How to decorate with confidence, according to an interior design pro

It’s time to take control of that next personal project

As the housing market continues to take a hit from rising mortgage rates, many homeowners are taking down their “for sale” signs and rethinking how they can beef up their home values. Meanwhile, the holiday season is here — meaning many more homeowners are making last-minute preparations for hosting family gatherings.

In other words, it’s a good time to try interior design.

For those new to the craft, interior design may feel somewhat intimidating, but it doesn’t have to. Studio 11 Design founder Kellie Sirna is here to alleviate all of those first-time designer woes so that you can decorate with confidence this year.

Credit: Douglas Friedman

Credit: Douglas Friedman

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For many, the first step to interior design is cursory research on the internet — a spectrum of ever-changing design trends and decorating tips. Don’t get bogged down by all the trends.

“The internet can definitely appear like a very wide and deep rabbit hole when it comes to the litany of design trends out there today,” Sirna told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “One of the key ways to avoid falling into this seemingly never-ending well is to focus on what you like and what appeals to you naturally.

“When you start from what you know, you can go anywhere. It’s when we try to start from a place that isn’t truly authentic to us that makes it challenging to forge ahead. That thought may feel a bit grand when applied to design, but it holds true. When you acknowledge what your true preferences are, you’ve already started to funnel out things that can distract or shift that vision.”

Credit: Douglas Friedman

Credit: Douglas Friedman

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Finding your interior design style will likely take some experimenting. To make the most out of your experiments and build your design confidence, first focus on a few select living spaces.

“Two answers for two very different reasons come to mind,” the Studio 11 Design founder said when asked about which living spaces beginners should experiment with. “The first is when building your design confidence, especially if you’re working alone, I recommend starting with a personal space that is more private and will mainly be utilized by you. In doing this, you take out the pressure of having to create something that friends, family and whomever enters has to love or be wowed why. You can instead use this room, from a design perspective, to test out different aesthetics or accessories to see what feels true to you.

“I recommend starting small and with something personal. Rather than taking on too much or redoing the entire house, perhaps start with your personal office, or even the laundry or mudroom. The latter may sound insignificant, but these are spaces you routinely use, yet they lack the grandness and expectation of a kitchen or a living room.”

Credit: Courtesy of Thompson Savannah

Credit: Courtesy of Thompson Savannah

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Experimenting in interior design doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of ways you can take design risks without risking your savings.

“A truly inexpensive way to take a risk without endangering the bank account is to experiment with changing up room layouts, swapping furniture and accessories between rooms and redefining a room’s purpose, swapping it with another,” Sirna said. “Each of these depends upon a home’s existing layout, furnishings and accessories, but none of them require a huge investment in terms of new pieces. Instead you’re simply working with what you have, reorganizing it to create a new experience.”

If you are willing to open up your wallet, contacting a professional can go a long way to helping you find your style.

“I recommend tapping a design professional if you have the budget,” she said. “Not because you’re looking for someone to tell you what to do, but because he or she is immersed in this world and likely aware of different brands, artists and creators that you may not necessarily be. This will drastically open the door design-wise. Additionally, a professional can help ensure a cohesive design scheme. It can be easy to lose perspective when designing a home or room so having an expert to provide a point of balance is key.”