How To---

Another Must-Have To Make Your Office Run Smoothly!

Meet Sheila Rennart of Quick Bookkeeping, Inc., (click on her business name back there to get the link) here in Raleigh.  Of course I've been keeping my accounts straight throughout the years, but it has taken a LOT of time to do that--because knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide isn't the same as accounting.  If you're running a business, this is another one of those things you need to hand over to an expert.  Sheila LOVES accounting (thank you, God, for making all kinds of people)!  AND she taught Karen and I how to use the accounting software.  She is our hero.

Do you think you can't afford a bookkeeper?  The truth is that you can't afford not to hire a bookeeper.  She saves you money.  Go figure.  I won't share Karen (my Business Manager, talked about here), but I can share Sheila!



How To Make Your Office Run Smoothly

If you have a busy, hectic, slightly chaotic office environment, I have a cure for you:



Hire Karen.  No, wait, that's not what I mean!  Hire a person like Karen.  You can't have Karen, she's the new Business Manager at DeCocco Design! She appears to LIKE running a business--I've heard about people like that.  My office has become an oasis of calm.   I'm not sure I remembered what color the top of my desk was and now it's clear and orderly.  Records and resources are where they should be.  There are processes and forms, invoices and reports.  

I can focus on interior design.   Thank you God, for Karen!




Why Hire An Interior Designer?



Every time I finish one of my two hour design consultations, I'm sure of 2 things; lots of ideas have been shared AND I've saved these clients at least the amount of my fee.  Worth saying again--at least that amount.

I wish I could trumpet that on the Home page of my website ("call today--it's like a free consultation!"), but it seems kind of tacky.  Plus, the clients and I are only together for a short amount of time, and I don't always know how things are looking 2 or 3 months later. 

Lately though, I've been sending past clients "how's it going?" emails and the feedback has been wonderful. Sometimes they even send me pictures! Those two hours with a designer (moi) made a BIG difference in the outcome of their projects.

In this post, I'm going to share what I'm hearing about the value of working with an interior designer, using the words of clients.  It's not just working with me--I'll bet most design pros hear the same things.

#1 Why hire an interior designer?  "We stopped disagreeing."

What I really hear is "we stopped fighting about how to decorate our home." The days of one partner being much more involved in the design and decor decisions are dwindling.  Everyone seems more interested in the process, has ideas and wants to be heard - and it works out well!


#2 Why hire an interior designer? "We saved so much time because you told us what would work and where to get it!"

DIY home decor projects tend to drag on or never get finished because there are too many choices out there and not all of them are very good.  It's overwhelming, especially when you don't have a lot of time on your hands.   After a consultation,  I send a customized Resource List that often shows specific products and where to get it. I also share contact info about my painter, tile installer, cabinet store, etc.  Clients are excited to have this info in their hands and are able to  schedule and place orders.  Before they know it, the room is done and looking better than they imagined!  


#3 Why hire an interior designer?  "We stopped making mistakes and saved money!"

We all make  decor mistakes.  I'll show you one of mine:


It made a cute photo, but there were a lot of problems with this chair that made it a mistake:  

  • I don't really like sitting in armless chairs.
  • Nine year old Grandboy and his pals were wildly attracted to this chair with it's white background that could not easily be cleaned.  So I would yell "get away from that chair!" at small children.  Real nice.  I have NEVER owned a piece of furniture that couldn't be used by everyone, so this was really cramping my style.
  • Really, those two are enough reasons to get rid of that chair. I sold it on Move Loot, for very little money, of course. 

There's no shame in making mistakes.  The shame, to me, is holding onto them and trying to design the rest of the room around them.  Letting go of mistakes makes room for some much, MUCH better choices.  Better results. Relief. It's all good.

We all know that mistakes cost money.  And time is money.  And life is short. Hold on while I look up some more of these gems.    


Here's the best one:  "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."  Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.



#4 Why hire an interior designer?  "You had so many great ideas that we never would have considered!"

Many times I've said something very general during a consultation, like "you could paint that wall green" and the client response has been, "Green?  Oh my gosh! That's a great idea!  I love it!  I've never thought of that!"  

I know--you've looked at that builder-beige wall every day for 5 years. You're so afraid of painting it the "wrong" color--even though it's a color you happen to love (like, maybe, green)--so the beige stays.  I'll see clues about what you like.  And, well, I just have ideas.   I'm going to come up with a boatload of them to make your rooms special and the first one out of my mouth, the easiest and cheapest idea of them all might be to paint that wall a color that you love.  Go figure.

A green wall, fabulous lighting, creative use of everyday materials, furnishings that are comfortable AND good looking, sources for really special stuff--any good designer can give you this kind of information.  It's what we do. 



When it's all done, you're going to walk into that room and smile. You're smiling because you stopped fighting, saved time, saved money, implemented great ideas and got it done.  That's why you should hire an interior designer.




How To Decorate With Pets -3 Great Tips


So many clients ask me how to decorate with pets in mind.  They love those furry family members, but not saggy sofas,  picked apart rugs or stains on their upholstery fabrics.  Let me share 3 tips that make it work:


How To Decorate With Pets, Tip #1

Polyester is a synthetic fiber and your new best friend when it comes to upholstery fabrics.  Steer clear of cotton fibers.  Cotton loves to absorb, and that includes cotton blends and linen.  Does the word "absorb" sound like a good thing in this case?  No, it does not.  Rayon has cotton qualities, so add that to the no can do list.  "All weather" fabrics are almost always great choices (notice I said "almost" - I'm saving that for another blog post).  Choose synthetic fabrics that feel good, don't snag easily and have some color, pattern or texture to them.  Know that white/cream/beige/almond choices are going to show pet wear and tear--I don't care what the fabric is made of.

Side note on seating:  large dogs should never sit on sofas or chairs.  Their weight wears down the inner construction.  If you insist that they do, subtract several years from the life expectancy of the seating.


How To Decorate With Pets, Tip #2

Notice those zippers on cushion covers.  That means you can unzip, take the insert out and wash that cover right in your washing machine.  I do it all the time. Pay attention when drying - don't run it on high and check it's progress every 15 minutes or so.  If you have a messy pet,  buy the stain protection plan the store offers OR hire an outside company to provide that service for you.

Side note on stain service providers: DO NOT buy that service if you're not going to call them when a stain happens.  You wouldn't believe how many people do that!


How To Decorate With Pets, Tip #3

Use accent rugs.  Yes, that's right where they're going to have an accident, but pets don't like to walk on slick floors all the time and rugs add so much to any room.  Avoid hooked rugs--the ones with all those little loops.  Pet nails get stuck in them and it's much harder to clean up those accidents when they're on hooked rugs.  I favor wool rugs, but if you can find an indoor/outdoor carpet that really feels nice, go for it. Again, I warn you to steer clear of cotton content.  Jute or sisal may be tres chic in the shelter mags, but it's just gross with pets. I've got a lovely wool Kilim rug in the Living Room and it's been barfed on many times (TMI?  Sorry.) and still looks great. Wool is a wonder, and a busy pattern doesn't hurt either!

Side note on stained rugs: if you own a pet, own a carpet cleaner.  You will love both.


Here's our girl, Raven, standing on the much-barfed on rug.  I place a high priority on the safety and comfort of family pets, but you can have beautiful furnishings as well.

Would you like some help creating a beautiful home that you and your pets can enjoy together?  It's not hard.  Call me today and let's get it done!



How To Decorate With Vintage

How to decorate with vintage

Many people would love to decorate with vintage furniture, but they just aren't sure about the end result.  Will it look ratty and dated or unique and inspiring?  I love to haunt consignment shops for special vintage pieces to create awesome spaces and have to say that decorating with vintage can sometimes be easier than with new stuff.  Let me show you how to do it.

How to decorate with vintage: Tip #1 - start with the big piece.

In a Family Room or Living Room, that would be the sofa. Here's a great choice:

how to decorate with vintage

You could use a vintage sofa, but they're hard to find.  This blue color works so well with vintage pieces and the neutral style is extremely versatile.

How to decorate with vintage: Tip #2 - select vintage pieces that you love...

even if you're afraid they're weird or funky.  Be brave dear heart.

How to decorate with vintage furniture

I found these mushroom footstools and rug at a local consignment shop and fell in love.  They are weird, funky and stopped me in my tracks--all signs pointing to the right purchase!  Thrift and consignment are great sources for vintage furnishings.  Stop by often to scoop up the good stuff.

How to decorate with vintage, Tip #3 - don't overwhelm.

With a colorful sofa, those fab footstools and the rug, you now can easily fill in with an end table, lamp and colorful chair.   But I have a little saying to share with you:

DeCocco Design, interior design services

Not everyone will agree, but I feel that a room full of fabulosity can get loud and visually messy real quick.  I want special things to stand out, and for the room to have an easy vibe.  That's my signature style as a designer - ease, as in comfortable.  YOU are the rock star in your room, not the stuff.  You sparkle more brightly when surrounded by things you love, but ALL the things you love don't need to be packed into every room.  Let's spread them out.

how to decorate with vintage

Above is a concept board I made to show you everything pulled together.  The sofa is from Klaussner's, the end table and lamp from West Elm and the leather chair from Arhaus. The centerpiece of the room is those mushroom footstools and the groovy rug, found at a local consignment shop.

Do you need some help pulling together a room?  Call me for a 2 hour design consultation today and I'll show you how to decorate with vintage furniture in your own home!




Bedrooms: 4 Ideas Your Kids Will Love!

Bedrooms, 4 ideas your kids will love
Bedrooms, 4 ideas your kids will love

Kids love their bedrooms.  They can escape from the world of grown-ups and hunker down with their "stuff."  Give them an awesome space that they'll love spending time in and won't grow out of quickly.  Here are 4 great bedroom ideas that your kids will love!

Great Bedroom Idea For Kids #1

Always my favorite: a chalk board wall - it can be the entire wall, a part of a wall or a flat, hollow core lauan door.   We put the chalk board on a small wall in this playroom and had the carpenter frame it out so it looked finished.

Tip - read the ingredients on the box of chalk.  Don't buy chalk that has wax in it (lots of the bright colors contain wax).  Wax sticks to the chalkboard--like forever.   Look for plain ol' chalk.

Great Bedroom Idea For Kids #2



Pick a great color for the walls--if they're old enough, let them choose.   9 times out of 10 they're going to choose colors that are brighter than you would choose.  Let kids be kids. Their bedrooms do not need to be younger versions of yours.  Paint the ceiling another color, in a pale hue.  Really.  Kids don't need white ceilings.

Tip - if your ceilings are smooth, use a satin or semi-gloss finish instead of the usual flat.  It gives a soft glow and looks great.

Great Bedroom Idea For Kids #3

A second bed.  Kids do not usually need big beds, but they do need to have plenty of sleepovers.  A bunk-bed,  trundle or 2 twin beds will do the trick and will make YOUR life easier when company comes.  If space is tight, push one of the twins against the wall and prop lots of pillows across the back--now you're all set for pillow fights too!  If you can fit a comfy chair in the room as well, please do.  Glider/rockers are my personal choice.  They're loved by everyone from sleepy babies to angry teenagers.

Tip - use fluffy pillows on both beds and replace them when they get flat or lumpy.  They don't need to be expensive.  And put the pillows inside zippered pillow covers and then in cotton pillow cases.  Let's keep those old school--and hygenic--touches alive.

Great Bedroom Idea For Kids #4

Curtains.  My experiences in all kinds of homes has been that kids love to have curtains.  I know, it's a little surprising.  If they can close them, the bonus is "atmosphere" (how better to see those glow sticks, stars on the ceiling or black light posters?) and it makes the room feel special.

Tip -  Hang them high and get them wide enough to shut over the window. You might need 2 panels on each side if you buy ready-made.  Buy decent rods that won't bend over time.

A big Thank You to my friend, designer Sara Veety of Clover Hill Interiors, for letting me use her photo of those super cute twin beds in a room of her design!

Do you want more ideas to decorate your angel's bedroom?  I can map it out for you in a 2 hour interior design consultation if you live in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area here in North Carolina.  Call me today!