Carol Maryott: A Focus on Area Rugs

We talked with interior designer Carol Maryott about our shared loved for all things area rugs!

What does the market for area rugs look like right now?

There is a rug for every taste, style and budget, and homeowners are getting more adventurous when selecting color and textures.  We are seeing wools and silks mixed together.  Non-traditional materials such as sisal, jute and abacca are being dyed and woven into rugs.

Sounds like a lot of options. What are some of the variations you can see in the cut, shape and design of an area rug?

Area rug shapes are typically rectangular and square, but are also now being made with scalloped edges.  There is a trend toward geometric and large –scale patterns.  A typical Persian rug has a smaller, intricate and balanced design, but many new rugs are asymmetrical with bold stripes or flowers.

One of the reasons for the popularity of area rugs in the past few years is due to the extensive use of hard surface flooring.  Area rugs are an easy way to change the mood of a space.  While wood floors add warmth and beauty to any space, rugs give a room comfort.  They can provide a focal point and help unify the colors in a room.  When starting to design a room, conventional wisdom says to select the area rug first.

Can a rug be the inspiration for a room?

Yes! The rug serves as the inspiration and link to the space’s other colors.  Before choosing a living room rug, decide whether to have one large rug or multiple smaller rugs to anchor different seating areas within the room.

How do I know which size rug to buy for my space?

When using one large rug, leave a minimum of 18 inches of bare floor space around the perimeter.  There is no maximum rule but 24 inches is often used. If it is a very small room, such as a foyer or entry way, you can get away with having less than 18 inches of bare floor showing around the rug, possibly, even 8 inches in a small space. Allowances must also be made for the space between the rug’s edge and a protruding hearth.

The guidelines for dining room rugs or any table that has a rug under it is that the distance from the edge of the table to the edge of the rug should be at least 24 inches. This will allow the back legs of the chairs to be on the rug when the chairs are pulled out.

So I can buy smaller rugs to make my space work?

Smaller area rugs can anchor distinct seating areas. The main seating area should have the largest rug, with smaller rugs in secondary furniture groupings.

When clustering furniture, it is preferable to have all furniture fit on the rug.  If all furniture for the room is available before choosing the rug, arrange the furniture before determining the size of a new area rug.  Multiple rugs in one room should be complementary in color and design, but do not have to be identical. Using two of the same rug in different spots in the same room helps define separate areas without causing the eye to become overwhelmed with two different rugs.

Incredible, Carol! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise!

Happy to share my thoughts and advice!

The Peak of Tres Chic with Sam Penner

Young, creative and eager to design spaces that make her clients glow, Sam Penner is one of Houston’s up-and-coming interior designers. 

Thanks for joining us, Sam! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a fascination with design. The creative process of turning a vision in to a reality is what I most enjoy. Growing up, my mother took me along to antique stores and instilled in me an appreciation for historical treasures from a very young age.   Although I have always had a passion for interiors, I never thought I could turn that passion into a career, so instead I went to university and pursued a business degree. Once I graduated in the spring of 2010, I went to work for an energy company in Houston, TX. Although I quickly fell in love with the city, I soon discovered the career path I was on was not going to fulfill me long-term.

As an alternative means to express my creativity outside of work, I began my design blog, The Peak of Tres Chic. I would share pictures of interiors I designed, as well as general inspiration surrounding the arts. It quickly became a place where I connected with other likeminded individuals who encouraged me and helped me develop my dreams.   After about 6 months of blogging, I decided to leave my job to go back to school at the Art Institute of Houston to pursue a degree in interior design, and now run a residential interior design business on the side.  And as they say, “the rest is history!”

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet for the feel of their personality?

When I first meet with a client for an initial consultation, I like to do so at their home.  I try to keep things relaxed and comfortable in this meeting, and let them do the talking!  Clients who hire an interior designer have often thought a lot about how they want their home to look, so I do my best to gain a full understanding of that vision in this first meeting.  I like to get an idea of how they live their daily lives, what they value and what their specific needs are so I can design appropriately.  Of course, desired time line and budget are discussed as well.

Your job is filled with challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

A constant challenge for most projects is designing a “high-end” look on a limited budget. I don’t believe you have to have an endless budget to create the space of your dreams.  It’s all about blending and mixing higher priced pieces with affordable ones in a cohesive fashion.  I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect pieces and keep working until a look is perfect and also fits the client’s desired budget.  If this just isn’t possible (i.e. VERY limited budget), I suggest doing the space in phases, as funds become available.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows.

I love HGTV as much as the next designer, and Million Dollar Decorators is another favorite.  Many HGTV shows are home improvement or “DIY”-style shows, which are inspiring and fun, but not exactly representative of what a professional interior designer does.  A common misconception is that interior designers = decorators.  We are definitely decorators, but there’s so much more to our profession- choosing finishes, to flooring and tile, to working with an architect on custom new builds, to designing cabinetry, there’s a lot that goes in to a complete design.

Texas is about being big! Describe a project you are most proud to have designed. What did it look like before? After?

I just recently launched my own interior design business and am still finishing up school, but I am very excited to be in the middle of designing a new build for a couple.  They are building their “dream house” and have graciously allowed me to help guide them through all the design decisions.  We just installed a travertine brick flooring in the entry, and it’s looking fabulous!  I can’t wait to see it all come together.  It’s been a lot of work but such a great opportunity for me professionally.  I’ve learned so much!

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

I am a big believer in area rugs.  They anchor a space and can add much needed color or texture.  Lately I have been layering rugs, like placing an animal hide over a sisal or seagrass.  If a client’s budget can afford it, I always recommend adding rugs to common spaces as well as the master bedroom, especially in the absence of carpet.  If a client is opposed to the idea of an area rug, I suggest custom carpet as an alternative.  It can be cut in a size that works with the space and there are many color and pattern options.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I love custom cut carpet as an alternative to an area rug.  Depending on the kind you choose, it can be considerably less expensive.  Also, there are so many fabulous rug vendors out there (like yourself) that offer chic yet affordable options!


Mauricio Nava: A Life Filled with Travel and Inspiration

From designing spaces for friends to working full-time as a designer in both Mexico and the United States, Mauricio Nava brings his unique passion into all his work.

Thanks for joining us Mauricio! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

I am originally from Mexico City, but have been living in Houston, Texas for the past 32 years. I love to travel with my wife every chance we get, spending time with family and friends and play almost any sport. I got into interior design because I have always had a love for all design, fashion and architecture. Ever since I was a kid, I would draw floor plans and loved looking though design magazines. Even before I started my own design company, I was always designing bedrooms, offices, class rooms and various different spaces for friends and family.

A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine who owns a national retail chain asked me to design his new condo, corporate offices and parents house all at the same time. When I found myself having more love and passion to work on these projects then my current job, I knew it was time to make a change. And as they say, “the rest is history”.

What would you describe as your style? Influences? Designers you emulate? 

I would say my style is primarily modern chic. I am driven by stylish, slick, clean lines in furniture and all accessories. I enjoy a space that is original and tastefully done. I don’t believe I emulate any particular designer, but love and admire the work by Philippe Starck.

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

YES! Clear tell tale signs are the use of fabrics, textures and combination of colors. The way the room flows and presented usually gives it away.

Texas is a state that does everything on a massive scale. What are some projects you most proud of and why?

One of the projects that I am most proud of is working on the corporate offices and home for Charming Charlie. It has given me a lot of credibility and recognition as a designer. I am very proud and honored to have had the privilege to work on these projects.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

Yes. Make sure that the furniture you are selecting fits properly in its new place and that it has a welcoming lay out. You would also want to make sure that the colors play well off the different fabrics, materials and accessories in the room. You should call in a designer when the space is not functional or inviting.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

To me the rug in the room is like a puzzle piece that puts the room together. I use them to bring in more texture and color into the room. Using a rug correctly can make the room feel larger and add a sense of style into the room. I love them and recommend using them in almost every room.

Why do you rely on area rugs? 

I rely on area rugs to give the room scale and additional style. Rugs also help balance the room and warms up a modern space that may usually look and feel too cold. To me, a room is not truly complete until it has a rug.

What is the biggest addition they make to a room?

They add style, warmth and color.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work?

I love any rug that has good texture. Since I am usually working with a modern space, it helps me balance the mix in the room. Depending on the size of the room, bed or sofa, is what size rug I will use. However, I usually go with a 6′ x 9′ or an 8′ x 10′. I prefer a solid color rug that adds a warmth and style.

Any that you avoid?

I try to avoid any rugs that look too busy. If the colors or design is overwhelming in the space, it can make the room feel messy and unbalanced. If the rug is used in a dining room or bedroom, I try to avoid using a rug that the fabric is too thick to prevent chairs getting stuck or heals from getting caught. I also avoid placing any rugs that are light in color when being used in a high traffic area.

Anything else to add?

Please feel free to visit my website at for inspirations and ideas. I am always working on new projects and continue to upload new images.

Thanks for your time! 

Thank you!

Lisa Goe: Form and Function

Always one to look for a challenge, Lisa Goe is helping her Houston-based clientele enjoy their newly designed space that is both livable and luxurious.

Thanks for joining us, Lisa. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.


You never know that you can be an interior designer, but ever since I was a child, I loved painting, making floral arrangements, sewing curtains, and arranging the furniture around our house. When I realized that interior design was not only my passion, but a potential career, I threw myself in and have been living and working in a great experience for the past seven years.

Texas is consumed with the idea of being the biggest.  How do you try to incorporate the Texas lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it?


We are, and I prefer larger statement pieces that make an impact. Ones that make you say “wow!” when you walk into a room!  Not every piece needs to be a focal point, but needs to be special and fit just right. Sometimes that’s big, and other times it’s more subtle.

 Describe some of your most challenging spaces. Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or could it limit your options?


Open floor plans! They are much more common these days, and they can sometimes be challenging to work with and require that I invest more creativity and thought in order to make them spectacular. I’ve learned that being  able to show my client the room layout in my 2D/3D design program makes the process much easier to envision.  Designing a room with a unique layout can be challenging, but believe me, it’s also a lot of fun!

Clients do seem consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free? 


I try to limit the clutter and use clean and airy color palettes create a peaceful and stress-free environment. Furniture that not only looks good, but feels just as good is also very important when designing a room.

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Texas homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design. 


Area rugs are very important in designing an office or residence, and is a great way to add color, pattern, and warmth to a space. I use them all the time!

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?


Definitely depends on the functionality of the space.  There are various types of rugs that fit anyone’s needs. I love rugs with larger modern patterns.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs?

Depending on the client, price is normally a factor. Some clients prefer rugs that can be replaced after several years, others would like something that is more of an investment that will stay around for generations.

Do you have any final words of design advice?


White and lighter colors are “in”, my best advice is to get all items professionally scotch guarded before using. You will be able to enjoy them more worry free.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation? 


They can reach me anytime at my Web site,

Beverly Vosko: The Benefit of a Refined Design Palate

From the hallowed halls of the Ivy League to the foyers of Houston, Beverly Vosko is using her smarts and design insight to create livable, flowing designs.

Thanks for joining us, Beverly. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

I am an overeducated Interior Designer who hails from Manhattan. I went to University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, and was in the middle of getting my MBA at NYU Stern when I got married, immediately moved to London and fell in love with both English and French antiques and English and French decoration.  So I studied at Sotheby’s  and the Inchbald School of Design and soon people began asking me to help them design their homes.

Texas is consumed with the idea of being the biggest.  How do you try to incorporate the Texas lifestyle into your designs? How do you try and limit it?

Texans loves “big” and many homes in Texas are big, so I try to incorporate furniture that looks great in those homes, such as large sofas and large case furniture pieces.  But furniture that is too large for a space makes that space look crowded and cramped, so I make sure the décor complements the space I am doing.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Would a unique layout always benefit the designer by expanding their ability to be creative? Or could it limit your options?

A long narrow space is challenging because if you are not careful, it can look like a tunnel.  Using color and trompe l’oil judiciously, you can fool the eye into thinking the space is squarer. Very angular spaces can be tricky, but again you can fool the eye in numerous ways, into making the space look less angular.  Unique layouts can be challenging but that is when we get to be creative and shine.

Open floor plans are more popular than ever and many clients are consumed with the idea of flow. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

I am a remodeler as well as a designer and I am often hired to remove walls and make the spaces more open so that they flow better, especially between kitchens and family rooms. And today everyone wants their homes to be havens of refuge from the outside world. Spaces that are more open look larger and more inviting, and using cool colors such as blues and greens mixed with whites or soft grays create interiors that are calming and stress reducing. I just finished decorating a home in the Heights in Houston where we used a palate of mainly white with green punches to create a fresh, lively yet very soothing space.

Area rugs, our specialty, are versatile. Texas homes and businesses have open spaces with traditional hardwood floors. Explain how you tend to incorporate the rugs into your design.

I am a Continuing Education Provider for Interior Designers and Architects as well as an Interior Designer and I have written classes and webinars on Oriental rugs and area rugs – so I am often asked to purchase them for clients as part of our overall design schemes. Wood floors are very popular today in both residential and commercial settings. Several years ago, I replaced many living room, dining room and family room carpets with wood flooring. Now people are asking me to remove the carpets throughout their homes, especially in their bedrooms and in their entire upstairs if they have 2 floors, and replace them with wood flooring. I just redecorated an accountant’s office and replaced the carpet with wood flooring as well.  Then in order to soften those spaces both visually and acoustically, and make them warm and cozy, I purchased area rugs for those spaces. Area rugs also have the benefit of being comfortable and soft to warm on, especially when barefoot.  Either the area rug should be the 1st major purchase that we make and we design the room around the rug, or we purchase all the fabrics and furniture and then purchase the rug in when the space is nearly done.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Oriental rugs have long been popular rugs, but today less pattern is more… so I use primarily wool and silk Tibetan rugs in soft grays and Oushaks in soft beiges which are easy to live with and complement any color scheme.

Are there price limits when it comes to rugs? 

In today’s economy there are price limits for everything, but purchasing a good quality area rug can really define a room.

Do you have any final words of design advice?

My advice to client’s who want to decorate a space, is to hire a designer! Hiring a designer will save them money because they will avoid major pitfalls and won’t make expensive mistakes. I was just flown to Santa Barbara by my friends and clients, so I could see the new home they had just purchased there, and help them decorate it.  They had told me that they wanted to purchase a small 72” sofa/loveseat and some large comfy chairs, but they had never measured the space and when I saw the home, I realized that they needed a larger sofa because it was going to sit on an 18’ wall beneath a 10’ window! And I saw that they had 2 tall, huge recliners blocking the egress into their main living space which looked terrible, and they wanted to purchase new similar sized chairs, when in actually they needed smaller, lower chairs!  When I asked them why they had the chairs virtually sitting in the entryway, they said it was so they could watch the TV on the opposite wall. Since they have a magnificent view of the water and the mountains which was the reason they purchased this home in the first place, I suggested that they get swivel chairs which they place opposite the sofa, so they can see their breathtaking view all the time, and then swivel the chairs to watch the TV. When I explained my reasoning, they were thrilled and so glad that they had flown me to Santa Barbara to see their home and help them make the correct purchases, rather than making the mistake of purchasing all the wrong furniture themselves.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

I live in West University Place in Houston TX. My company name is Beverly Vosko Interiors and I have a wonderful website… and on that website, there is a gallery with many photos of rooms that I have done. I design for my clients and believe in giving them exactly what they want and making their dreams come true.  I have been in business for over 25 years and can design in any style, be it transitional, contemporary or traditional, and as I mentioned above, do both design and remodeling. You can also reach me at 713 464-0055 or I would love to schedule an appointment and discuss how to make your dreams come true.


Leisurely Designs with Meg Lonergan

Whether it’s a new purchase or a repurposed piece of furniture, interior designer Meg Lonergan knows how to make any space fresh again.

Thanks for joining us, Meg. Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in interior design?

I’ve been redecorating, reading design magazines and flea market/garage sale shopping since I was a little girl. In college I worked for a fine linen boutique and also an Asian antique company. I repainted my college apartment (every room) twice, and made myself window treatments and a custom duvet cover!  I then worked for a high-end contemporary furnishings showroom and design firm in New Zealand after university. After moving to Houston in 2009 I was approached by some family friends to help with their new home, and the rest is history.

You live and work in Texas. What are some Texas-like themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the Lonestar state?

As you’ve probably heard, everything is bigger in Texas. I love furniture that fills a room. Nothing is worse than seeing a puny small sofa, or rug that only sits under a coffee table and not under the sofa and chairs too. When putting in bookshelves in my own home, I had them installed floor to ceiling. Not an inch was wasted. I don’t necessarily think that bigger furniture is better, just maximizing the space to it’s fullest potential by placing furniture of an appropriate scale is very important.

All spaces are unique, but in Texas you must find that there are design features every client wants. Which are most popular? Any type of furniture or finishing you find dependable in pleasing your client? 

I think Texans appreciate comfort. There is a sense of casualness about them.  They like to entertain, they like to cook and they like to hang out at home and watch football.  I find that most of my clients approach me because they want their home to feel lived in, totally comfortable and have that ‘collected over time’ feel. We are using a lot of natural materials that are not necessarily super formal, but are practical and not too fancy. Seagrass rugs. Linen English arm sofas. Old French farm tables. Antique Rugs, that may or may not have a hole or two. I like to find vintage and antique pieces to fill in the blanks. They make a home more interesting.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your design experiences and current forms of inspiration?

My first priorities are to find out how the client wants to live. How they vision the space functioning. What must they have and what are those things that might be an absolute no. What the is the budget? What spaces are the most urgent to complete? Then my job is to help them make the best decisions in purchasing their furnishings. What can we reuse that they might already have, maybe re-purposing something. I draw on my experience and pass on that knowledge to them, so that they avoid making costly mistakes. I am always keen to try something new in each new project, I like to design using a different color palette, or shopping with a new vendor. I am always giving my clients choices, letting them choose and make final decisions. At the end of the day, they are living in the home and I want my projects to reflect them. I am there to offer a new perspective, some creative ideas and facilitate the entire design.

Texas has grand hallways and with that comes nice hardwood floors, and eventually some area rugs. Tell us how you use rugs in your designs.

I am obsessed with rugs. Growing up overseas in Asia I spent many hours shopping for Persian carpets with my mother. I gained an appreciation of their art from an early age. My home is covered in them. Rugs over rugs. I’ve been layering a lot lately. I recently placed a small (5×8) antique mustard and raspberry Oushak over a large seagrass rug in a clients’ home and the result was gorgeous. It makes that special piece show off even more than if it were laying alone. It was so simple, and gave the room a new look by adding color and pattern. I also always use rugs in kitchens. Who wants to walk on a cold floor barefoot?

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

I usually lean on seagrass. It’s so inexpensive and it’s so durable. I laid a seagrass rug wall to wall in a bathroom to cover some ugly tile. For $500 it was cheaper than ripping out the tile, and in a few years when it needs to be replaced you’re not breaking the bank. Then after that I lean on Persians. I love them old and beat up, they are wool and they last a lifetime. They will never go out of style in my book.

Is there a price limit on what you’ll spend on the rug? 

No! I have shopped for antique Persians that are $70K, and are truly collectors items. Then I’ve also found deals at estate sales for little entry rug for $250.

Any words of design advice for the wannabe’s out there?!

Work for a couple of designers or design firms. Everyone has a different way of organizing their business and it really pays off to get exposure to a few different people to find out how they work. Also it seems like a glamorous profession on the outside, but there is a lot of unglamorous stuff that goes along with it. Installations are messy, moving furniture can be miserable, the paperwork is a nightmare. It’s good idea to try to see 100% of what goes on behind the pictures in Elle Decor.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

Readers can see more of my work on my website, I have a few new finished projects being uploaded soon. Although it’s been ages since I’ve been able to blog (being a mom to a 1 yr old and running a growing business is time consuming!), my blog has a lot of images that I find inspiring and that gives people an idea of my sense of style.

Thanks for your time!

Thanks to you!

Regina Kurtz: Understanding the Design Climate

Southern California interior designer Regina Kurtz understands climate and client can help turn a good design into something great.

Thanks for joining us, Regina! Tell us a little bit about your training in interior design and how you came to choose both the profession and location.

With interests always rooted in the arts, my first career was in the fashion industry in New York.  When I moved to Southern California inspired me to re-think my professional goals, realizing that an alternative career in interior design would allow me to express my creativity while improving and enriching other people’ lives. Returning to college to earn a BA degree in interior design, I knew from the very first class that I had made the right choice and I have never for one moment regretted my decision.

Is Southern California a challenging market for interior decorating? What are some of the major influences for the area?

Not necessarily. Because we are not steeped in tradition the way that the East Coast is, there are more opportunities to “ think outside the box”.  We have a wide variety of architectural styles that afford wonderful opportunities for creative expression, and our mild and consistent climate allows us to experiment with new materials and technologies both in interior as well as exterior spaces.

What’s your design philosophy? How do you try and implement it in your work?

Function and beauty are the foundations of my design philosophy and are the main elements on which I build all of my designs. This, along with respect for the architecture of the space and an understanding of the client’s needs and desires is what results in successful design solutions and happy clients.

Are your clients typically looking for big jobs, or a room-by-room type thing?

Both.  At any given time I can be working on a simple kitchen or bathroom remodel at the same time as I am designing a spatially challenged high rise condo and or a multimillion dollar mansion.

When it comes to floor coverings, tell us how you incorporate area rugs into your designs.

I find that I am using area rugs now more than ever. Since so many of my clients are opting for hard surface floors such as stone and hardwood, I use  area rugs to provide the warmth and texture previously provided by wall to wall carpet. In addition  I often use them to define a space, create a focal point, establish a color scheme and-or  bring the various elements of a room or space together..

Do you have any types of rugs you use more often than others in Southern California? Favorites for certain homes?

No.  I use a wide variety of rugs, from traditional Persian patterns in my more traditional designs, to the less complicated motifs found in colorful Tibetan designs when I am working on more contemporary spaces. Frequently I work with companies that allow me to custom color their designs, and if I am looking for texture rather than pattern and color to pull a space together I love the look of natural sisal.

Any other tips or tricks for using area rugs?

Although rugs are traditionally used on floors, I have on occasion used them as wall hangings. They can make a very dramatic statement and can be a wonderful substitute for the more expected framed art.


Cynthia Prizant: Design in the Mood:

When it comes to finding the right design for a client, Cynthia Prizant believes that mood helps dictate style.

Thanks for joining us, Cynthia. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design and how you ended up in design?

I’ve been an artist for most of my life – painting, sculpting, & drawing. My first career was in software development where I learned the art of project management.  I decided that I wanted to redirect my career into an area where I could apply my love of color, composition and design, while still applying my knowledge of how to run a project. I went back to school to earn my degree in interior design, and subsequently, started my own firm.

You live and work in Southern California. What are some themes you carry into your design that might have originated in the city?

The architecture and environment always play and important role in my designs. Many of the homes in this area are based on Spanish & Mediterranean architecture. The color palette and materials that I choose in these cases might be warmer & chunkier.  If a space is near the beach, or we are trying to emphasize a beach-y vibe, I will often select a more casual and cooler design scheme.

All spaces are unique, but with a green concentration you must find that there are items you tend to repeat. What would they be? Which are most dependable? 

Sourcing from local manufacturers is a huge benefit to the environment by reducing the impacts of shipping.  As for particular green design elements, there is now a great wealth of truly green and well designed products available so that it is much easier to choose interesting and unique materials and still maintain an environmentally conscientious design.

What are you first priorities when meeting a new client in a new space? How much are you matching their needs to your education and inspiration?

Top priorities for creating the ‘perfect’ space for a client are understanding how they live, how they want to use their space and what they love and dislike, while considering the architecture and environment in which the space exists.  My education and knowledge of solid design principles enables me to design a space that fits their needs, while my artistic and creative skills allow me to create a space that they love.

Southern California has some nice hardwood floors and that usually means area rugs. Tell us how you use some of these in your designs.

Area rugs are a wonderful means for defining a space. On the other hand, I consider them a vital part of the overall composition.  Sometimes a bold rug paired with more neutral furniture can create a dynamic statement in a room.  Other times, a quieter design in the rug can create a sophisticated ambience.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

The mood of the design dictates the type of area rug that I select, whether it be casual, formal, playful, or edgy.

How much is too much when it comes to rugs

The area rug should work as a component of the entire design. If multiple area rugs are used within the same space, they need to relate to each other in some way.

Any final words of design advice?

Many clients are looking for the ‘right’ answer and absolute rules when it comes to design. The beauty of design and why I love doing it every day is that there are so many variations that are ‘right’. ‘Right’ is when you feel good living or working in a space, and you are happy to be there.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

A portfolio of my work is available on my website,  I can be reached by email at or through the contact page on my site.


Anne Kellett: Those Who Can Design, Teach Design

In addition to designing kinder spaces for her clients, Anne Kellett uses her knowledge of the business world to teach the next generation of interior designers.

Thanks for joining us, Anne! Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into interior design.

I’ve actually been an interior designer for almost 40 years now so how I got into it is a bit of a distant memory. I went to college at the University of Connecticut and after changing majors three times, I finally found the interior design department and felt at home. I had been an Army brat and my mother in 22 years of marriage made 30 different homes so I learned how to create “home” at her knees. I’ve worked for furniture stores, small design firms and had my own business since 1984. I’ve lived and worked in different regions of the country, from New England to Virginia and now in California. The styles in each area are quite different but the design process of working with clients remains the same. Creating a space that makes a difference in a person or family’s life is universal. It’s not about the style but about making it work for them in a beautiful way.

How would you describe as your style? Influences? Designers you emulate?

My personal design style is eclectic, more transitional than “a style” per se. I personally like elements of traditional and contemporary. 18th century Chippendale dining chairs with a glass table, for instance. I have been influenced mostly by textiles, which I absolutely love! I have quite a background in historic textiles and am fascinated by how an ancient motif can be reused in a fresh new way. I am thoroughly at home in a fabric showroom.

When I work with clients I try to make their style my style. It’s not about me, it’s about them. My job is to help them define their style and create a space for them that express who they are. If I were to say what my “signature” is – it would be the use of color and beautiful fabrics.

I’ve never emulated other designers. There are those whom I respect – Barbara Barry, and Candice Olson – to name a couple but I’ve never tried to copy them.  I just enjoy their creations.

When you enter a room can you tell if it has been professionally decorated? What are the tell tale signs?

Most definitely! There is a cohesiveness and level of sophistication in the use of design elements that very few amateurs can pull off. In my opinion very few homeowners or “DIYers” have the ability to look objectively at a space and pull it together professionally.

Which project are you most proud of and why?

Tough question for someone who has been designing for as many years as I have! I would have to say, however, that the Williamsburg Area Hospice House tops the list. It was a two-year pro bono project to create a four-bedroom respite care facility that “felt” residential but “worked” as a medical space at the same time. I knew I had done it right when a friend later told me that when they were there with a relative, they felt hugged the minute they walked in the door.

Are there any rules you must follow when decorating your own space? When should you call in a designer?

First of all be true to yourself. Know what you like and what you don’t like. Don’t try to copy exactly what you see on HGTV or Houzz or Pinterest. If you can’t define your style in words, gather photos of spaces that evoke the feeling you want to incorporate in your space and call in a designer who can help you. Good designers are problem solvers at heart and know how to interpret YOU. They have the resources you don’t to make a space truly yours.

We like rugs. Tell me a little about the various ways your incorporate them into your designs.

I like rugs too! I actually love area rugs, particularly handmade Orientals. I was very fortunate when I lived in Virginia to work with Mark Gonsenhauser, a second generation rug dealer from South Africa. He taught me so much about the history of rugs and how they differed regionally. One of my favorite things to do as a designer is to start with a fabulous rug and choose all the fabrics and finishes from it. Nothing makes a room’s focal better than a great area rug.

Why do you rely on area rugs? What is the biggest addition they make to a room? Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work? Any that you avoid?

Area rugs, especially the handmade ones, are like fine art. The client has to really love their design. I tell them to choose a rug that will delight them every time they walk into the room. My role is to guide them through the process of finding that rug. The particular type, color or size depends on the style and function of their room. If the room is a formal one, then I will most likely guide them towards a floral motif. If it is a casual space, then a more geometric design might be the ticket.

I guess the only type of area rug I might avoid is a long, thick shag rug. A lot of young people think they are really cool but I’m old enough to have lived with them in the 70’s when you needed a rake as well as a good vacuum to keep them looking good!

Anything else to add?

Moving to San Diego has brought some new avenues to my career. As a leading edge Baby Boomer I enjoy incorporating more universal design features into my spaces so my clients can “age gracefully” in their homes. I have become a local spokesperson for this issue and often speak at events with a presentation “So Where Do YOU Want to Live When You Grow Up?” which addresses the challenges of aging but show beautiful solutions for specific spaces like kitchens and baths.

I also have become a designer of cat habitats. I won a design competition for a multiple cat space in our local humane society which has led to other clients who want functional but whimsical spaces for their feline family members.

Teaching and guiding the next generation of interior designers is also part of what I do. Design Institute of San Diego ( is an excellent four year small, private college that only teaches interior design, conferring a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design degree. I’ve taught Textiles, Business Practices and an the introductory design class. Currently I administer their Internship program and career services. Being around young people and watching them develop as designers is very rewarding and fun too.)

Thanks for your time, Anne!

Thanks to you!

Savvy Interiors with Susan Wintersteen

Designs that flow have function and can be suitable for the whole family are difficult to create, but Susan Wintersteen knows how deliver on all those promises and keep your space savvy.

Thanks for joining us, Susan. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in interior design.

Like many people, I was interested in how I could create spaces that were aesthetically pleasing and functional. I seem to have inherited both my interior design and entrepreneurial talent from my grandmother — a respected interior designer in Orange County, who also ran her own interior design business. What started as my interest in designing interior spaces — often in my own home —grew into working for friends and neighbors with remodeling, updating and renovating.  Now, with more than 10 years experience, Savvy Interiors is a full service interior design business, offering a wide range of interior design services and specializing in remodeling, re-flooring and re-design.

Southern California definitely has a cool vibe. What elements of the SoCal lifestyle do you try and incorporate into your designs?

In Southern California we get an eclectic blend of Tuscan home sites with warm tile and finishes and a strong coastal influence seen in interiors designed around contrasts of light and dark, cool hues of blues and greens, and textures of linen and silks.

Describe some of your most challenging spaces? Does a more unique layout always benefit the designer? Hurt?

A unique layout or space helps the designer define boundaries, work within parameters to achieve a space that maximizes its’ potential. Creative, “out of the box” ideas apply best when there are challenges to overcome.

The idea of flow is huge in design. How are your designs patterned to help the occupant feel that the space is stress-free?

I believe that each space does not necessarily need “flow” to create a pleasing stress free environment. Sometimes, working within my clients’ needs for functionality, and incorporating that into a design they love, may not include what is traditionally thought of as flow. A stress free design for a client with small children may be forgiving fabrics and surfaces, but at the same time include elements appropriate for youngsters. A spa like retreat to a master bedroom may not “flow” in a traditional sense. I design for the whole family, the whole space, both aesthetically and functionally

Area rugs are versatile and since SoCal has plenty of loft space with hardwood floors, I’m sure you see a bunch. Tell us how you tend to incorporate them in your design?

Area rugs are one of the grounding foundations of a space that helps unify the elements of a space. Many clients are turning to solid surface flooring like wood and tile for function. Area rugs can provide the cozy, and warm qualities missing from hard surface flooring.

Do you have a type of area rug that you lean on most? Or is it a case-by-case basis?

Many of the area rugs I create for clients are custom cut and bound rugs. I believe all family room spaces should have a durable, playful rug underfoot. By incorporating texture, twist, and density, I can play off a texture or color in the something like a sofa. I use patterned rugs mostly in the dining rooms to add color on an otherwise wood filled room.

Any final words of design advice?

As a designer, I try to engage in all types of design and styles. My first priority is to create a floor plan or space that is pleasing to my clients. I’ve been sharing my work not only with my clients, but with the design community and others through Facebook,, and now I’ve found others are attracted to the look I am creating. The reception and enthusiasm for my design aesthetic and balance of form and function is very rewarding.

Where can readers see your work, or make an appointment for consultation?

I invite you to find out more about Savvy Interiors by visiting or our Facebook page at and our web site at