Ready For a Quick Makeover

The new “makeover” shows are starting their new season on TV, and maybe you’re thinking about your own make-over…of your home.

This is the perfect time of year to freshen up your interior before holiday entertaining and staying inside during cold and snowy days arrive.

Here are five quick tips to transform your interior:
1. Paint your interior with a new accent wall color. If you’ve been living with white or             beige walls, it’s time to add color to your home. Your family will love it and so will you.          Here are three great colors you can use on one wall as the accent wall. Pick the 1st or        2nd wall you see upon entering the room for this paint color. Coordinate the other 3           walls to the new accent color in an off white family color.

Choose One Accent Wall Color for One Wall by Farrow & Ball

image(7) 2.  Add new accessories.  Pillows, vases lamps and small accessories can add     punches of color without breaking the bank.  Here are some fun options from Pier     One Imports that add interest to your otherwise safe neutral furniture.

Pier One Platter                          Accent Throw Pillows Pier One           Pier One Floor Vase



3. Reupholster a few pieces of furniture like side chairs or an ottoman.  Add     pattern to your interior in a small piece of furniture.  Your punch of color doesn’t     have to be limited to pillows and accessories.  My favorite quick fix source for     giving sofas a new look is SureFit slipcover.

SureFit Stretch Suede Slipcover in Luggage Colorway


4.  Add a new rug.  Rugs provide more than something comfortable to your space     – they can add texture and drama.  Here is one of my favorites for this season:

Flambe Area Rug through Home Decorators Collection

Colors5.  Rehang your artwork.  You don’t have to spend a penny to move your artwork     from one room to another.  Try grouping photos together and create and interesting collage, or take a piece of art from your dining room, and hang it in your living room and use that as a jumping off point for a dramatic color change for your home.

Artwork Grouping


We are experts at hanging art, selecting paint palettes, and creating exciting interiors with accessories and fabrics.  Give us a call by October 25th to get one contrasting paint selection with your investment in a Fall Makeover Package.  Call 773-234-6515 or email to find out more about how you can transform your home for the holidays; just two months away!

We look forward to helping you create new memories at home!

Warm wishes,

Maura Braun

Options for Calls to Action:

Complimentary dining room paint selection with a Fall Makeover Package.  Values at $250.00.  Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors.  Forward  our newsletter to your friends and neighbors, and be entered in a drawing for The Fall Makeover Package valued at $500.00.  We’ll select a winner on October 25th.

We always appreciate your generous referrals and we offer a Super referral gift in return.


What Does Home Mean To You?

You may think that as designers, we spend the majority of our time working on the interiors of our client’s homes, but what we really do is help you express what is inside of you – your values, dreams and aspirations.  We work with your “interior feelings” and express them visually.

What we do is very personal, and might feel a little odd at first when we ask a lot of questions.  When we understand what home really means to you, we can help you create a real representation of that inner desire.

Maybe you love to cook and you watch the Food Network when you’re chopping and dicing.  Do you enjoy creating masterpieces and getting “oohs and ahhs” from your family and friends?


Couple in Kitchen

 The saying that the kitchen is “the heart of the home” is so true.  Everyone seems to end up there during parties.  It is that casual and comfortable place where you can laugh, chat and enjoy the intimate relationships with your kids and the people that are important to you.

MDO PhotoDune Ladies in Kitchen

Does home mean “sanctuary” to you?  Is it where you escape from the daily pressures of car pool, a stressful executive job or endless tasks and errands?  Where is that sanctuary spot in your home?  Do you have a separate office, a spa-like bathroom, a man cave, a meditation & massage, or a craft room?

Tatami roominterior beauty center, bathroom

If you don’t, then take some time to create a wish list of what you’d like to have within your home to help you manage your daily stress.  What financial resources can you set aside or allocate for your project in the near future?  Come up with a number that you are willing to invest for your peace of mind.

MDO PhotoDune Budget

One or two weeks a year of vacation rarely gives us enough time to rejuvenate especially if we’re organizing the kid’s activities and making sure all of the details are arranged so everyone has a great time.  What if you allocated that trip money to a renovation so you could enjoy a staycation every day?

MDO PhotoDune Lady in TubCall or email us/me if you are interested in creating your staycation sanctuary.  We’ll include the candles and champagne when you are ready to renovate your space.

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors.  Forward to your friends and neighbors, and be entered in a drawing for a Starbucks gift card valued at $25.00.  We’ll select a winner on September 30th.

We always appreciate your generous referrals.

Warm wishes,

Maura Braun


Three Steps to an Organized Student

A student desk made from two file cabinets

Any student will be more productive here!

The beginning of a new school year may bring smiles to parents’ faces, but also presents a good opportunity to do a quick makeover of a child’s room in order to foster better study habits.  Having a dedicated, organized space for homework, reading or even craft projects can help students of any age focus better. But it doesn’t have to be an expensive or extremely disruptive project.  Maura Braun believes that a messy desk prevents the mind from feeling at ease. The eyes travel straight to the mess and the mind feels defeated from the start. Cleaning out the clutter and organizing the workspace can put the mind at rest, allowing it to tackle the task at hand. 

Here are three simple things that can be done to accomplish an efficient workspace:

1.       Get rid of the small desk.  Most student desks provide little in the way of open space.  Building a “custom” desk by repurposing a couple of two-drawer filing cabinets and an inexpensive piece of laminate countertop (or even a hollow core door) can give a large open space for homework or other projects.  The cabinets provide plenty of space for folders and papers. Small boxes can further organize the drawers. (Using two inexpensive nightstands and a smaller chair will create the perfect space for the younger set.  As they grow, the nightstands can be changed out for the filing cabinets.) 

2.       Add a magnetic and/or cork bulletin board above the desk.  Having a place to post notes, assignments photos and awards can take a lot of clutter off the desk and help keep things organized.

3.       Hang a sturdy hook or shelf next to the desk for backpacks.  Encouraging children to put their backpacks next to their desks (instead of on the foyer floor) not only helps them organize themselves for homework, but will keep the living space of the home much tidier.

Finally, make sure the area is well-lit with the appropriate task lighting.  Once the components are in place, the child can accessorize the space with desk accessories at your local container store or home goods store. Allowing them to add a little of their personality to the space will go a long way towards making the space both functional and appealing to any student. 

The Forgotten Plane

When most people think of decorating, they budget for flooring, furnishings, wall
finishes, window treatments and accessories. One “plane” that is overlooked is the
ceiling, so today, we’ll explore options for “completing” your project with ceiling
treatments that can improve the functionality and the beauty of your space.

Photo courtesy of Full Circle

When adding moldings and elevation variations, you create visual interest to your room.
It can even create the illusion of more space and higher ceilings depending on the
treatment you apply.

Photo courtesy of Swift Life Achiever   Photo courtesy of Benjamin

Or, you can create a feeling of intimacy and drama in a dining room or even a small
powder room with darker colors. It is often best to stay with “flat” vs. shiny paint
finishes because the surface imperfections are more visible on the ceiling vs. your walls.

Photo courtesy of Benjamin  Photo courtesy of Benjamin

White is the safest choice for ceiling colors, but it lacks inspiration and creativity. Even if
you did not change any other design element in your room, just adding a
complementary color to your ceiling will transform your space.

Recessed lights are extremely common in today’s interiors, but they create challenges
for effectively lighting a space. When you add indirect lighting on dimmers, it will
significantly improve the ambiance of your room. If you are entertaining, it will create a
mood and softness that will enhance your social gatherings, and will even change your
family’s perception of the warmth and coziness of your home.

Photo courtesy of

Call or email us if you are interested in “designing” your ceiling and creating drama
and intrigue in your home. Fall is the perfect time to make this one simple change and
transform your space.

Options for Calls to Action:
A ceiling paint selection with a lighting design package for one room, valued at $750.00, will be offered through August at 50% off for $375.00.

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors.

Forward our newsletter to your friends and neighbors, and be entered into a drawing for a complimentary ceiling paint selection with a lighting design package for one
room valued at $750.00.

We’ll select a winner on September 1st.

We always appreciate your generous referrals.

Warm wishes,

Maura Braun



Cool Designs for Scorching Hot Summer

With temperatures over 100 degrees in many areas of the country, many homeowners are moving inside to enjoy cool air conditioning during the day, and they are waiting to host casual dinner parties Al Fresco once the sun has set.

If you enjoy backyard barbecues, this is a great time of year to do a minor renovation on your kitchen and family room to get ready for the holiday season. I know it sounds crazy to talk about the holidays, but we’re half way through the year, and once July 4th passes, it will be time to get the kids ready for school. Before you know it, you’ll be planning your holiday parties and buying gifts.

There is still plenty of time through early fall to cook outdoors and enjoy the adventure of revamping your kitchen’s function of aesthetics, so if you’re considering a minor refresh, or major overhaul, here are some great cabinet styles you might consider.

Kitchen Cabinetry Styles:

Transitional:                                             Contemporary:                       Traditional:


This year, we are seeing clean lines and minimal details in kitchens.  The real key is to design the kitchen for easy maintenance and timeless design.  Here are a few examples of “Before” and “After” photos from one of our recent projects.

Full gut and remodeling projects take careful planning.  If you’re ready for a completely new kitchen, we recommend making a list of your priorities like appliances, lighting, cabinets, glass backsplash, etc.  Take a look at where we started with our third project.

This project took 6 months of planning, and 6 months of construction from start to finish.  My favorite feature includes shutter that slide across the ceiling to close off the kitchen from dining room.  Which are your favorite features?  By the way, that’s a great question
to ask your spouse or friends to get your design project in motion.

Before                                                      After

Golden Kitchen Before 001




Especially if you are planning to enlarge your kitchen, engaging the services of a design professional will ensure that your results are spectacular and that your investment is
carefully considered.  We have time for 2 more kitchen projects this summer, so if you’re ready to enjoy more back yard barbecues before summer ends, contact us at or (773)-234-6515, by August 8th to schedule an initial consultation.

Don’t wait too long – summer will be over before you know it!

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors.  Please forward our newsletter to your friends and neighbors, and be entered into a drawing for Omaha Steaks or other premium barbecue products like tools valued at $250.00.  We’ll select a winner on August 8th.

Options for Calls to Action:

If you’re ready to “Do It Yourself With Help,” be sure to email me to find out about our design coaching program.  If you love the idea of being your own designer and need advice from a professional to avoid making costly mistakes, we review your selections and help you create a design solution that incorporates your vision.

We always appreciate your generous referrals.

Happy Summer!

Maura Braun

June 2013


June 2013 Done-For-You Newsletter Article
10 Reasons Why Interior Design Matters

The design of your space matters for more than its visual triggers and function.

What do I mean by that? Have you ever walked into a restaurant or retail space and felt “cold?” Perhaps the decor was stark and minimalist, and yet your personal preference is to be in spaces that feel warm and cozy. Your feelings about any space are directly related to the interior design and how it is executed.

1. A well-designed space functions with ease. An example would be a kitchen where two cooks can function without getting in each other’s way. The distance between an island and perimeter countertop as well as the location of appliances can help both cooks work comfortably.

2. Colors that are carefully selected evoke a mood, provide a backdrop for art and people, and create interest and drama.

Coleman Dining Room 001

3.  Installing energy efficient appliances and lighting can cut the cost of your utility bills   so you can invest in other things that matter more like your children’s activities.

4. Selecting green, sustainable or recycled materials protects the planet by ensuring that forests aren’t stripped for profit all while providing function and form for your space.

5. Using low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) materials can impact your family’s health. Avoiding formaldehyde in glues used in building materials, and chemicals in paint can protect from lung irritation especially for people with asthma.

6. Flooring materials in bathrooms or entries are selected to minimize injuries due to slips and falls.

Proctor Powder Room 001

7. Lighting provides task illumination when reading or putting on makeup, but can also add ambiance when entertaining, or can help with way finding in buildings during a fire or an emergency.

8. Perhaps a family member is aging or physically challenged. Interior design can make spaces accessible so your mother or father can function and maintain dignity as they become less able to take care of their daily needs.

9. If you have a stressful job, your home is your haven, so having integrated speakers that don’t distract from your interior can add a soothing sound to help you unwind after a busy day.

10. Creating a home spa so you and your spouse can escape from the chaos of screaming kids to re-engage with each other and relax is a necessity for many people today.

Home Spa Image(Photo courtesy of Pearl Tubs)

These are just a few of the reasons that the interior design of your space is important.

I will be hosting a How to Design Your Perfect Interior workshop webinar on July 17th, 2013. Email me at to register for this free event. For $14.00, you will receive a How to Design Your Perfect Interior workbook that you can use to organize your project. Contact me to order your workbook.

Email a photo of your design challenge and you may be selected to receive a 1 hour Laser Design Consultation during the workshop valued at $200.00

Option for calls to Action:

If you’re ready to “Do It Yourself with Help,” be sure to email me to find out about our design coaching program. If you love the idea of being your own designer and need advice from a professional to avoid making costly mistakes, we provide guidance throughout the course of the project and help you create a design solution that incorporates your vision. Be sure to call me by July 15th, 2013 for a complimentary consultation to determine if I am the best person to assist you.

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors. Forward our newsletter to your friends and neighbors, and be entered in a drawing for a 1 hour interior design consultation valued at $200.00. We’ll select a winner on July 20th, 2013.

Maura Braun

Good Interior Design may be the Key to Great Outdoor Spaces

Interior Design for outdoor roomsChicago’s snowy, frigid and windy winters are legendary, which may be the reason that so many of our hardy Midwesterners want to spend every possible moment outdoors when the weather cooperates. And we are not alone.  One of the fastest growing trends throughout the country is to expand our homes with outdoor “rooms.”  These are not our parents’ simple patios with a lawn chair or two and a Weber grill, but comfortable outdoor oases.

With some cable companies offering wireless connections and the availability of weatherproof televisions, along with the increasing popularity of outdoor kitchens, as well as the fireplaces and heaters that make the outdoors comfortable even on chilly evenings, there may be no reason to spend any time indoors at all!

Interior Design rules for outdoor spacesHowever, in order to accomplish the perfect outdoor room, planning is critical. The size of the “room” and its function must be considered – will it be used for cooking, entertaining and family fun or will it be a quiet retreat for relaxing, reading and meditating. Also, in order to make the space as beautiful, functional and inviting as possible, it should be a natural extension of the home’s interior design.  The furnishings should also complement the exterior of the home, taking into consideration the color and style of the house itself.  Furniture should also be carefully chosen for design and function. Frames, upholstery and materials used for rugs and awnings should be chosen for their ability to withstand the elements, dry quickly and resist fading.

Interior Design works for Outdoor Spaces

Given the above considerations, an “interior” designer may be the best “first stop” when thinking of creating the perfect outdoor space. At, we love the outdoors and can help you plan your perfect outdoor retreat. Call us today – before the winter winds blow again.

May Flowers and Spring Entertaining

Now that spring is here, it is the perfect time to consider freshening up your interior with the new grayed floral colors that are easy to incorporate with your current furnishings.

DSU May Newsletter photo #1 - grayed floral-1

DSU May Newsletter photo #1b - grayed floral-1

DSU May Newsletter photo #1c - grayed floral-1

DSU May Newsletter photo #1d - grayed floral-1

The 2013 fashion color palette by Pantone shows that “grayed” floral colors are hot. You can incorporate the colors from your garden inside your home to connect the spaces visually.

If you are hosting parties for graduates, or planning to entertain frequently you can easily use your interior colors to unify your inside and outside spaces.

Today’s exterior fabrics, rugs and furniture look as if they could be used inside your home and can extend the feeling of comfort to your outdoor living area. Pictures below is part of the Martha Steward Living Outdoor through Home Decorators Collection.

DSU May Newsletter photo #2 - exterior furnishings-1

If your interior space is sleep and sophisticated, or rustic and relaxed, you want to stay consistent with that style for your furnishings and fixtures.

Here is a bathroom remodel we completed, showing the before, during and after.

BEFORE                                              DURING                                       AFTER


Options for Calls to Action:

Send us your outside space “before” photo to be entered in a drawing.
You’ll receive a two hour “Father’s Day” consultation valued at $400.00. Deadline is June 10th.
We’ll post the three finalists in the next newsletter (or on Facebook) and then you and your friends and family can vote on the room that will receive the consultation.

Don’t forget to share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors. Forward our newsletter to your friends and neighbors, and when they become a client, you will receive a $25 gift certificate to the restaurant or spa.

We always appreciate your generous referrals.

Happy Spring!

Maura Braun

Time for a Spring Makeover

MDO breakfast areaIt’s Spring!  Is it time to spruce up your home, and do more than simple “spring cleaning?”  Is there a room in your house that you hate to enter?  A space that just doesn’t fit with your current design style?  Are you embarrassed to have people over to your drab home?

It might be time to do more than simple spring cleaning.  Updating a room in your house could be the perfect solution to the end-of-winter blahs, making you feel happier and more energized during the spring and summer months … and beyond.

Imagine getting the room of your dreams with no mistakes, no wasted time and no wasted money. Imagine avoiding the purchase of items that just “don’t work” in the space as you thought they would.  Imagine working with a top-tier interior designer without having to meet in person each week … and at a fraction of the cost the designer normally charges

An online interior design service like could be your best and most economical option.  You will be in control, and will do almost everything from the convenience of your computer keyboard.  After an optional first meeting, you can upload a video of the room through a video-sharing site like Krowds, and meet via Skype or phone as needed.  The designer will provide you with a complete room plan with color and material options, and advice about where to purchase the items online, often at discounted prices. Once you have agreed to the design plan and purchase the items, you will be able to follow the plan and put the room together, giving you the sense of pride and achievement that comes with doing it yourself.  You might even decide to host that Memorial Day party you have been thinking about.

Online design service like works with you to help you realize your unique style – on your timeline, within your budget.  Just decide on the room you want to start with, the style you like, the colors you prefer, and fill out a simple questionnaire.  You will be on your way to your perfect space

Interior Design Options for Busy People

Interior Designers save timeWhile this quote from Steve Jobs may have had a slightly different meaning in this article’s context, it is worth remembering that we all have busy lives, filled with things we must get done, often leaving little time for those things that would bring us joy and comfort, like spending time with family, reading a good book, or just relaxing at home, enjoying the ambience.

However, for many of us, our homes are not the peaceful and beautiful oases that we might wish for. But who has the time or money for a sweeping interior design makeover?

The good news is that advances in technology have given rise to internet-based services that fit the time and budget constraints of almost any homeowner in even the most rural areas.

For those who desire a D.I.Y. option, Design Coaching may be the best solution.  This option provides one-on-one weekly meetings (virtual via phone, Skype or in person) to help keep the design project moving forward.  Although homeowners shop and source their new treasures, decisions on materials, furnishings and accessories can be discussed in the weekly sessions, often avoiding costly and time-consuming mistakes.

For those who want a more traditional interior design service, the design construction option may work. This type of service offers a custom-designed solution.  Detailed drawings and specifications, coupled with a dependable team of trade resources and furniture and accessory outlets are provided to assure proper execution of the plan. Online services provide 24/7 accessibility to the design plans, offering a flexible timeline for completion.

For busy homeowners, the message is, “Your time is limited,” and should not be wasted trying to accomplish the projects that can be done better and more quickly by a professional.  Interior designers understand what makes good design. They are aware of the materials, furniture and accessories available – and where to find them. They can interview a homeowner to discover both the style and function needed in each situation – and then deliver the perfect plan.