Part VIII - How to Choose the Right Furniture for Your Home

Photo courtesy of

If I asked you  ''What is the hardest thing to choose when you decorate a home?" would you say "paint color"? Many would agree that picking the right paint color is tough to get right. However in my experience, it's furniture selection can be problematic and challenging.

The challenge starts with the overwhelming variety of shapes, sizes, and price points for every type of furniture whether seating, tables or occasional pieces. But the choice is easier when you know the following bits of information, before you head out to your local furniture store:

  • Know what size of furniture will fit in the room. Have a floorplan drawn to scale to discover what size of sofa or table will fit, without crowding a traffic zone.
  • Determine how much seating you need on a daily basis and what you need for entertaining.
  • Decide on what style of furniture suits your lifestyle and taste today. Country French may have been a favorite ten years ago, but your present lifestyle may call for a leaner and more contemporary look.
  • List all the pieces you need and specify a budget for each piece.
  • Create a folder of furniture styles that appeal to you to refer to when you go shopping. A picture is always worth a thousand words.
  • Spend more time than you planned to find furniture. Don't settle because you can't find a certain piece right away. It's there - you just have to find it!
  • Let a professional interior designer help you if you are crunched for time. They have the resources to find what you need quickly, saving you time and money in the long run.
Just as you leave construction to the builder, it might make more sense to leave the decorating to professionals. Decorating isn't just fluff. It's making your home not only beautiful, but comfortable and ageless for years to come.

M. A. Smith, Ltd.
Interior Design
732 690-2030
Allied Member ASID
Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York

Even Tired Looking Rooms Need a Facelift


Where do you start when you want to change the look of a room? It can be a simple task for some. But if you're like most, you'll feel better about planning the first step in decorating, when you have a goal in mind. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

1. If you have a time limit-
  • Plan on finding furniture that is readily available in stores in your area
  • Use ready made drapes that can be shortened to size or add trim to the leading edge to customize its look
  • Use paint to make a statement (paint a focal wall in a darker color) as opposed to adding beadboard panelling or mouldings
  • To have a finished look, dedicate a weekend to finish the job including hanging artwork, adding accessories to a cocktail table, etc.

2. If you have a budget limit- 
  • Determine the maximum amount you can spend on decorating
  • Spend the most on either focal point areas or new seating
  • Do as much as you can yourself
  • Find ways to get the same look you saw in a magazine with a less costly application. For instance, if you like the look of a large stripe wallpaper on entry walls - you can get a similar look by painting stripes instead. 
3. If the project includes construction-
  • Use the services of an interior designer to do a floorplan showing furniture placement in a room. An architect's floorplan is the foundation to make your project work. But, know where your furniture will fit before you hire your contractor. Changes later on can be costly.
  • Make sure you have a vision for how the room will look finished. You can tear pages of rooms you like and make a concept folder or use and/or hire a designer to do the work for you.
  • Get everyone involved (architect, designer, contractor, tradespeople) on the 'same page'. If one of the team is difficult to communicate with, it will only slow down the process later for the others involved.
  • Invest in items that have the longest life or get the most use. For instance, appliances, dining room furniture, flooring - know how they will hold up to constant use. 
  • Lastly, life changes, kids grow up, people retire. Plan your home for those changes, not only for the present. For instance, can the Dining Room be changed into a home office or additional bedroom for visiting family or friends? 

Goals are the first step. Next make a plan. Nothing happens until you commit yourself to diving in to bring your dreams to life!

For professional help with your project, call:

M. A. Smith, Ltd. Interior Design
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
732 690-2030


Allied Member ASID
Blog: HouseZenGarden
Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City

Why You Should take Time to Think Through your new Kitchen's design to get the Kitchen of your Dreams


Answer: Because that's the only way to get the kitchen you really want!

Photo courtesy of HGTV

A few years ago I worked with a new client on the redesign of their kitchen. However, on my first visit to their home, I noticed that their existing kitchen looked rather new. Why would they plan to change their few years old existing kitchen? 

What happened to make them want to go through changing and investing in another new kitchen? Simply put, poor planning and design made their kitchen inefficient and uncomfortable in the preparation of daily meals.

However, at the end of our new re-design, their kitchen has the open, spacious and efficient layout that their lifestyle demands. This time I made sure there was in-depth discussion on everything involved in the remodel.

From countertop selection and height to appliance selection, from range placement to range hood style, flooring and more. We covered it all and discussed every detail to get it right this time.

Simply put, an investment in time will insure the best results in your remodeling investment. Whether choosing paint colors, rug style, drapery or bigger projects like kitchen and bath remodeling, do the research, communicate your wish list and make sure everyone understands your ultimate goals.

Do You Feel Anxious About How Long It Might Take to Decorate Your Home?

What To Do if You Feel Anxious

About How Long It Takes To Decorate Your Home

Does the idea of starting a decorating project or renovation make you feel queasy and unsettled? Often just the thought that decorating takes too long is the thing that keeps you from moving forward. But there are some things to consider to alleviate your angst and get your home design project going fast at last!
If lack of time is your problem the solution is to have a plan that works, fits your budget and calendar goals.
For instance, last year I helped a family decorate their Jersey Shore home within a months' time. The whole job had to be done by the 4th of July and I had one month to complete the job!
While the family had some usable furniture, the home needed new paint colors, sofas, tables, bedding, rugs, artwork and prints for walls to give it the look they wanted. After meeting with the family, discussing their wish list and budget, I set out to find the pieces that would give their home the 'Jersey Shore' vibe without looking trendy or 'sea-shelly'.
The beauty of how I can manage a challenge like this project is in the way I am able to email photos of furnishings I find in an emailable file. My clients can review the file at the end of the day, so we can discuss the pieces that most appeal to them. Along with the photos is information showing dimensions and price points for each suggested furnishing organized by rooms. 
This way, my clients are involved in reviewing my suggestions so they can make the right decision, without the hassle of spending hours shopping for furnishings or in endless meetings with a designer.
Because they enjoyed the use of my years of experience and expertise, their home was decorated not only to reflect their personal taste, but was ready in time for the summer and also had the special attention to detail that comes with a designer's artistic eye for detail.
Fast Track Interior Design - The interior design system that gets your project to goal

M. A. Smith, Ltd. Interior Design
1288 Beauchamps Place, Toms River, NJ 08753
732 690-2030


Allied Member ASID
Blog: HouseZenGarden
Serving New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City


From Rubble to Raves - Restoring Homes Devastated By Hurricane Sandy

Photo taken at Shutters, Little Silver, NJ

From Rubble to Raves -  Restoring the Home Will Bring Back the Feeling that "Life is Better at the Beach" 

If you look closely at the photo above, there is a backward reflection of a sign that reads "Life is Better at the Beach." Well, while that may often be true, right now beach homes here in New Jersey are grasping to regain a shore footing.
Walls are gone or bare of sheetrock and insulation.  Floors are ripped of plank flooring and rooms are void of the history of decades of summer. The homes of the Jersey Shore are waiting to be reborn.
The process of remodeling is not pretty. It's grunt work - work for the trades and the contractors. But at some point, the view will change and the emphasis will be on how the home will look once its finished. Once finished, friends will rave at the beauty of the remodeled home along the Jersey Shore or the banks of Long Island.
The excitement will start when finally the sheetrock is installed. Suddenly, the homeowner will feel a need to make decisions on wall color, furnishings, window treatments and lighting. A feeling of excitement and a crave to decorate will take over their lives. Instead of looking back, Jersey Shore and Long Island homeowners will be looking forward to their homes at the shore.
A week after the hurricane, like many homeowners, I also thought I was finished. My clients for the most part have lovely homes along the Jersey Shore and Long Island Sound. Projects stopped in mid-stream. Prospects for future work dried up, their homes were severely damaged or gone.
The rebirth of the New Jersey and New York beaches will take time, but with each day another house is close to becoming a home again. Every week will bring us all closer to that place and time where we know that life is better at the beach.