20 Design Experts Share Their Best Tips for Curating a Home You Will Love

Embello x Martha Stewart Show Home Exterior
Courtesy of Embello

Whether you're redecorating the guest bathroom or tackling a larger project in the kitchen, when it comes to designing any area of your home, figuring out a game plan can be daunting. Ultimately, there are so many decisions to make—and we're not just talking about choosing the correct color of paint or which type of drapes you'll bring in. Before you finalize plans on a makeover or source new décor, it's important to understand your personal design aesthetic and how to make choices that will help you reach your overarching goal.

No one knows how to guide you through a home decorating project—from vision to execution—better than an interior designer. For that reason, we spoke to 20 different authorities in the home design industry; they shared their best tips for curating a space that best fits your personal style. Beyond their standout talent, the creators featured in this guide have another thing in common: They are the designers behind the first-ever Living By Design showhouse produced by Embello with national media partner Martha Stewart Living. The visionaries reimagined spaces throughout a virtual 10,000 square-foot home in Bedford, New York, where Martha's primary residence is located.

As true experts in their field, these designers are some of the best creatives to turn to when ideating and wrangling your own home projects. They understand where to source inspiration, how to work on a budget, and, most importantly, how to bring an elusive vision into fruition. Ahead, these pros share their very best interior design advice that will help you make your house a home.

01 of 20

Anne Sage

bight sunny office space design
Courtesy of Anne Sage / Eslee Photography (Portrait); Monica Wang Photography (Interior)

Author and designer Anne Sage approaches each new interior project with thoughtfulness. "I'm a great listener and I love getting to know a client so well, that I can read between the lines of what they're asking for," she says. Sage, who is based in Reno, Nevada, wants homeowners working on their own projects to have these kinds of conversations and embrace the difficulty of decision making. "Don't be afraid to agonize over every choice (so long as you're still having fun, of course!)," she says, noting that her goal on every job is to "have considered every element so thoroughly, that the final result feels cohesive, dynamic, and layered." Pour your heart into the little details, Sage encourages, which will make for a stunning big picture.

02 of 20

Bobby Berk

green wallpaper bedroom
Courtesy of Bobby Bark / Luke Fontana(Portrait); Sara Tramp(Interior)

You may know him as the design guru on Netflix's Queer Eye, but Bobby Berk has been in this creative field for more than a decade. A Los Angeles-based designer and founder of his eponymous brand Bobby Berk, he makes it his mission to enhance his clients' everyday lives while simultaneously incorporating "unique design moments that celebrate individuality"—which Berk believes is possible for anyone to do on a budget. His best advice? "Being on a budget doesn't mean you can't have a beautiful space or enjoy design," he says. "The reality is that every client has a budget. Everyone is looking to economize where it makes sense, and there is no shame in making prudent decisions when it comes to the home."

03 of 20

Breegan Jane

modern bathroom interior marble walls
Courtesy of Breegan Jane / Ryan Garvin(Portrait); Via Dolce(Interior)

Breegan Jane, the CEO of Breegan Jane LLC, believes the true artistry of design is the "ability to uncover the small modifications of a space that will make a client's day-to-day life infinitely more convenient." The Los Angeles-based creative aims to bring an air of elegance to her design projects without compromising functionality. To ensure homeowners create a space that's tailored to their specific needs, Jane encourages them to lean into the bones they're given. "When designing a space, look at the existing structural features and consider if there are qualities you can work with," she says.

04 of 20

Brittany Jepsen

bathroom with green cabinets and red wallpaper
Courtesy of Brittany Jespen / The House That Lars Built(Portrait); The House That Lars Built(Interior)

Brittany Jepsen, founder of The House That Lars Built, has a penchant for color, pattern, and everything whimsical. "Life is too short to ignore the colorful things in life!" she shares. As someone who has a clear vision of her own design aesthetic, Jepsen, who is based in Provo, Utah, suggests home dwellers spend time finding their personal home style. "I'd start by making a board of your favorite things," she says. "Collect them all, then edit them down and verbalize why you like them. I find that being able to verbalize it helps you take more steps forward."

05 of 20

Christopher Brandon

exterior of modern home design backyard pool
Courtesy of Brandon Designs / Radman, Meilani Cottrell(Portrait);

For Christopher Brandon, the president and principal architect of Brandon Architects, one of the most important aspects of creating a personalized abode is making sure it fits not only the owner's lifestyle, but also its site and location. "The best designs are born out of this critical thinking," he explains. When working on your own home project, the Southern California based architect notes to look through lots of photos and categorize and sort through them—a process he asks his own clients to do. "They don't necessarily need to know what the style is that they are looking for, or even name it. It's about starting a conversation with images to make sure we're all on the same page before beginning the design process," Brandon explains.

06 of 20

Cliff Fong

open floor dining area interior
Courtesy of Ben Easter / Ben Easter(Portrait); William Abranowicz Art + Commerce(Interior)

The president and founder of Matt Blacke Inc., Cliff Fong believes a living space should reflect someone's personality and identity. When approaching a new design project, the Los Angeles-based architect aims to create something unique and special for every client he works with. Fong encourages everyone to bring that same level of authenticity to their own design projects—and says not to rush the process. "If you are not working with a designer, take it slow and live through every choice you make," he says. "Remember that there is authenticity at every price point and sometimes you need to be patient to find those pieces that suit your budget appropriately."

07 of 20

Corey Damen Jenkins

beautiful design home library interior
Courtesy of Corey Damen Jenkins / Nathan Schroeder(Portrait); Werner Straube(Interior)

Known for his tendency to layer colors, patterns, and pieces from different time periods, Corey Damen Jenkins, the principal and CEO of Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates, aims to create unexpected, inventive, and timeless spaces—all of which are key tenets to his overall design aesthetic. To achieve this on your own, peer into your closet. "Lay out your favorite pieces and [identify] what makes you feel good and excited to get dressed," Jenkins says. "Chances are, there will be a common element, such as a general style, pattern, or texture that jumps out and can be applied to your home."

08 of 20

Fernando Wong

sunny exterior view modern backyard near water
Courtesy of Fernando Wong / Carmel Brantley(Portrait); Carmel Brantley(Exterior)

Miami- and Palm Beach-based architect Fernando Wong creates stunning outdoor spaces; he relies on classic architectural principles to create landscapes that enhance the beauty of the home itself. When designing our own landscapes, Wong, founder of Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design urges us to "keep the plant selection simple" and to use colors that pair well together.

09 of 20

Kelly Finley

modern kitchen interior with red bar chairs
Courtesy of Kelly Finley / Hilary Jean(Portrait); The IT Factory(Interior)

As the CEO and creative director of Joy Street Designs, Kelly Finley curates thoughtful and creative design solutions that encourage her clients to live their best lives. Finley challenges homeowners to take a risk in their own spaces by not shying away from color. "We believe color is joy and color is culture, and we should surround ourselves with those hues that bring the most joy," says the designer, who has roots in Oakland, California, and Atlanta, Georgia.

10 of 20

Lori Paranjape

bright sunny living room interior
Courtesy of Lori Paranjape / Kristen Mayfield(Portrait); Mary Craven(Interior)

Rather than focusing on an interior's looks, Lori Paranjape, the owner and principal designer of Mrs. Paranjape Design + Interiors, leans into how the space feels. Paranjape, who is based in Nashville, Tennessee, aims to create spaces that feel clean, livable, and luxurious. She encourages those working on their own design projects to take a similar approach. If you want a bedroom—or a nursery, for that matter—to feel like a peaceful refuge, "go for neutrals and lots of soft textures," she explains. "Want a kitchen to feel vibrant and welcoming? Start with color and surfaces that make you feel happy and relaxed."

11 of 20

Marie Flanigan

large modern kitchen design with dark cabinets
Courtesy of Marie Flanigan / Julie Soefer (Portrait); Julie Soefer(Interior)

Previously a classically trained architect, Marie Flanigan, the principal director of Marie Flanigan Interiors, says she constantly draws inspiration from architecture when approaching her design projects. "My goal is to unlock a unique level of depth through the mutual consideration of interior and structure," she explains. Flanigan, who is based in Houston, Texas, urges you to start your own projects by considering a room's layout. "Think about creative, unexpected ways to make sure the function works well within the space. Then the design details can be executed accordingly," she says.

12 of 20

Mat Sanders

eclectic living room interior
Courtesy of Mat Sander / Nick Lanzisera(Portrait); enna Peffley, Reid Rolls, Daniel Collopy(Interior)

Interior designer Mat Sanders loves collaborating with his clients and helping them take risks and have fun with home design. The Los Angeles-based creator hopes that those working on their own design projects can trust their style point of view, even when working on a budget. "There is a lot of great design that's accessible—whether pieces are high end or flea market finds," he explains. "Just find something that is distinctly you and trust that your vision will come together."

13 of 20

Michel Smith Boyd

michel smith boyd interior designs
Courtesy of Michel Smith Boyd / Christopher Jamar Payne(Portrait); Allen Cooley (Interior)

Luxury is at the forefront of Michel Smith Boyd's home design aesthetic. "Luxury is my starting point, so it influences all the elements in a space—furniture from varying time periods, over-scaled art, and sumptuous fabrications are all filtered through this lens," the CEO and principal of Smith Boyd Interiors explains. While the Atlanta, Georgia-based designer appreciates opulence, he also understands the importance of practicality and he encourages people taking on their own interior projects to be honest about the way they live. "The Mongolian-covered chaise you love may be beautiful now, but it may not survive careless guests, adventurous children, or rambunctious pets if these are part of our everyday life," he explains.

14 of 20

Mikel Welch

modern interior design living room
Courtesy of Mikel Welch / John Bessler (Portrait); Carmel Brantley (Interior)

The principal designer of Mikel Welch Designs has a love for vintage-weathered objects and sleek modern design, so instead of choosing between a style, he settled on both. "When sourcing for clients, I'm typically looking for unique antique pieces with the perfect patina that look as if they were taken right from the earth," he says. "Then, I marry these weathered objects with timeless modern classics." When considering your own design aesthetic, the New York City based creator encourages you to pick up a few design magazines and tear out the photos of rooms that speak to you. "Once you have four to five strong photos, you will quickly begin to see that you have a design style that you naturally gravitate towards," he explains. "Use these images as your new guideline for your personal style. Also, it's okay to mix styles."

15 of 20

Nina Magon

modern century design sitting room interior
Courtesy of Nina Magon / Omar Ramos(Portrait); Nina Magon Studio(Interior)

Driven by a true passion for her work, Nina Magon, the principal designer and CEO of Nina Magon Studio, strives to create "forward-thinking concepts, audacious designs, and a bespoke approach." Magon, who is based in Houston, Texas, but works globally, believes paint can transform any space and is an especially useful way to upgrade your home if you're working on a budget. "A fresh coat of paint is one of the most impactful, affordable ways to update a space," she says. "A completely new and refreshed look can be achieved in a space by simply applying a new color to your walls, cabinetry, or ceiling."

16 of 20

Rajni Alex

modern design kitchen interior with
Courtesy of Rajni Alex / Adam Kane Macchia(Portrait); Rikki Snyder(Interior)

Rajni Alex, founder and principal designer of Rajni Alex Design, places an emphasis on a myriad of cultural influences when approaching new design projects. From modern to classic and timeless, the creator aims to give her clients that "wow" moment, while also reflecting their individual personalities and lifestyles back at them. "For instance, if our client has children, their home will be beautiful, but it must also be practical and functional," she explains. Alex, who is based in New York and Florida, wants homeowners to invest in what they love and never compromise on quality. "While each individual's likes and dislikes differ, if you have true appreciation for something, it will never go out of style," she says.

17 of 20

Sabrina Soto

bright sunny modern living room design
Courtesy of Sabrina Soto / Quiby (Portrait); Tessa Neustadt (Interior)

Celebrity designer Sabrina Soto believes your home should always showcase who you are. To achieve this, the Los Angeles-based creative says to look at a variety of different areas of your life for inspiration: "What are your favorite restaurants? What hotel styles do you love? Look around—your personal style is all around you!"

18 of 20

Saudah Saleem

modern design bedroom dark headboard
Courtesy of Saudah Saleem / Antar Hanif(Portrait); Michelle Claire Lorentzen(Interior)

Baltimore, Maryland-based designer Saudah Saleem believes your home should "tell the story of who you are and what you love." The founder and principal designer of Saudah Saleem Interiors says to "take your time creating and crafting that story." A good place to start? Focus on tailoring your needs and lifestyle to your home. According to Saleen, "It's important that the space truly is a reflection of you, your experiences, and passions—and that your home also fulfills your family's functional needs." Rather than opting for trends, she urges homeowners to choose items they love and that make them feel good.

19 of 20

Shea McGee

modern open floor living interior
Courtesy of Shea McGee / Lucy Call

The common thread between all of designer Shea McGee's work is that each space features a layered blend of styles and influences. The co-founder and chief creative officer of Studio McGee says her team chooses to "focus on how each space feels, looks, and lives for years to come." One area of the home that you can truly dictate the tone of is the great room or living room; McGee likes to center these spaces around conversation. "I like a full-circle experience for great rooms with overflow seating using a bench, ottomans, or small chairs by the fireplace," the Salt Lake City-based creative says. "All guests can face each other when together and the coffee table is the connecting surface to use for drinks or games."

20 of 20

Vanessa Deleon

modern dining room interior
Courtesy of Vanessa Deleon / Jesús Baez(Portrait); Alan Barry(Interior)

For Vanessa Deleon, president of Vanessa Deleon Associates, building a genuine connection with her clients is a top priority. The designer, who is based in Edgewater, New Jersey, brings her clients' visions to life by asking them a series of questions. She also asks them to "download anything and everything that inspires them into a shareable folder." The process of saving inspiration photos is one she recommends to anyone—it will help them refine their own décor aesthetic.

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