoods?” 

Oh, I love a gorgeous range hood! Here’s the deal- you can buy regular vented hood pieces that come from most of the range manufacturers like Viking, etc., as they will make hoods that accompany their pieces, right? They’re exposed stainless, and some of them have great-looking contemporary shapes. However, if you’re looking for something custom, you’re going to have to get a prefabricated vent and clad it. To make that happen, you’re going to have to speak with your general contractor. He should be able to hook you up with somebody who can do precisely what you want; just be sure and show them a picture.

If you’re in the market for a range hood or any other kitchen appliance, be sure to take a peek at our Kitchen Appliances Guide in the Library.


Question 6

“What uplights do you recommend for highlighting a plant or illuminating a darker corner in a room?” 

I love getting asked this question. Here’s my go-to unit: It’s small, four to six inches high, with an MR16 bulb on an adjustable flat base.

You simply plug it in behind a plant, behind a chair, etc. It’s really easy to adjust, so it can be an uplight for artwork as well.

You can get them at Home Depot here!

Did you know that the bulbs you choose matter just as much as the lighting fixture? Learn more: A Better Bulb: The 3 Colors of Light and Why They Matter.





Question 7

“Where would you display art in a tiny space?” 

Let me start by explaining where it’s most appropriate for art to go: there are two zones in a house, whether it’s a tiny apartment or 6,000 square feet. There are public areas that include spaces like living rooms, dining rooms, etc. Then there are the private spaces, like bedrooms, bathrooms, dens, and private offices. There’s a dividing line, and my opinion is that you should keep more of your personal imagery, like maybe your wedding photos or a portrait of yourself, in those private spaces. Your public areas are better suited as a visually neutral space. You can still have art you love, just not something super intimate or private.

In case you didn’t know…the  Library has a fantastic little ebook all about Gallery Wall Layouts– don’t miss it!


Question 8

“I have an open concept room; should I do separate and different rugs for each zone (TV zone, dining area, reading area)?” 

I’m going to solve this rug question right here and now because it’s a good one, and I get it a lot. You want to put a large rug underneath your main seating area and allow the dining and the other areas to just be on the hard surface flooring. If you do more than one, it starts to look cluttered and will make the room feel smaller, so you’re sort of defeating the purpose of having a great room in the first place. Get one really fabulous rug, and you are done. 🤩

When it comes to rugs, SIZE MATTERS. Do yourself a solid and read this: How to Size Your Area Rugs in the Library.


Question 9

“Why is flat paint best for walls? I want to use something that is easy to clean in high-traffic areas.” 

I love answering questions about paint. Flat paint makes colors appear richer, and it hides a myriad of texture problems, so if you have orange peel walls or something that isn’t perfectly smooth, flat paint is a godsend. However, flat paint is the least cleanable, so you really want to reserve it for spaces that have less traffic, like your bedrooms, formal living, and dining areas. Now, in a more high-traffic area, or if you have kids and pets, the next step up will be a finish called ‘pearl.’ Some vendors go straight to eggshell, but either way, just pop it up one sheen level from flat and make sure the color rendition is still the same in that sheen.

Is a DIY paint project in your future? Then you definitely don’t want to miss How to DIY Your Best Paint Job Ever!

Do you need help with picking the perfect palette? Lucky you! 🍀 Just head on over to The Library and check out How to Pick Paint Colors.


Question 10

“Are accent walls totally dated?”

Not at all! You just need to do it right! I love a good accent wall; whether it’s a bold splash of color or a gorgeous textured wallpaper- I’m here for it! It’s essential to carefully choose which wall to use as an accent- it needs to be one without any doorways or windows. A great option is usually the wall behind your bed or behind the sofa.

Well, that wraps up Part 1 of our Design Dilemmas series! Do you have a burning design question you’d like answered? Post in the Clubhouse or ask in Clubchat

Are you in a shopping mood? I think you deserve a little somethin somethin! 😉 Go make it rain in the DezignClub Store!

6 thoughts on this post

  1. Definitely agree with Mimi. Please do a series on furniture arranging for lots of situations. For example, fireplace and credenza with big TV above—how to arrange the furniture when your pieces can’t face the fireplace, which is the ‘traditional’ way but you’re trying to arrange to watch the dang TV!  I’m sure there are many situations like that you could address and help us solve this design issue.

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