5 Design Tips from an Interior Designer

5 Design Tips from an Interior Designer


As a design-build company, Habermehl Contracting is experienced in guiding clients from home dreams to final products. Sometimes ‘selections’ – the phase of choosing your home’s products, materials, colours, and fixtures – is a tricky process. When asked what he would tell a client struggling with home selections, our Assistant Contractor, Adam Greely, said “if you have trouble making decisions, [ask] an interior designer.” So, we spoke to one of our favourite designers, Jennifer Sangster of Designer Girl Interiors. Jennifer disclosed a few of her tricks for navigating this choice-ridden process of selection.  

Per Adam’s advice, here are five tips for selections from designer, Jennifer Sangster: 


  1. Do Your Homework

Jennifer refers to the dizzying uncertainty that many clients face in designing their homes when she says, “a million choices can be paralyzing.” Her remedy to this options-induced vertigo is homework. “Look through magazines or the internet and start saving images of houses and rooms that you actually like,” Jennifer advises. If you have a partner sharing the space, have them do the same. Make a list of all the commonalities between these photos. “It starts to reveal itself from there”, she says. Jennifer adds that speaking to experts can also be an important part of this homework: anyone from an interior designer to an attendant at your flooring store. 


  1. Function First

Many clients are eager to dive into colours and textures, forgetting to pause and consider how the space will be used in daily life. “It is important never to forget about function”, Jennifer says, citing functional oversight as one of the top design mistakes she regularly sees. “If you’re too focused on all the pretty and forget about function, you’re not going to love your home.” For example, in addition to being an attractive environment, your kitchen must also service your everyday needs with logical organization and optimal efficiency. Her key to achieving this is simple: “get the function first and then make it pretty.”

  1. Save-Splurge

In discussing budgets, Jennifer says “it is important to know exactly what you want to spend so you’re only looking at what will fit into that budget.” She stresses that a budget does not mean compromising the beauty of your home. Consider her ‘save-splurge’ method: save on the features that are less important to you, so you can splurge on the pieces you love without breaking the bank! For instance, if you fall in love with a pricey tile, maybe including it in your design is a priority to you, but its quantity is less important. Consider incorporating the tile as a small backsplash, rather than a full wall. Or perhaps you find luxurious countertops that can be included by choosing more affordable light fixtures. Incorporating what you love does not mean going over budget when you prioritize with a save-splurge system. 


  1. Have Replaceable Bolds

Jennifer suggests spicing up your design with bold features that can be replaced. She suggests avoiding overly eye-catching designs in a fixed element, like stonework or flooring. “The best place to be bold is artwork, pillows, funky bowls in the kitchen… something easily changed in the future when you probably get tired of that thing.” By ensuring your room’s spotlight pops can be replaced, you ensure the room always feels fresh to you. 


  1. Find Continuity in Tone

Jennifer looks to the shades and tones of fixed elements to determine the rest of the room’s colouring. “Start by looking at flooring, then cabinetry… because those are really going to dictate what you do in that room.” For instance, warm floors and cabinets will require a warm colour for the walls. She explains that a cool-white wall behind warm-white cupboards can make cabinetry look dingy, even when it is new. By simply remaining consistent in tone, you build visual continuity in even the most diversely coloured rooms!  


At Habermehl Contracting, our priority is to help bring your dream space to life. To achieve this, we often collaborate with interior designers, like Jennifer Sangster.  The building or renovating of a home requires a crew of experts, each bringing unique skills and experience to perfect your home: from architecture and design to carpentry and project management. As Jennifer says, “It takes a team to pull these things together.” Contact us today to discuss your design-build-renovate needs; we would love to hear from you.


 – Rachel Habermehl,  August 18, 2022

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