Instant Dream Home — A Paint-by-Numbers Interior Design Guide


Imagine the possibilities …

That’s what interior designer, design coach and mentor, and author Darcy Kempton encourages her readers to do in her easy-to-follow book, Instant Dream Home — A Paint-by-Numbers Interior Design Guide. But painting by numbers doesn’t necessarily mean staying within the lines when designing your dream home.

“If you can dream it, then it’s possible,” writes Darcy, who admits to making just about every decorating mistake in the book. That’s why her guide is so great; she’s made the mistakes and missteps, so you don’t have to. In this hands-on, interactive workbook, she steers you along the same roadmap she uses for every project she undertakes in her own highly successful interior design business to help you avoid the detours and often costly consequences of a design disaster.

In her own engaging, conversational style, Darcy emboldens readers with encouragement to create a home you, your family and guests will love. Packed with inspirational before and afters, name- (and jaw) dropping client case studies, expert tips on where to splurge and how to save, and other pro “secrets,” she walks you through a simple, three-step process to interior decorating success, giving you all the tools you need along the way to implement the design of your dreams, whatever your budget.

Darcy’s in the houzz

Step 1: Define your style. Darcy gets you started with a 10-question evaluation form, priming the process with questions like, how would you describe your home as it is today? What drives you crazy about your house now? How long do you plan to be in your home? Then it’s on to the fun part — finding inspiration to develop your style. As she does with clients, Darcy starts by referring readers to peruse, with questions and photographs to guide them through the site and help them zero in on what they like. Ground zero for any design, she says, is finding that “Almighty Inspiration Piece” (she even leaves a space on the page where you can paste a picture of it).

Step 2: Translating your inspiration into a well-defined design plan. Here Darcy breaks down the seemingly daunting design planning process into a few key elements: a sensible floorplan, a cohesive design scheme and a smart budget. She gives easy to read expert guidance on deciding what to keep, scaling design elements to fit and focusing on a focal point, as well as her Top 10 “Must Haves” to help you build a room design from the ground up. This chapter also includes hands-on tools like an inventory list and grids for sketching out furniture placement, places to paste your color palette, and a sample budget work sheet.

Step 3: Take action! In this chapter, Darcy helps you take your plans on paper to reality by learning to embrace your strengths and hire your weaknesses. (Great advice!) She includes a simple DIY assessment survey to decide what you can tackle on your own and where you might want to hire a pro.

Inspired to create a simply stunning space of your own? Get your copy of Instant Dream Home here, or get to know Darcy better at

Book Review – Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating by Lauren Liess


If you’re looking for an in-depth look at decorating and decorating-related terms, this is the perfect book for you. This book dives deep into decorating problems that you didn’t even know you had, and then it offers beautiful solutions to those problems.

Liess starts off the entire book with this beautiful quote by William Morris that sets the tone for the entire book:

“Every work of man which has beauty in it must have some meaning also; that the presence of any beauty in a piece of handicraft implies that the mind of the man who made it was more or less excited at the time, was lifted somewhat above the commonplace; that he had something to communicate to his fellows which they did not know of feel before, and which they would never have known or felt if he had not been there to force them to it.”

The Idea Behind the Book

The book’s format is based on a traditional field guide, which is an interesting take. The author talks about her own field guide she created as a child, documenting all the plant life near her home. She soon discovered that a field guide doesn’t just have to be about flora and fauna. The same concept could be applied toward decorating your home. This book is a great resource for those new to the decorating world and those who are a bit more experienced. After all, who doesn’t love a new decorating idea now and then?

Perhaps some of the definitions aren’t needed, as most people know what “color” is or what a “window” is, but I understand that it’s there for the sake of consistency.


Here are some of my favorite ideas from this book:


Determining the Focal Point

Before you even start decorating, you should be able to identify the focal point of the room. For some spaces, it’s in the architectural details, like a fireplace or a large set of windows that look out to an amazing view. These are natural focal points. However, some rooms don’t have one already built into the space. If this is the case, you have to determine with that focal point will be. Liess believes that “rooms are most striking when they have a strong focal point” (25).

Window Coverings (of course!)

How can I write a book review without mentioning the chapter all about window coverings? She provides a comprehensive guide to the benefits of each type of window covering, including roman shades, shutters, and wooden blinds. I loved seeing a designer’s take on the best window coverings. It provides a new perspective, one that’s backed by experience.

Beautiful Everyday Items

This section is all about finding beautiful everyday items, like cookware, cutting boards, or dishes. Things can be both practical and beautiful, so why not make them both?

The Truth of Emotion & Authentic Decorating

The best art was a truthfulness and emotion to it. That’s where the beauty comes from. That’s how you decorate authentically. Find artwork that speaks to you on a deep level. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, and don’t be afraid to let the artwork in your home reflect you.

Decorating with Confidence

What it all comes down to is confidence. There are accepted decorating rules, but the only thing that really matters is that your home makes you happy. Be confident in your decisions. As long as you’re happy, who cares what anyone else thinks.


Have you read this book yet? What did you think?


Book Review – Lovable Livable Home by Sherry and John Petersik (Young House Love)


If you haven’t stumbled upon the Young House Love blog, you’re missing out. They have fantastic before-and-afters, not to mention all the DIY tips and gorgeous photos of their homes.

So, when I had the opportunity to read and review their book, Lovable Livable Home, I just couldn’t resist. This book has a casual, fun, friendly vibe, which makes it easy to read and even easier to apply their ideas. Most of what they showcase is simple and budget-friendly, which makes this book a great option for everyone. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • It’s common to decorate a room with form and function in mind. We worry about how something works and how it looks. But there’s something missing in that equation. It’s finding meaning. The Petersiks recommend asking yourself what these objects mean to you and how do they make you feel. If you can find meaning along with form and function, you will feel at home and comfortable no matter what.
  • The perfect mix in any room is color, pattern, and texture. Sometimes if your room feels a little off, you’re missing one of these elements.
  • Childproofing isn’t the same as making your space kid-friendly. If kids live your home, your space should be inviting to everyone in the family, including the kids. Same goes with pets.
  • This one is a personal favorite – decorating with books. They’re easy to get and even easier to decorate with. They add charm and personality to any space.
  • Does your home feel a little too small for your family? You’re not alone. One family used their covered deck to extend the homey vibe, making their porch have a living room vibe.
  • If you have children, you know how much artwork they create. Chances are you have boxes of artwork in your attic, garage, or under the beds. The Petersiks give fantastic advice how to enjoy and use your kid’s art, including ironing it onto pillows or using it to create a bigger piece of art. It can be a great way to add more color and fun to your home’s decor.

Have you read this book? What was your favorite idea?

Book Review – Space Planning by Layla Palmer


Title: Space Planning

Author: Layla Palmer

Format: PDF e-book


This is an easy-to-understood book that takes the reader through the basics of space planning and how it pertains to decorating your house. The best part were the graphs, charts, and visuals she created to show how easy it can be.

Layla Palmer discusses how space planning can actually help you become happier and more successful in life. What an interesting concept! When your home is in order, you life will soon follow.

While she discusses the emotional benefits of space planning, Palmer also provides applicable, relevant information on how you can space plan in your own home. To start, she suggests starting from above. It helps you visualize the room better and gives you a better view of the space you’re working with, including traffic patterns, windows, and even wall outlets. The graphs and charts she provides even can help you determine the room’s true focal point, and that’s where the real decorating begins.

Palmer also recommends space planning even before buying any furniture. These helpful tips and tricks will give you the basic knowledge you need to adequately plan your space correctly and create the feel and vibe you’ve always wanted.

And you know what? It’s free!

Have you read it? What did you think?