Studying My Inner D.J.- Dorm Decor For Guys (#Oliohop 4)

As always, I am honored to be a member of's monthly Blog Hop (lovingly referred to as our #Oliohop). This month I share the stage with ten other design bloggers, many of whom I have had the pleasure of joining forces with before. Our oliohops are a fun way to see one design concept in many different professional perspectives, seeing our creative minds in action on 2D and 3D boards. So hop around with us today, as we tackle one of the happiest times of the year for parents... Back To School!

With two kids in college, creating a dorm room design is a bittersweet subject matter. Sweet because I have two wonderful daughters in college; bitter because they both still live at home, but hey, a gal can dream! 

I decided to venture out to a world that I love, a world of urban decor and music. Whether your child is a mixmaster himself, a closet bedroom d.j. or just appreciates music as much as I do, he will love the D.J. inspired room I created for this dorm.

Dorm rooms follow a few basic principles that we cannot escape; but instead play up within a design.

1. Dorm room space is limited- You only get half a room, and sometimes just a third. Make it work by maximizing spaces with items that are as shallow as possible, layering when you can. Here I added storage without adding furniture. By taking a basic shelf from Ikea and stacking them, I've provided a way to store books, equipment or decorative items without sucking up valuable floor space.

2. Pre-furnished versus adding furniture- Thankfully, most dorm rooms come pre-furnished with your basics; a bed, a desk and closet. For those that don't I suggest a simply framed bed, such as the Malm from Ikea. Lacking a box spring, the malm promotes a somewhat tidy bed, allows a great backdrop for decorative sheet sets and coordinates with most modern, transitional and even traditional decor.

3. Dorm room space is REALLY limited- (definitely worth repeating)Whether you've added your own furnishings or have brought in your own, adjust your layout to create the illusion of space as best as possible. By placing a desk at the foot of this bed, we've squeezed out a bit more wall space, which a dorm never has enough of. Here we've focused it on a fun way to hide your laundry, which very rarely fits in your micro-sized closet. This washing machine looking basket is from Modcloth for just $27.99.

4. Stretch Your Budget- With as little time as you'll spend in your dorm room, shop smart and decorate with in stock items as lower priced stores. Consider that you won't be the only one in your space, so high dollar decor is not only unecessary, it's unsafe to have.

5. Find A Theme You Love & Almost Go Nuts- Notice I say almost... There really can be too much of a good thing. Designers know how to edit, but often times someone gets an idea in their head and goes far too overboard with it, making every piece in that room focus on that one color or theme. This room is a good example of working with a theme without becoming a slave to it.

Hey Mr. D.J.

So, how do you get this funky D.J. look in your dorm room? Start with this fun wall applique by Etsy for $120.00. It's one of the most expensive pieces in the room, but takes up a great deal of space and creates an amazing backdrop for your theme. It comes in many different colors, so find one you want and build your accents around that color palette. Here I used blues. Best of all, it adds color and pattern to your walls that's easily removed when you're done learning!

For far less money, and a little labor, create this great equalizer look on your wall and make the buttons into hooks for your jackets, hats or headphones.

On the left of the wall are speaker box interiors that double as coat racks, also found at If you enter d.j. decor into the search, you'll find many of the items that I've used to create this room. Etsy is a fantastic source to support smal businesses and individuals who create handmade, quality goods from home decor to jewelry. It's a favorite source of mine when shopping for my design clients!

Tie in your decor by using a few pieces of art that continue your look along with a few pieces of decor that mimic your color sheme. 

Add Fun- College is an amazing time in your life. Bring in elements that show your personality, like these fun balloon dog pillows. Play games with your roomate or other room visitors with this great Scrabble wall mounted board by Entertainmenthearth for just $27.99. Both fun and educational, play a lifesized game of Words With Friends or total strangers. Feeling creative? Take some CD jewel cases and create a chandelier with a simple light kit.

This room will be your home for the next two to four years, so make it comfortable, but stylish with my help and the help of my ten other partners in #Oliohop 4. Find them below and see what they've created! If you liked my space, please let me know below. Don't forget to see my other boards at Olioboard.

Charisse of

Kate of


Colette of


 Julie of

Matthew of


 Joanne of

Lynda of


 Antoinette of

 Selma of

Ana of




Design Styles- A New Blog Series on Current Interior Design Styles

My latest client has given me the best idea for my a blog series. Everytime I meet a client for the first time I run through a series of questions about their space, their life, their style. Many clients do an extensive amount of homework prior to our first meet. They cut out magazine pictures, show me houzz or pinterest pics on their ipads or just give me an idea of a style they wish to incorporate into their new space. A recent client, however, was completely stumped about her design style. She had NO idea what she liked and throughout her life had never defined a style for her space. She lived into her adult life with hand me downs and non-descipt pieces she purchased with no purpose other than function. I felt kind of sad for her, having never experienced the joy of loving a particular style of design. After all, I find many homeowners to love their different styles of decor and many are quite passionate about them, as are most designers. 

I often try to circumvent the question, when asked by a homeowner "What is my style". My answer is always simple, "It's yours". After all, that is our job- to create a home that reflects you, not ourselves. I feel some designers tend to get this wrong. If you look at their portfolios you'll see the same style regergitated over and over again like a one trick pony. They fail to understand their main objective, which is their client. Once I am done within your space, it's you who has to live there. I would never inflict my personal style on someone whose tastes is vastly different than my own. I also don't like to reveal my style of preference because it may give the impression that I can master no other, when in fact, I have perfected many. A good designer can create an elaborate Mediterranean design and then go off and well execute an ultra-modern loft. But enough about us...let's talk about those many styles that make our hearts skip a beat when you tell us, "That's what I want my house to look like!"

There are so many categories of design and far more substyles within those categories. For instance- one could say they like contemporary... but what style of contemporary do you prefer- Ultra-Modern, Industrial, Rustic, Ethnic, Metropolitan, Mid- Century? The list goes on from there, these just happen to be some of the most current. Do you understand the differences between them and what makes them special?

Come along with me on my series dedicated to the many current styles of design and I will show you. Perhaps you will find a new style to love when we're done! 

My first post is all about GLAM CHIC or Metropolitan... one of my favorites and one of the most popular new (old) trends in design.

2 Weeks in the Life of a SMALL Interior Design Job (Part 5)

SOOOO, It's been 11 days since I met with my client, Elvira on the evening she moved to Arizona and her one bedroom apartment in Tempe is now completed. We met all of our deadlines within the space and she cannot be happier with the results. Here's how it all went down.

Monday, May 28th- Met my new client for the first time and signed our design contract to begin the "design" portion of her project. This did not include items for her space that I had not yet planned. (Separate contract)

Wednesday, May 30th- Met with Elvira for the second time to review her design for her space. (This is the fastest design plan I have ever created for a client EVER, but I was able to do so because the space was SO small, required a minimal amount of stock furnishings that were easy to shop for and researched mostly online. We signed contract to make purchases.

Thursday, May 31st- Purchases and work began in her apartment. We painted the apple green box where her click clack sofa would sit and furnishings were assembled. The shelf liner I found (an unexpected touch) was installed on the wall with just an additional reinforcement of wallpaper paste along the edges.

Friday, June 1st- All items for the apartment were completed, minus one bookcase that I ordered and had not yet shipped. 

Thursday, June 7th- Bookcase delivered and set up with the remaining accessories, leaving a few small areas for her to incorporate her own pieces over time. This is an important part of what I do with my clients. Yes, I create a complete space but I also allow for your own personalization as time goes on. Through educating my clients throughout my entire process, they get to learn their style and the right pieces to add to their space, should they ever find one that fits their fancy. This makes it your own home, rather than a home that "Michelle designed". That means a lot to me.


Here is the dining area of the apartment. Her unit wasn't available to measure, so I took pics of the adjacent unit (a reverse of her floorplan). Based on this pic, the room appears narrow, small and dark.

Mid- remodel and the space is much larger looking now. A shelf liner in a great aqua print adds the perfect touch of temporary color to this apartment. SCALE IS EVERYTHING in design. (I cannot stress this enough). One of the largest mistakes I see when I meet homeowners is furniture that is either too large or too small for a room. This dining area was only 8' wide. I found the perfect table, narrower than the average, at just 38" wide. It's just enough for a place setting and perfect for 4 to sit comfortably and dine. Simple, pretty canvas prints with our color scheme of aqua, teal and apple green are a great fit for this tall wall.

The room is light and airy now. Elvira, my client, would like to fill the hurricane jars herself. (This was prior to ironing the linens, lol)

Elvira wanted happy colors. She was initially unsure of her style, which we got to learn was 'Modern'. This space proves modern, clean lines can also be comfortable. She wanted a futon suitable for a guest on the rare occasion that one will come and stay with her. I opted for a click clack sofa, which has more of a true sofa feel. This one boasts a sexy opening in the back, which was perfect to highlight the one box we painted behind it. 

The apartment community that she moved into allows her to paint her walls, but most renters don't have this luxury. I minimized the expense of painting a full wall and added a great way to highlight a piece of art, by painting one square behind her sofa, large enough to "frame" the art above it. The fun peek-a-boo effect it gives in the open back of the sofa is an added stylish, bonus. 

Although I used neutrals for all of the base furnishings, I love to add accent furnishings in a great print or bold color. Here I brought in the apple green in ottomans with tops that flip over to become trays. Be a more daring than just using pops of color in throw pillows! Accent furniture is cheap enough to have fun with and then ditch in the future if your color preferences change.

Speaking of pillows... check out the fantastic ones I picked up at Pier 1 between $19.95 and $35.95. The aqua pillow at the end is down filled. 

The massive canvas pic of The Flat Iron Building in NY is my favorite thing in the room. It was purchased by my client the day she moved here and could not have been more perfect for this wall! Nesting tables provide additional space for family photos in small frames.

The final piece and well worth the wait... this funky bookcase has multiple box shelves at different heights and areas, preventing it from ever being a bore!

Sometimes the most rewarding projects are the smallest ones. I don't often get to do apartments or condos, but it was a refreshing depart from my design norm. My team laughed and joked about how the mad rush to complete this space felt like an episode of an HGTV show. We had fun and seeing the look on Elvira's face as she came home to her new apartment for the first time was priceless. It's my natural high to please my clients with their dream home, big or small. I got to do it again!


The psychology of why you haven't updated your space...

I'm sure you've heard it said before: interior designers become more like a psychiatrist to their clients. We can't help it, we really get to know you when we work with you, so intimately, within your space. One thing that seems to be SO, SO true is that a person's home is usually a direct reflection of where they're at, at that time. Here are a few of the most popular situations we come across.

Cluttered Spaces- If it's cluttered, you may be in a state of being unorganized. Perhaps you just can't find anything or have needed a place to put certain important papers, collections, or items you just never got around to buying an organizational piece for. Because of this, you are always searching for things you've misplaced. Maybe you haven't gotten around to focusing on that project or work you are suppose to complete. When we don't have dedicated, comfortable and organized spaces, we tend to have chaotic, frantic or unorganzied lives. You may have always been a very neat person and yet have dealt with an event that created this shift in your psyche. This can be resolved with a repurposing of your space, bringing in organzied pieces, but must also include a new wall color to transform your mind in addition to the way you work within your room. Make yourself happy to organize, happy to work. You need to do more than just find things, you have to be happy to find them when you do! This trick will help you transform your life.

Outdated Styles- If your home is outdated, you may be in a state of comfort due to fear of the unknown. You loved it back then and the room was perfect...why change it now? "It's just easier to leave it the way it is". Perhaps you have a memory attached to that room or a piece in it and it threatens your heart to remove that thing because you fear it will fade your feelings. Keeping the old that simply doesn't work anymore is usually about the fear of change and sometimes updating can become a little upsetting as a result; however, you can move on and take a good memory with you. Take a picture of your old space to treasure or repurpose one good quality piece in the room and then renew the rest. Leaving the past behind can be difficult, but the wonderful new look will help you heal.

Make It Go Away- If you are ready to get rid of every single piece in a space, you are at a point of renewal in your life. Maybe you've held onto the look and furnishings in your home because they were part of an old life that you are ready to step away from. You don't want ANY part of that memory... just junk it all! This is a great feeling to have. You are open to new commitments, new styles and are at the least inhibited stage of your life. Have fun with it! Go for a funky, bold color on a wall... break something that's going to be switched out for something new! Donate any old pieces in good condition and share your uplifted, new lease on life!

Your home can be a psychological reflection of your life and there's nothing wrong with that, but it's cathartic to recognize it. Remodeling a space in your home can be an uplifting, spiritual or even mentally freeing gift for both you and your room. Take that step with a good interior designer, so you don't have to bare the brunt of transformation on your own. Together we can move onto something beautiful!

A Homeowner's costly furniture mistakes-Why you should hire an interior designer!

I couldn't help myself... I was trolling on two of my favorite sites- and craigslist, looking for a wingback chair for a client, when I came across this sad, little ad. I had to take a screen shot of it because this is such a common occurance, and yet seems to be so unreal to homeowners.

This poor homeowner custom ordered a sofa and wingback chair that they thought would be perfect for their space. They probably loved the style, planned for it, even matched the colors for other accessories in the space; hopefully they didn't paint! They waited for their pieces to come in, maybe told friends about the wonderful set, they no doubt spent a nice amount of money on. They had their eagerly anticipated pieces delivered and then carried into their space by the delivery guys...only to find out that they just don't fit in the room! ALL OF THAT TIME AND MONEY WASTED to only have to make another purchase or leave their living room empty.

Judging from the post and the size of the first picture (the sofa, showing a corner at the far left), this was to go into an Arizona formal living room space, which is normally a smaller room at the entry of the home, rarely used for more than decoration. I'm sure this homeowner never considered hiring an interior designer for this space. After all, they found a great sofa and chair they loved all on their own. What would they possibly need me for? This!... This is the exact reason you hire a professional to help you plan your home.

Scale is the number one, most misunderstood concept when homeowners try to design their own spaces. Don't be offended by this, no one should expect you to know how to properly interpret it. It's a skill that is taught to us, not just something the average person knows or understands. There are rules to perfecting it, there's some math involved with planning it and a good eye involved with implementing it to the best benefit of a floorplan.

Long and short of it, I could have saved this homeowner thousands of dollars. The average amount of hours required to plan a space this size, as a full service interior designer would have been less than the cost that she is selling this pair for on craigslist right now (it's cut off on the top, but they are listed for $1,800 ((less than half of what she paid)). Had she called me for just a DIY Design Consultation in Gilbert, AZ (where this ad was placed), she could have still made the purchase on her own, with the correct measurements and information to do it all herself for just $350.00. I would truly love to tell her this, but I don't think she'd appreciate this information after the fact. :-( 

Thank you, unhappy homeowner, for helping me show how valuable an interior designer can be when it comes to creating the perfect space. I'm sorry for what you have gone through and really hope you do sell your set to help you recover from your loss. In the meantime, I am hoping that your misfortune will help others to understand that hiring an interior designer can truly be a money saving tool. Our jobs are not as easy as one may think!