Tips for Buying Furniture

January 4, 2017 | Melinda Miles

There are sofas and chairs with pillows in the modern living room including a creative wooden table with ornaments items on it. Long cupboard or TV stand with a vases close to the white wall the wide LCD or LED TV on the cupboards

Today’s trend of over-sized furniture confuses a lot of shoppers because you are seeing the furniture in a huge showroom with high ceilings. The furniture looks normal in scale due to its surroundings, but when you get it home, it will look completely wrong with a normal scale house. It is critical to know what size furniture will fit best in your home.

Before you go shopping measure your room, then draw it out on paper. It doesn’t have to be artistic. Make it a rough sketch, but make it accurate, and write the dimensions on it, including the size of your doors, windows, etc., and the height of your ceiling. It is surprising what this exercise will reveal, and what you will learn about your space. Take photos of your room for reference. Take your drawings and your photos with you when you shop, as well as your tape measure, a sample of your paint color, and swatches of fabrics that need to coordinate. At the store, get dimension info or measure everything that you are considering. Draw it into your sketch. Make sure it fits.

If you’re still not sure, make notes, take photos of your selections, and go back home to take another look. Use masking tape on the floor to mark off where the furniture will be placed. Does the piece fit in the space? Can you get it through your doorways and halls that lead into the room? Can you walk around it? You need to allow about a 32”-36” aisle between furniture pieces or groupings for passage through the room, but you only need about 14”-18” of space between the sofa and the coffee table for easy reaching. Is the furniture placement comfortable or awkward? Does it suit the function of the room? Careful planning and doing your homework will prevent costly mistakes.

Money Saving Tip – Kitchen Remodel

January 4, 2017 | Melinda Miles

Keep appliances, plumbing fixtures, and lighting in the same location if it works with the new design. Moving water, gas, and electrical connections can be a big added cost to an update, that doesn’t add visible value to the project.


For this ranch kitchen update, keeping the location of the sink, dishwasher, cooktop, and ovens in the same place, allowed the customer to put all of their budget into new finishes and save a lot of money. The existing oven and microwave connections were located on the backside of the adjacent family room fireplace surround, and would be even more expensive to move. Instead, the layout of the kitchen stayed the same, with all new cabinets and appliances installed in the original locations. The old brick surround was replaced with Austin stone.  A custom copper vent hood and hand-painted tile backsplash finished the look of the new cooktop. New wood floors, paint, and light fixtures completed the transformation.


4 Finishes to Shop First!

January 4, 2017 | Melinda Miles

detail of a modern bathroom with tub and sink

Selecting four key finishes before the plans are finalized can save you money on your home construction project. These four finishes—plumbing, appliances, lighting and cabinets—are the culprits that cause the most change orders and design revisions for projects. Typically, builders send clients to showrooms to make these selections only after the plans are drawn, the budget is finalized, and the contract is signed.  The floorplan and project budget are determined using a general idea of the type of finish-out the client desires without knowing the specifics of these selection details. Flooring and countertops may be discussed, but not faucets and pendants. The client begins shopping for these selections only after the contract is signed and construction begins.

There are two problems with this sequence:

First, shopping at showrooms and making actual selections is an eye-opening experience where you see new products, ideas, possibilities. That’s the fun of doing a home building project. You may find things you didn’t know existed or realize you wanted when you discussed the original plans for your home.

Second, you make selections based on what you like and your budget. Without construction experience, you can’t realize when your selection could cause a change to the floor plan or mechanical systems and increase the cost of building the home. Because of the added cost, the builder regards this as a change order, where you see it simply as a selection choice. This is where many clients get frustrated with their builder and distrustful of the home building industry.

Here are just a few examples of the problems that can arise from selection changes.

Plumbing changes:

  • Added pot fillers – need water line run to the stove area
  • Luxury shower systems and handheld sprayers – require additional plumbing or larger supplies
  • Free-standing tub – may change supply and drain locations

Lighting changes:

  • Large fixtures – oversized chandeliers and ceiling fans require extra bracing
  • Low voltage fixtures – track lighting requires adding a transformer and changes wiring
  • Decorative fixtures – going from three mini-pendants to two larger pendants

Appliance changes:

  • Gas range from electric cooktop – adds a gas line
  • Cooktop moved to the island – added connections and changes the vent location
  • Icemaker – some models require a drain

Cabinet changes:

  • Furniture-style vanity – needs to be onsite for plumbing rough connections to fit
  • Open vanity – exposed plumbing needs to be raised
  • Display cabinets – glass fronts and shelves can require accent lighting

Shopping for these selections before your floor plans are complete will improve the whole building experience for you. These details allow the design of your project to be accurate and give the builder the information he needs to keep your project on time and on budget.

A Great Trick with Tile

January 4, 2017 | Melinda Miles


If you want to capture the look of this gorgeous bathroom by Dallas Design Group Interiors, don’t overlook one of the most important elements–the tile on the walls. Applying tile part-way up to chair rail height, like wainscot paneling, is an affordable way to add the look of an expensive upgrade.

Linear bathrooms are a great place for this treatment. They can look unbalanced when all of the fixtures and elements are lined up along one wall and the opposite side is simply a blank sheetrock wall. The tile adds architecture, three-dimensional depth, and expands the look of the room. Adding tile wainscot to this one wall can often cost less than $100, but makes it look like you spent thousands more.

The height for this treatment is usually between 32” and 42” from the finished floor, depending on the size of your tile, the height of your ceilings, and other design details. Try to use whole tiles as you go up the wall with trim pieces as the top row, like a bullnose or chair rail to give a finished look. For example, if you are using 8 x 12 tile, you could do 4 rows of tile and finish at 32” high from the floor plus the width of your trim. If you are using 12 x 24 tile, you could do 3 rows of tile finishing at 36” plus trim from the floor.


If you are doing some sort of linear border or listel design in your shower or tub area, consider running your tile design along the vanity as your back splash instead of the usual 4” countertop back splash. Continue that tile all around the room at the same height. The height of your vanity plus the width of your design will determine the finished height of your tile on the walls. It will start at the vanity and run horizontally around the room, connecting the vanity with the walls, shower, and tub area for a great customized look.

3 Common Mirror Mistakes

January 4, 2017 | Melinda Miles

Luxury living-room interior. 3d render. Photo behind the window was made by me.

Mirrors are great accessories to use because they are inexpensive, reflect light, and make a space appear larger. In order to do this, they have to be chosen and placed carefully. The most common problems in decorating with mirrors are:
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