The following is a list of my top 10 favorite design basics, and the pieces I just can’t design without. You’re pretty much guaranteed to find them on every truck headed for an Alane Beard Design install. Try a couple of these tips yourself!
An interior is the natural projection of the soul
Design Tips 1-10
Colorful, over-stuffed decorative pillows in mix-matched patterns
I am a huge fan of way too many fluffy, colorful pillows, the more the better! Rarely do I use two of the same pillows on the same sofa. Mixing patterns, textures and styles is my favorite way to add visual interest to my designs. And FLUFFY is the only option for me —-> Down inserts, or Down alternative if you’re allergic. See my super secret tip (above). Here’s a link to a great pair from Amazon.
DM me on Insta for great sources on inexpensive pillow covers
Trays of all types, for everything
Trays are useful everywhere. I generally use them in every design I do – in living rooms, for bar carts, on coffee tables, on bathroom counters, on shelves, on kitchen islands, anywhere I want to group items. And the options are endless on colors, styles, materials, sizes, shapes. Here is the link to one of my favorite acrylic go-to trays. It is very affordable and fits any decor.
Basically, if you can dream it, they make it. Trays can even make a decorative statement all their own. Check this one out from a favorite quirky local store in here in Dallas:
Love this cute tray too!
High Impact Design Tip: Wowzer “Jewelry” Lighting
Lighting, oh sweet, sweet lighting. How I love you so! If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest, you already know I am #obsessedwithlighting Seriously, I think I have some sort of problem. But oh well, we all gotta have a vice, right? Lighting is house JEWELRY to me so I require it to be over the top! This is such a chance to go big, or vintage, or funky, or colorful, or just wonderful. Design tip: Whatever you do, DO NOT HOLD BACK! Please, please go for it with lighting!! This is such an easy way to make a HUGE statement with little risk. If you hate it, just take it down and try again. I have so, so, so many favorites in this area, but I like to support local artists, so I’ll share a current fave (they’re sorta local to TX):
Smitten with these custom lights!
Funny, not-really-related, story
Each time I see these bamboo fixtures I am reminded of a funny adventure with my design partner. As I mention in my ‘About’ page, I did a really obscure TV design show a couple years back – one hit wonder and all that. Anyway, the show was short on both time and budget. So after working full time at our day jobs, my design partner, Terica, and I would then work late into the night on the TV show. The show was based out of Canada (we’re in Texas) so every detail of preparing for the show – and I mean EVERYTHING – fell on us. This went on for a couple of months while the show was filmed.
Our most ridiculous task was picking up the GIANT truck and hauling furniture all over the DFW metroplex! And no, neither of us had any IDEA how to drive the giant truck before the show!! Then we had to park the truck in a SKETCHY part of Dallas every night because the show coordinators knew nothing about Dallas when they arranged it. We were delirious each night by the time we arrived at the scary truck lot. Terrifying! #funnynowlookingback #weprobablyalmostdied
But out of small budget necessity and high impact desire, I found these fixtures at IKEA and hung them together. They turned out great!
The overarching design tip here:
Little budgets call for big ideas!!!
The famous IKEA pendant. Buy it here
Quirky, funny, unique items
Conversation starters are a must in every interior. Just one. Come on. You know you giggled or scratched your head just a little at one of these items. I absolutely, with all my heart, believe everyone should have a home unlike all their neighbors so YOUR personality is reflected as soon as anyone steps inside. And here’s a great design tip for you. This is a good opportunity for a junk store find, a treasured gift from your crazy aunt, or something else unexpected that reveals your personality.
Etsy is a favorite source for virtual junkin’.
A Vintage Piece or Two
Mixing old and new, pieces collected in your travels, inherited pieces, pieces that don’t match, but that are curated and coordinated are what give a space character and charm. My best advice here is never feel obligated to “match” anything, In my designs I just make sure a room feels cohesive overall in color and mood. (More on this in #10). One of my personal obsessions is Depression Era blue glass so I use it often in installations for displaying live flowers. I usually find a way to throw in a vintage piece even to my most modern installations. We’re really lucky here in Dallas to have some AWESOME dealers who specialize in the eras I love so I always find stuff I adore.
Something vintage just for fun. Check it out for a giggle.
Live Flowers, always
Tulips, Peonies, Ranunculus, Hydrangea, Irises, Lillies, I love you all!! I don’t know if there is anything more therapeutic to me than cutting and arranging fresh flowers. If I could afford it, I would have them brought in every day. Sigh…OK back to reality. I can’t, so I will instead include them in each and every install I do as my gift to clients on install day. And I will encourage you to please, please splurge and buy yourself fresh flowers at least once a quarter, just for being awesome. You deserve it!
Here’s one of my favorite Dallas florists, available for shipping throughout the U. S. at that link. So girl, buy yourself some flowers!
Something organic, shape or material
Natural elements, stone, rattan, wood, feathers, woven fibers help ground a room and add texture. I usually add at least one organic feature to every room design, whether it be an organic material or an organic shape. I am really drawn to grasscloth and natural wall coverings for this reason. There are so many amazing options available now and I encourage you to consider them as a way to add an organic element.
Check out this stunning grasscloth wallpaper
Original art [only]
Art makes it better
Perhaps it’s because my son is an artist, like a legit one. He went to college for it, has a professional artist job, and gets paid for it and everything. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve always been a bit of an artist myself. Or maybe it’s just because I love art so much and want to support artists of all types to keep producing art. Whatever my main motivation, I always, always incorporate original art into every room design. This subject is just near and dear to my heart. When I worked with Dwell with Dignity, we only installed original art in client projects.
There’s a lot of science behind art and wellness, and we’ll definitely visit that in a later blog post, but for now, one of my most important basic design tips involves art. Original art will always be on the truck headed for my installs. And I absolutely encourage you to BUY ORIGINAL ART TOO! It doesn’t have to be expensive. Etsy has great options at reasonable prices in every genre. Check them out! But here’s my current art obsession:
Really soft, high thread count sheets
This is where one of my science-y things comes into play and I talk about evidence based practice. Assuming you get the very essential 8 hours of sleep humans need per night and have average life expectancy, you’ll sleep for just under 230,000 hours, or ONE THIRD of your life.
Self care advice
People, this needs to be quality time on good sheets! Good sleep is vital to good outcomes in every aspect of your life. Let’s make this part count! Please listen to this design advice and splurge on the soft sheets! Your duvet can come from IKEA, I’m OK with that, but your sheets have to be primo. I always use great ones on my clients’ beds! I use trade-only vendors as my go-to sources, but there are great online sources at reasonable prices (See picture tip, above).
On a semi-related note, make your bed each morning. Trust me, this simple act is good for you. Read the book on this topic:
Splurge on these fabulous sheets if you can!
Read this book
Color. And color. And a little more color.
Ihave an ongoing love affair with color and I play no favorites. Bright and bold, pastel, analogous, complementary, triadic, warm, cool. I love them all! I create a mood board for every client and every room in my own house, for that matter, before I every start actually designing the room so I can get the FEEL of where I’m going with the room. As I mentioned in #5 above, creating this overall vision of the space in advance is how I make sure it feels like a cohesive whole without having to “match”. Very often, clients come to me and can only do one room at a time due to budget constraints. So we make a design roadmap for their whole house plan to do in stages.
Design Tip 1 – Start here
Mood boards are how I start that process. This also helps clients when they have individual pieces they love, but don’t know how to make it all work together. I hear this A LOT! A lot LOT! It’s probably the #1 thing I hear from clients actually. So here’s the magic STEP ONE SECRET design tip: color mood board. Shhhh! I’m going put myself out of business if you tell. Ha ha. Regardless, you have to know, because #colorishappiness
Keep #LIVINGTHISLIFE! Don’t hold back! Don’t save the good china for a special occasion. TODAY is that special occasion! Be well, my peeps.
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