Hi friends!

Many of you may have already caught wind. But this past weekend we had the special opportunity to be at the Salt Lake City Pinner’s Conference. We had a booth set up for Shop and were able to showcase and sell a new line of product! I even got to teach a class on all things design! It was a busy weekend and a lot of work to prep for - but we did it! And we’re so happy with how it went!


At the requests of many of you who attended my class, I’m here to share what we chatted about in my class titled, “Guidelines to a Design Friendly Home.” While I was prepping for what material to share, I decided that I really wanted to gear this more towards those who may not have a clue with how to go about designing their own home. What to do, what not to do, how to do it, all the things! So let’s jump right in, shall we?

We started by discussing the number one mistakes people make when designing their own space. First up: BUYING WITHOUT MEASURING. This is huge!! And I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Before you do anything to your space, you first have to measure! So run down to your nearest Home Depot and buy yourself a nice long measuring tape. And then scrounge up some scrap paper. Because you need to lay each room out!

I took the liberty of drawing up some of the main areas of the home. With guided notes to help you find the right sized furniture for your space. Starting with the dining room

Dining Layout.jpg

Now, I get it. Your dining room may look nothing like this. You may have built-in cabinetry, or other furniture such as a sideboard or bar cabinet. But the point is to apply the rules to your own individual space, as noted above.

One question I get a lot for this space is: “Do I need a rug under my table?” And my answer to that would be, not always. In some instances, like our #aipohproject the space would not fit a standard size rug. And I still think it looks great without it!


You might run into this same problem if your dining area is a nook off the kitchen. But in general, if you’ve got the right size space to allow for a rug, do it! It will really ground the space and make it feel more complete. But just please, oh please, measure before you buy!!

I told my class that for every room, measuring for your rug should be the first thing you do. And I’m going to tell you right now, you most likely need one wayyy bigger than what you think you need. That’s right, the 5x7 rugs that they have stalked at Ikea just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Not if you’re wanting a “designer-look” home anyways.

You want to make sure to allow for at least 24” of rug space off either end of your dining table, so that in the case of your dinner guest scooting out to stand up, their chair is still on the rug. My advice is to go with a flat weave rug that won’t catch or make it hard to move your chairs around. And BONUS: They are also much easier to clean in the case of spills!

Dining Layout-2.jpg

Now, let’s talk about lighting in this space. If you’ve got a chandelier above your dining table, you want to make sure that it is AT LEAST half the width of your table. I’m sorry, but If you have a tiny pendant hanging above a 8’ wide dining table, nothing about that space is going to look to scale.

This same rule applies for your kitchen pendants. I’ve had clients in the past text me pictures of kitchen pendants they want for their island when they only measured to be 8-10” in diameter. If you have a 9’ long Island and need three hanging pendants, you better make sure they are at least 18” around!

9x12 = 108 | Divided by 2 = 54 | Divided by 3 = 18!

Hopefully you’re catching on there..

Moving on to the living room. Again, this may look nothing like your living space. But apply the same rules! Most importantly, make sure you have at least 24” of walking space between all furniture and make make MAKE sure you have at least the front two legs of all seating selections on the rug. If you don’t, your rug is definitely too small!

Another fun rule for this room applies in the same sort of way the lighting does. And that is to make sure that your coffee table measures to be AT LEAST half the width of your sofa is. Otherwise, it’s just too small!

Bedroom Layout.jpg

Last but not least, the bedroom. This one here is a master bedroom with a king sized bed. Which will most likely always call for a 9x12 rug (to allow for 24” of rug showing on all three sides of the bed). If you have a queen bed, you most likely need a 8x10. If you have a full bed, you most likely need a 6x9. And if you have a twin bed, you most likely need a 5x7.

If you have lots of empty space in your bedroom, fill it! Add some pretty end of bed seating, if space allows. Or a chair and side table in the corner. Even a potted plant would be pretty! Don’t be afraid to push that 24” of walking space to it’s maximum here!

But most importantly: always make sure that you source the right sized nightstands for the space. If you’re typing in “nightstand” in the search bar at Target.com, I can almost guarantee you that every option is going to be anywhere from 12-24” wide. If you have a master bedroom, with a king sized bed and lots of extra wall space, you may need to find a new term for your search. Something like “cabinet” would most likely serve you well! Scale and proportion need to be your best friends when it comes to designing a space!

We’ll go back to the #aipohproject for another example of this. As you can see, theses “nightstands” are no joke!


So pin these images in a place you’ll remember! Because theses helpful guides will do wonders for your space!

Next on the agenda was something we like to call “buying to check the box.” I only had time to talk about this briefly, but basically we are all guilty. We need something for our space like a sofa or some dining chairs and out of desperate need, we just buy the firsts good looking one we see. We may have even failed to measure for it! But we definitely didn’t take into account it’s color or finish, fabric, scale, design in comparison to the other items in the room, etc. Don’t buy to check the box! Take time to source the right thing! Don’t feel bad if it takes you six months. I promise you - putting time and effort into the designs of your space will pay off!

Now let’s talk about buying generic for a second, shall we? Because, let’s be honest, if you’re shopping retail (like most of us are) we just need to be informed with what’s on the market that we NEED to stay away from.

I note: This is not to offend you if you have these things in your home right now. But only to make aware what we as designers try to stay away from when sourcing furniture for a “design-friendly home.”

Generic Sofa Styles.jpg

There are plenty of items I could have hit on for this section. But here are the ones I feel customers fall for the most. Starting with the “Generic sofa.” Above are things that classify theses sofas as looking cheap. And below are what we want instead:

Ahhhhhh. See? Much better!

This is not to say you have to spend $5,000 on a designer sofa. There are still great and affordable options like these out there! You may have to hunt and it may stretch you a little bit, but I promise you it’s worth it!

Next we chatted about finishes. What “generic” finishes are on the market and should try to stay away from at all costs. Plus their way more prettier “sister finish.” First, the espresso finish. A classic manufactured finish. Can I note that all of these are very cheap options? They are only using cheap materials and covering them up with layers of lacquer and color to hide the fact that they are poorly made and assembled. Instead, if you’re wanting a darker tone for your space, try a natural walnut wood:

See the difference? And same thing applies with the sofa! There are still amazingly wonderful options out there that are just as affordable as the bad stuff. To give you a few more contrasting examples, keep scrolling!


Natural Cherry Wood.jpg


We live in a world with endless options! Let’s do our research and discover the BEST for our homes!

Now that you have some helpful guides regarding what not to do and what to do for your space: let’s talk about the how. How do you feel confident about all your decisions before you buy them? And how do you make 100% sure they look great together? And that the space will feel cohesive and beautiful? Make a mood board!

First step: Source inspiration. Make sure you review my tips as to how to go about that!

Establish A Theme.jpg

Next, establish a theme. What style are you going for? This is going to help you pull together the rest of your decisions. Googling things like “modern dining room” is a good start if you really just don’t know how to put together your options!

Create A Color Pallette.jpg

Creating a color palette may also help you narrow your search. If you know what colors you want to incorporate in the space, it’s going to help you when it comes to selecting your final materials!

Select Software And Compile.jpg

Lastly, put it all together. Here are some helpful softwares that allow you to do just that! But I promise it’ll help to see everything laid out next to each other. Whatever it takes to feel confident about your decisions!

In my last 8 minutes of the class, I mentioned briefly what small things you can do to upgrade your space! Try them and I guarantee you will feel like Joanna Gaines came in over night to make over your home. The little things, added together, make a big difference!

Designer Look For Less.jpg

I hope theses were all helpful tips that can in turn guide you to creating a design-friendly home! And thank you to everyone who attended my Pinner’s class! For your participation and comments, I enjoyed meeting with you and helping with your own design dilemmas. That’s all for now!

Xo, Ames

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For more design tips, click HERE.