My Favorite DARK Paint Colors

DARK paint colors scare a lot of people. Typical concerns you get from clients sound something like:

  • “Will dark paint colors make the room look smaller?”
  • “Will dark paint will feel depressing?”
  • “Aren’t dark paint colors are harder to live with?”
  • Overall the answer is NO, here are some examples as to why, photos to prove it, and my list of my favorite dark / neutral paint colors to use in your own projects!

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Home Tour with Room for Tuesday Blogger Sarah Gibson

Last winter, while traveling to an influencer event in Minneapolis I had the good fortune of meeting Sarah Gibson of Room for Tuesday. (Between you and me, I totally knew who Sarah was and had recently followed her amazing home decor blog!) But I played it cool, and we became fast friends bonding over our own home renovations and handy husbands. Sarah had already renovated her OHIO HOME, but more recently moved to Utah and is starting the renovation process all over again.

She has made a ton of progress already with her husband Emmett and their fur babies, finishing the master bedroom, living room, guest room and backyard. We decide to TRADE HOME TOURS, and share the home reno inspiration! We are both currently living in a construction zone as we try and finish up our homes, and looking at these pretty pictures is a good reminder that putting in the hard work is WORTH IT for a home you truly love.

Here’s the gorgeous tour!

Welcome to the Gibson home, love that we both have black doors — must be a designer thing!

You walk in and POW! This stunning built-in hits you front and center. I love that Sarah was not afraid to use color and she picked a stunning stone for the fireplace. Learn more about the STONE and choosing a perfect GREEN paint on Sarah’s blog.

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Design School: Logan Killen Interiors

September 18, 2017 Interior Design, Interviews 0 Comments

Thanks for tuning back in for our second Design School interview! I’m thrilled to have the New Orleans duo, Katie Logan LeBlanc and Jensen Killen, Logan Killen Interiors here today. I have a serious #ladycrush on LKI and would totally let them have free rein to re-design my home someday – that’s how much I love their style! Plus, can you get much cooler than curating a home decor shop and design studio on Magazine St. in New Orleans?

The store, called Sunday Shop, is designed to impart the feeling of a perfect Sunday. They really got me with this description, “Calm, sunny, and clean, white linen billowing in the breeze, jazz playing, incense in the air mixed with lemon and herbs, fresh greens and flowers from garden all, something roasting in the oven…a holistic retail experience for all of the senses.” Who is ready for a girl’s trip?

I’m also a big fan of their design philosophy, “LKI believes in creating environments that make our everyday lives beautiful and easy.” Bringing beauty and ease into everyday life — I think this is something many designers strive to do for our clients in this crazy, busy and often complicated world. Katie and Jensen do it so well! Hope you enjoy their interview and inspired interiors.


1. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned:

Take the time to get to know your clients and how they live in the beginning and really listen to them throughout the project. It takes time to learn how to do this.

2. One of the hardest things for new designers to learn:

There are many right answers and different styles. Be open. Good design is good design. Keep your eyes open to all that you can learn from something you don’t like at first glance.

3. What I’d change about my job: 

We work too much and are on the computer more than we would like.

4. If I could design anyone’s home it’d be:

Our own! Haha

5. When I’m uninspired, I turn to:

Taking a walk, going to art museums or galleries, or drinking wine and reading design books and magazines. Sometimes you need to just STOP thinking about it for the right solution to present itself.

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Ch-h-hanges! A New Baby & A New Design Studio

September 13, 2017 Interior Design, Warwick 0 Comments
claire staszak pregnancy photo

I’m sharing a little secret we’ve been keeping for about 20 weeks – we’re pregnant with our first child! While it’s usually easy for me to share about interior design, it’s a little bit harder to share the really personal moments. I’m both excited and nervous for this big change to come. I can only imagine how our little world will be rocked by this baby. I’ve always imagined that I would be a mom someday (and never thought I’d be a business owner!). Navigating this world with both titles is going to be a wild ride, and I’m so glad to have countless working-mom role models to look up to.

The past few years have certainly been all about interior design and building a business, and now I’ll be adding the all important title of MOM into my job description, while still growing the business! We are in the process of opening a brand new design studio in Lakeview on Lincoln Ave (near Southport). I was renting this space over the spring and summer, and recently took over the commercial lease! Studio 912, a cabinetry and kitchen + bath design company, whom I closely work with on many of my projects, will also be sub-leasing some of the space, and it’s exciting to have so many new resources to offer our clients – cabinets, countertops, wood working, appliance expertise, interior design, contracting – all at our fingertips!

I do have fears about doing it all, juggling it all and how I’ll have time to blog : ) – BUT I got some lovely advice from Ruth Bader Ginsberg (Supreme Court Justice & working mom) the other evening. You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once. I think this will be my new moto. Ruth talked about being a working mom in the 60s, she and her husband both making their way through law school (facing discrimination as a Jewish woman), and how they had to pick the slack up for each other at different times in their careers to keep family and work functioning. I’m incredibly lucky to have Luke, who is so supportive of my business and has a relatively flexible job as a teacher and will be able to really co-parent this new addition to our family.

The pregnancy has been going really well to this point, and we hope and pray that continues for the delivery of a healthy baby. I think I’ve been experiencing typical preggo symptoms, such as exhaustion and nausea, but now hitting the second trimester stride I’ve been really feeling like my old self again, which has been wonderful!

The design studio is open but we are re-modeling / re-decorating, so there will be more news about a Grand Opening and lots of pretty pictures before the holidays. If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading and supporting me – it means so very much to get to live out my passions on this blog/business and now I get to figure out how to become a mom too. (Okay, I’m crying now – so many emotions!). We also find out if we are having a boy or girl this afternoon – so check Instagram or FB for that news soon!

XO – CLAIRE + baby (size of a mango)

Here are some funny outtakes from this little maternity shoot where my sisters took pics for us:

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Find Your Personal Sanctuary

September 8, 2017 Interior Design 0 Comments

We’ve got a VIDEO! Scroll down to watch and here’s a little backstory:

You may not realize that Centered by Design has a slogan, which is, Find Your Personal Sanctuary. While the idea of home as one’s sanctuary isn’t a novel concept, when I began working in the residential design field (while simultaneously still teaching a few yoga class a week) I noticed that my concept of personal sanctuary began shifting. Sanctuary was no longer just available in the yoga studio, on a mountain top or at a deserted beach – I was helping people create their very own version of sanctuary in their home! And that is how Centered by Design, and the tag-line Find Your Personal Sanctuary was born.

Fast-forward about two years, and I had the good fortune of working for talented clients who happen to run their own video production company, Digital Hydra. We put our creative heads together and came up with video you see here. I hope it will convey a little more about my design brand, my personality and the interior design process for prospective clients.

We shot the video over a Friday and Saturday morning, and visited some of my favorite Chicago spots and vendors, such as Jayson Home & Garden, Farrow & Ball, Heritage General Store and my new Lakeview studio location (more on that later this month!). The featured project towards the end of the video is our Lincoln Park Row House project.

Make sure to hit the full screen button on the video link to watch the video a little bigger. Thanks so much for spending three minutes with me, let me know what you think!!



Warwick Kitchen wins Reader Renovation Contest

September 5, 2017 Warwick 0 Comments

Local north shore magazine and web resource, Make It Better, awarded our kitchen best reader renovation!

We made the back page of the magazine as pictured below! You can see other entries and the web version of the story online.

If you are new to the blog and want to re-visit the kitchen planning and renovation in more detail, check out our archive of home renovation posts here:

Always fun to see our work in print!



Outfit to Room: August Edition

August 29, 2017 Styling Lessons 0 Comments

Our resident fashion stylist, Alyssa Doorhy, of CoChic Styling is back (after a brief break while having a baby!) and we’ve got a fun fall fashion look for you. And it’s BOLD! Honestly, I would have never thought to put together an all red outfit, but I’m kind of in LOVE. Alyssa also promises that red is huge for fall fashion, here are her tips:

Red is THE color for Fall

  • If you want to wear red head to toe with sophistication, opt for rich fabrics like wools, knits and suede. 
  • The shades of red don’t have to match perfectly; in fact, it’s better to have some variation.
  • Add some texture to a monochromatic outfit with accessories, like these fringe earrings and suede shoes.
  • Outfit details: Sweater // Pants (Similar style here) // Earrings // Bag (Similar style here) // Shoes 

Here is the room from my Lincoln Square Family Home project, which Alyssa based this ensemble on. Everyone was loving the pop of color in the red chairs!

Here are a few red chairs and red fall clothing items I’m loving for fall:


What do you think?! Can you pull off head to toe red? I want to try it!


Design School: Studio LIFE.STYLE.


Welcome to the launch of DESIGN SCHOOL. This monthly interview series is chance to get inside the minds of our favorite interior designers with some rapid fire questions, and take a peek into their award-winning portfolios. The series will feature designers from all over the country (and world!), I hope these tidbits of advice leave you with a new idea or two. Grab a cuppa joe and let’s pretend we’re in LA at the Beverly Hilton sitting down for this interview! Also, if you have a designer you’d love to see featured please leave me a comment with your pick.

Studio LIFE.STYLE. is the West Hollywood, CA firm of Shannon Wollack & Brittany Zwickl. Brittany and I met last March at the Design Bloggers Conference at the Traditional Home dinner, and I immediately loved her style and warm personality. Since that time, I’ve been following the firms incredible press features and love the laid-back, yet modern and edgy, California sensibility they bring to their projects. Here’s more from Principle Brittany Zwickl. All photos courtesy of Studio LIFE.STYLE.

1. The most difficult aspect of my job:

The most difficult part of our job is probably all of the coordination that goes behind making sure every single item is ordered correctly, and scheduled to arrive on time while working in conjunction with the construction schedule.  There are so many important details not to be missed!

2. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned:

Consider the size of doorways and stairwells. Many years ago we designed a custom headboard that was 7′ high and hadn’t considered how we would actually get the bed into the space! The stairwell turned and the headboard was just too big to make the turn with the angle of the stairs. We ended up having to hoist the bed over the balcony and into the room that way!

3. Every room needs:

Plants and fresh cut flowers! Every room looks better with a little life.

4. My secret styling trick:

Layering different elements and textures helps give a space depth and personality. Books, art, plants, ceramics, throws, etc.

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Centered City Guide: Jackson Hole, WY

August 17, 2017 Yoga + Lifestyle 0 Comments

“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam and the skies are not cloudy all day.” I have never quite understood that song, but our recent trip to Jackson Hole, Yellowstone and Cody, Wyoming gave me a new perspective and quite the view of buffalo! I’d love to share a few of the highlights and some travel tips in case you or a friend is headed that way. I’m not a skier, so I can’t speak for the winter visit, but all of these tips apply to summer trip.

Tip 1: The two essentials for our trip were a good pair of hiking boots and a car rental. You really can’t get around to the national parks, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park without a car, and while you might get away with sneakers, a good pair of hiking boots will save your feet from blisters and ensure you can take on the longer hikes.

Jenny Lake in Tenton National Park is a not-to-miss area. There are several hikes and a boat ride across the lake available. There are plenty of short easier hikes, like up to Inspiration Falls (good for kids), or there are harder longer hikes like Amphitheater Lake. At Yellowstone National Park the best hike we took was up to Mt. Washburn, you walk a pretty steep, but moderate climb. There is a ranger station at the top of the mountain that is great for lunch, a bathroom break and stunning views.

Tip 2: Don’t miss the National Museum of Wildlife ArtA very manageable museum for a half-day trip and a good spot for kids too. The museum has two large galleries of wildlife art throughout the centuries and stunning patio and restaurant overlooking an elk wildlife refuge.

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Color and Pattern for a Family Home

July 27, 2017 Interior Design 1 Comment
painted trim green modern kitchen

Excited to share a recent project that involved a lot of my favorite – color and pattern! I get extra excited when clients are color lovers too. This vintage family home had been nicely updated upon move in but was lacking personality and needed to be pulled together. Color was used in strategic areas to create focal points and pattern and texture were layered throughout for a cohesive look. I’ve shared some of my favorite textile vendors in this post, because we used so many fun, non-traditional patterns. Hope you enjoy!

View all photos from this project in my PORTFOLIO

If you are looking to create your version of a beautifully designed home contact us HERE

centered by design entry navy stair runner

Vibrant, sophisticated and charming – we love the adventurous textiles of Peter Dunham. Pillow in Bukara – Blue.

modern living room teal velvet chairs

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