Design School: Lindsay Speace

A Cape Cod native now based in Raleigh, North Carolina Interior Designer Lindsay Speace’s work originally caught my eye due to her bold use of color and pattern (no wonder, she used to work for a European textile house!). I signed up for her blog/emails, and love the quick doses of design knowledge and unique finds she shares with friends and followers on her self-proclaimed sporadic blog, The Pursuit of Style.

Lindsay’s flair for vintage and mixing patterns is top notch! Her work has been featured by shelter outlets such as Domino, House Beautiful and more. You can find more daily inspiration from Lindsay Speace on Instagram. I’m thrilled to have her here with us on DESIGN SCHOOL:

Every home needs: Original Art

My secret styling trick: 

Group items in odd numbers when creating tablescapes.

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CBD on Million Dollar Decorating Podcast

The interior design podcast community is growing (see my list of favorites below) and we’re honored to be featured this month by one of the industries leading podcasts, Million Dollar Decorating. You can check out my 30-minute interview for yourself with host James Swan below. I discuss a little bit about my background, how I went back to school for design, started the business/blog, and share some of my favorite decorating tips!

Listen to this episode



Before + After: Using Neutrals with Style

abstract paper art

If you are consistently drawn to decorating with neutrals and bright or bold colors are just not your thing, fear not, you CAN decorate with neutral colors and still have an interesting and unique space. Today, I’m sharing a recent project reveal and I’ll explain some of the design process, and tips I use when trying to create neutral rooms that still feel fresh and interesting (and not like a total snooze fest!).  Before and after photos will help explain.


Lots of great millwork, but the cream and pale green was a very hard color palette to decorate with. The client wanted a much more modern and contemporary look, which translates to cooler colors. When you are decorating with neutrals think about warm vs. cool. Do you want a warmer white and coordinating paint colors, or a cooler white and coordinating colors? The color of your floors or existing furniture pieces may help you decide. There is no right or wrong, but in this case, we wanted cooler colors for a more modern feeling.


You can see how instantly with the cooler neutrals (more blues/grays/black in the paint) the space feels for modern and contemporary. We used a cool white, Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace on the ceiling, crown and wainscoting. On the upper walls we used Farrow & Ball Cornforth White (pale gray) and to make the millwork on the built-in stand out we painted the entire piece in Farrow & Ball Worsted (med. gray).

I added some warmth back into the space by playing off the tans, browns and creams in the fireplace stone. Using some tans in the drapery, adding gold accents and cognac leather helps the space from feeling one note. Also, I love a pop of black and often feel that is makes a more modern room complete. It’s used on the lamp shades and in the art work for a nice grounding touch.

abstract paper art

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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!