10 Best Apps for Your Interior Design Business

Everyone has a different path to walk when opening their interior design business and beginning the journey of entrepreneurship. We all have particular strengths and weaknesses. I had a particular strength in website knowledge, because I generally understood how to use WordPress from a past job and I had a growing portfolio of work I wanted to get online. Now, let me be clear. Starting a website and starting a business are NOT THE SAME THING. I’ve learned a thing or two along the way and I want to share my 10 best apps for your interior design business to get you off on the right track. Whether you are starting out or a pro looking for some new technology, all of these tech-based services have helped me streamline my business and function at new levels of productivity.

If you are looking for more information on starting your interior design business I recommend this post on Start Up Costs for Your Interior Design Business.

If you are looking for more information on Branding Your Business here is an older post about Creating My Logo.

10 Best Apps for Your Interior Design Business

G SUITE – Completely worth the $5/month per person to have this for your team. More intuitive then outlook, cloud storage, and better reliability than any other web/email hosting service. Your business name is necessary in your email address to look professional and g-suite allows @centeredbydesign.com vs. XXX@gmail.com.

Boomerang for Gmail – A free plug-in that lets you write emails and schedule when you’d like to send them. Great for late night emails, and having them automatically send at 9am – making you look like you are at the office early!

IVY – With the slogan “make time for design” IVY is a project management and invoice and billing lifesaver specifically for interior designers. This woman-owned business is making waves in the design technology space. I truly could not run my business without this software.

QuickBooks Online – QBO integrates with IVY on the backend, and I let my bookkeeper handle QuickBooks while I manage IVY. You can link your Chart of Accounts to have everything flow seamlessly back and forth. QB is the most universally understood accounting software by accountants and bookkeepers, which makes it easier for you to hire someone.

ThemeForest – I purchased this web site as a template off of Themeforest and then hosted my site on WordPress. If you spend the time to search for a purchase a great theme, so much of the work of developing a web site is done for you. You only pay for the theme once, versus paying every month for a service like Square Space.

WordPress – I use WordPress as my website and blog platform and find it easy to use with a little bit of help from a developer who initially set-up my theme, and can make customizations for me when necessary. I’m not an expert on SEO but I’ve heard being on WordPress is better for blogging. Here is an article comparing the Pros and Cons of these two platforms.

Google Analytics – Great plug-in for your blog to see where your traffic is coming from and what your most read posts and pages are. Essential tool if you want to work with brands who want to know what your blog and web site stats are. Very powerful and can do a lot more I’m sure – I have a lot to learn on this one!

Trello – It’s sort of like Pinterest meets Basecamp. It’s a free tool for collaborating on projects and can be fun especially for inter-office projects, such as initial inspiration phases on client projects. It’s a good place to gather information, files, imagery and messages, without the hassle of lots of back and forth emails.

TurboScan – Best scanning application for easy and very good quality scans from your phone. I use it very frequently to scan and save paper business receipts.

MileIQ – If you’re not already tracking your milage you are losing out on money per mile! This is a great application where you can download monthly reports and easily differentiate between business and personal drives.

I also can’t live without these four technologies – AutoCAD, Photoshop, PowerPoint and Pinterest.

I hope this article was helpful! These are truly my 10 best apps for your interior design business. Please comment below if you have additional questions, I’m more than happy to help if I can!


Women Who MAKE: Veronica Sheaffer

May 31, 2017 Interviews 0 Comments

I’m always enamored with off-beat style; individuals who own their look and aren’t afraid to be themselves. This goes in fashion and interiors. Of course, I love a dash of vintage, romance, humor and tradition thrown into the mix for good measure too. Luxury bridal and clothing designer, Veronica Sheaffer, represents thinking about fashion in your own way and is currently multi-tasking with a mission across several platforms. Her current fashion message, “the world says you’re old, but you’re still hot AF.”

Not only does Veronica have a line of custom bridal and intimates, a fashion blog for women over 35, and an incredibly well-decorated apartment, she’s also given away her entire wardrobe (undies too!) in an attempt to create a high-fashion wardrobe for herself (a personal project after so much sewing for others). Veronica can also spot good vintage from a mile away, and happens to be from Sandwich IL, which is known for a huge summer flea market series – don’t miss it if your local!

I’ve been admiring her bridal line for several years and it was a treat to visit Veronica at her home and studio. We even collaborated on a very fringy DIY coming up soon! Photos are by Chicago-based wedding and portrait photographer Anna Sodziak. Enjoy the interview and remember you are HOT as F**K.

Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – VERONICA SHEAFFER

  • Name: Veronica Sheaffer
  • Age: 37
  • Current title/company name: Designer, President / Veronica Sheaffer Inc.
  • Years in operation: 7+

What are your first memories of making/being creative?

I would play around with cross-stitch when I was in grade school, which is probably my first experience with a needle and thread, but before that – probably second and third grade – I was making my own paper dolls with endless wardrobes. I’ve always loved clothing and fabric and making something, anything, is so satisfying. In high school I started acting, which took me to NYC when I was eighteen (I studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts), and I stuck with that for many years. If I think about the arts that I love most – sewing, fashion, interior design, acting – they’re all very transformative. I supposed that’s at the root of my interests, although I’m not sure what that says about me, haha.


How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

When I was studying in NY, I somehow landed a receptionist position at a television post-production house, and that led to a series of “day jobs” in administrative positions, while I tried to make a go of acting. Of course I hated it at the time, but I learned so much. One of my early employers sent me to an email workshop (this was obviously a million years ago), and that was such a gift. All of that experience made the day-to-day tasks of running a business, and interacting with other businesses, second nature. The actual confidence to strike out on my own is baffling to me, since I spend half of my time thinking of myself as a failure. I guess I should thank my parents for stuffing the confidence deep into my psyche somewhere.

Tell us about the process of launching your business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

A friend and I took a leap and made a couple of women’s ready-to-wear collections, while I was still acting a bit. We did pretty well, considering I had zero experience with production (I had only sewn for myself up to that point), and that led to some requests for custom bridal gowns. I loved making those really special, emotional pieces, and my reputation in bridal started to grow quickly. It was only a couple of years before I launched my first full collection (2010). I was writing a blog at the time (My Hands Made It), which was fairly successful, and that helped spread the word. It was right at the beginning of the big blog/DIY/wedding/Pinterest boom – the timing was great. Then I had a baby, haha. Running a business and being a mom is HARD. There’s never enough time! Truly, there is not. You have to be so fluid – constantly making adjustments – because the day never goes as planned. NOTHING goes as planned. I’m so beyond lucky to have a husband who is fully invested in whatever I’m trying to create – he helps me so much. 

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Lake Forest Showhouse 2017: Before and After

back hall lake forest show house 2017

A big heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who came out to visit The Lake Forest Showhouse 2017. It was an honor to be involved along side my design collaborator for the event, Relativity Textiles. The showhouse benefitted the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago, and it was an honor to work among top design talent in the greater Chicago area. I was definitely the new kid on the block and everyone was gracious and welcoming!

I thought it would be fun to show the before and after pictures of our space, The Back Hall and Bath. Even I was a little stumped when trying to come up with a beautiful design for this very cramped bathroom and hall. This section of the house was likely the servants quarters back in the early 1900s, so it was customary for the space to be tight and not as grand as the rest of the home. HERE you can read a little more about the historic home built in 1922 by Howard Van Doren Shaw.

For the design story, we imagined a pastoral and whimsical secret passageway where a little girl or boy could get lost for hours reading perched in the stairwell, hiding from whomever was asking them to do their chores!

This is the digital design board we created as inspiration with final selections. The wallpaper is a custom print, “Arabian Nights” by Relativity Textiles. Lighting is by Circa Lighting and the paint color on the ceiling is Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball.

Here are the HALL BEFORE photos:

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10K Giveaway – Join the Instagram Party

It was a milestone moment for CBD this month when we reached 10 thousand followers on Instagram !! If you follow along on IG you might have heard about the big GIVEAWAY – don’t miss entering the contest (must enter via Instagram) and check out some of the great brands and prizes below.

I am so thankful for this encouraging, uplifting and exciting design community. Instagram is full of talented designers, renovators, builders, home decorators and so much more — I’m saving pictures from talented folks everyday, and trying my best to also offer inspiration, DIYs and behind the scenes moments to all of YOU. Reaching 10K from those first 37 or so IG friends has been both work and play. There is definitely some strategy and hard work involved in growing a following.

I’ll be giving a talk on this topic and more next week at The Merchandise Mart’s Digital by Design workshop event. This event is open to designers only, but I’ll re-cap my talk here on the blog in case you are interested in the subject matter as well. If you are local to Chicago and a designer you can register for the free event below. I’d love to see you there!


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Outfit to Room: May Edition

It’s always fun to see what our resident stylist, Alyssa of Cochic Styling, comes up with when she creates “the outfit” to match “the room” (I usually send her three photos to choose from). It’s a great little surprise in my inbox to see what she comes up with! This month she’s put together an easy, yet professional look with a versatile summer jean dress. I LIVE in my jean dresses, jumpers and skirts during the summer months so this look is totally up my alley. I’ve linked to a few of my favorites here:

Do you remember this Lake Forest Coach House Project? This guest bedroom was inspired by visions of summer camp and the personal photography from my client’s trip to Africa (hung over bed). I love how Alyssa has transformed it into a chic summer outfit using elements from the design! Navy blue and denim pulled from the roman shades and custom painted dresser, organic elements come through in the woven hat and suede shoes — and then that crazy colorful belt, just like the funky rug (CB2 sourced over a year ago).

interior summer jean dress interior summer jean dress

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Spring Home Tours Week Five: Meredith Rodday

Today I’m excited to introduce you to Meredith Rodday of View From My Heels. Meredith’s home is just outside Boston and has a distinctively coastal feel with lots of blue and white. I’ve never been to Nantucket, but Meredith’s home makes me dream of east coast beaches and warm summer days on the waters edge! There’s a bit of the California bohemian feel too. You can’t go wrong with some of the gorgeous pieces Meredith has collected from one of my favorite online decor retailers Serena & Lily. If you love the look of her home, definitely check out the their selection. Meredith blogs about design, helps her clients design stylish spaces and is a mama of twin boys!

This home tour is the last on our #SpringIntoHome series. If you’ve missed any of the tours you can check back on all the pretty interior inspiration with tours from Doreen – Suburban Chicago, Bria – Minnesota, Kelsey – Sasakatchewan, Canada, Claire – Chicago and now here’s Meredith’s tour in her own words:

Home Tour with Meredith Rodday – View From My Heels

“a little background if you’re new here: we purchased our house as a new construction spec home almost 5 years ago. the builder did an excellent job and we feel really lucky about that. however, as with many new constructions homes, there was a level of character and definitely personalization missing. i’ve worked really hard over the last 4+ years to turn our house into a home. there have been mistakes for sure (the laundry room for example has been painted twice and wallpapered once and it’s still not right) but we’ve also done a lot of great changes (like swapping out almost every single light fixture!). we undertook one major set of improvements/renovations in the fall of 2015 that really helped in the character department.

the dining room: i’ve never had our dining room professionally shot because it’s always been in varying states of done-ness (more like undone-ness). i’ve shown parts on instagram but now it’s ready for it’s full reveal! the art was my starting point and was the catalyst for changing out the rug, table, and chairs. the last pieces were the drapery which is so simple but adds that extra detail and the sideboard that i searched high and low for. i’m so happy to be finished in here…except maybe grasscloth one day?!

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Women Who MAKE: Zoe Pawlak

Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – Artist Zoë Pawlak

This month, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Canadian artist and entrepreneur Zoe Pawlak. It’s not often that a blind email stops me in my tracks, but when Zoe’s team reached out to me I was floored! Not only was her artwork vibrant, gorgeous and perfect for some of my clients, but she also has two rug collections based on her paintings, which are incredibly fun and unique. I love how her work feels contemporary, but not cold. The rugs and pantings pair well in all kinds of spaces, which makes her work so versatile for transitional and modern spaces.

I knew I had to feature her on Women Who Make! We had a great conversation a few weeks ago, where Zoe shared that as a young mom with little work experience she was determined to make a career as an artist work. Here is the interview – I hope you enjoy!

photo: Lululemon Pat Young

  • Name: Zoë Pawlak
  • Age: 35
  • Current title/company name: Zoë Pawlak Studio
  • Years in operation: 11

What are your first memories of making [art]/being creative?

Singing and performing to The Little Mermaid, Bodyguard, and Paula Abdul cassette tapes. My best friend and I dominated the craft fair scene in our suburb in grades 3-5. I never wanted to just make something, I always wanted to make something and then show it and sell it.

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I was educated at a Fine Arts high school for grades 10-12. This prepared me to attend two art programs in Canada at both Concordia and NSCAD. At university, I obsessively studied the human form, drawing and painting. Also, I suffered from depression as a teenager. I was allowed to go to live in Chile for a semester when I was 14 so long as I paid my own airfare. My parents always let us follow our dreams so long as we worked hard. I waitressed for 7 years and this is a hard job. I learned a lot about customer service, physical work and people. These skills were formative and still shape the way I apply myself at my job now.

photo: Ali Inay

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The Warwick Reno: Spring Home Tour – FULL REVEAL!

claire staszak centered by design

It’s week four of the #SpringIntoHome series – and the home tour of our Chicago bungalow renovation is up this week! I have been sharing pictures throughout the year, but these are the latest and most polished pictures to date. April marks the one-year mark here at The Warwick Reno! We moved into our 1932 Tudor-style brick bungalow during a lovely April snow shower in 2016. As I write this, it’s sunny and 70 degrees in the backyard. Quite a change from last year, both with the state of the house and with the weather!

It’s funny how things have a way of working themselves out. I can honestly say this year’s hard work has been incredibly rewarding. I could have never imagined the house would be featured in the Chicago Tribune, and that I’d meet wonderful design bloggers to collaborate with just as we are wrapping up the first floor renovations and ready to share our home! If you want to go BACK TO THE BEGINNING and see where we were at on day one (lots of before photos) please do! If you’re more interested in the pretty pictures…here we go!

chicago bungalow renovation

Entry with wallpaper by Relativity Textiles, original tile, Moroccan style lantern and vintage mirrors.

Luke and I were wowed by the vintage charm throughout this home. The arched front door and passageways, the hardwood floors, stained glass windows and a kitchen we knew we could gut and make our own!

Built-in made and designed by CBD. Vintage sofa and chairs reupholstered, new Moroccan style rug and marble/brass coffee table.

I started designing the house in my mind right away, began gathering vintage pieces and created design boards to help make the vision cohesive and communicate my ideas to Luke. I really surprised myself with the soft and neutral palette I was gravitating towards, because I’m typically a color addict. Because our lot faces north and good daylight is an issue, I began to realize I was doing everything in my power to make the house feel light.

Love using the original picture rail to hang art!

Lighting from Circa Lighting, vintage chest and console table refurbished by MegMade.

I pulled the soft blushes, greens and blues from the stained glass windows in the living room, and Luke and I knew we would create a large built-in media center to add a focal point and height to the living room.

Right away, I found a vintage black and brass curio wall cabinet that I knew I had to incorporate as a bar in the dining room. The living room and dining room took shape from that point — using blush, black, gold and pattern (greek key and marble) to make the space more interesting. I love Rebecca Atwood’s book Living with Pattern if you need help with mixing pattern and color in your space. Plants and a dose of green help any room!

The living room is painted Skimming Stone by Farrow and Ball. The dining room is Metropolitan by Ben Moore.

The kitchen was our biggest project. I became obsessed with the idea of black and white, since I wanted to pull in the black from the dining room and high-contrast and classic style seemed to fit the vintage bones of the house. We (mostly Luke) ripped out three layers of linoleum to uncover the original rustic pine floors, and adding butcher-block counter tops and brass hardware ties it all together. A vintage cupboard with glass cabinets adds a special twist and extra dishware storage. It was the hardest task to find this cabinet, but I new my vision was out there!

The mudroom is the perfect little 8′ x 8′ room right off the kitchen. We tiled the floor with ceramic tiles (cement look-alike but much less expensive from Wayfair) in a fun pattern, and painted everything bright white for a fresh feel to coordinate with the kitchen. Adding a bench and coat rack is perfect for coming and going. My favorite bright white is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. We also used heated floor mats under the tile, which I highly recommend if you live in an area with cold winters. Warm tile under foot is wonderful little luxury!

Mudroom adjacent to the kitchen and back entrance to house. Original brick walls as this was enclosed at some point over the life of the home.

The blue bedroom is our downstairs guest room, but we are sleeping in here for now until we get the upstairs and master renovated. This room has more of my bohemian side with its mix of colorful textiles and rattan pieces. The paint color is Solitude by Benjamin Moore. The blue watercolor painting over our dresser is a print of original work, “The River” by San Francisco artist Emily Proud.

And last but not least is my home office. It’s a great spot to get work done on late night nights, and someday could transition into a little playroom off the kitchen. For now, I spend a lot of time blogging right from this spot! I love my standing desk, which is an IKEA hack Luke created. We bought a white IKEA desk top and he created the base from birch plywood. The storage unit is IKEA Kallax, and we painted the wood floor white (it was a different flooring from the rest of the house). I’ve got an entire post about painting your floors.

There’s a bathroom and second bedroom on the first floor that aren’t quite photo shoot ready, but might get makeovers at some point. And we plan to tackle all of the second floor rooms (including gutting the upstairs bath) on Luke’s break from teaching this summer. We’ve got an entire deck to re-stain, garage to organize and pretty much the list never ends once you’re a homeowner. As my best friend said once we closed on the house, “now this house owns you!” And personally, I don’t think we’d want it any other way. : )

Thank you so much for checking out our home and labor of love together! If I can answer any of your pressing renovation or decorating questions don’t hesitate to ask! AND don’t miss the wonderful ladies and other home tours on the #SpringIntoHome series this spring:

Farmer’s Daughter Interiors – Instagram | Blog  //  View from my Heels – Instagram | Blog

Doreen Corrigan – Instagram | Blog  //  Bria Hammel Interiors – Instagram | Blog

Photography by Dustin Forest and Aimee Mazzenga


Spring Home Tours Week Three: Farmer’s Daughter Interiors


Alrighty! By now you know the drill, it’s Friday and that means it’s #SpringIntoHome home tour time. This week it’s my fellow Designer Blog Conference Award Winner, Kelsey Grose of Farmer’s Daughter Interiors who won Best New Design Blog. Kelsey and I really connected at the conference for several reasons. We are both new business owners, share a love of vintage pieces and renovated our own homes with our husbands! We also both love the blogging and marketing sides of the design business. Kelsey is one of few other designers I know whose business name is not her own name. You’ve got to give a read to her post about the meaning behind her business name – it’s a really special story.

Here is Kelsey’s home tour in her own words. She is based in Saskatchewan, Canada.

“We’ve lived in our home for just over three years, since just after we got married. It was in pretty rough shape when we bought it and we started renovating before we even moved in. Our renos involved shifting the stairs to allow for a larger dining room, taking out some of the interior walls, moving a few of the windows, and completely re-configuring the main bathroom.

Our home isn’t huge but, having done almost all of the reno work ourselves, it’s been a labour of love and suits the two of us great for now. I’m happy to say it’s basically completed now – we finished the basement a year ago and the exterior this past fall.

Outfit to Room: April Edition

centered by design outfit to room april

With wedding season in the Midwest quickly approaching I thought that this month’s Outfit to Room post could stand to go a little more formal. Stylist Alyssa of CoChic Styling give us her FAQ’s on wedding attire etiquette and says you CAN wear white to a wedding.

Here’s the room that inspired this spring wedding look. Our black, white and brass kitchen!

FAQ’s on Dressing for a Wedding

– When do I wear a long dress versus a short dress?

This look would be appropriate for a black tie or black tie optional spring or summer wedding. For a more casual wedding, opt for a cocktail (shorter) dress instead.

– I can wear white to a wedding?

Yes! This is a very dated rule. It depends on the bride, though. If you know the bride is someone who would be offended by others wearing white, or if she’s having an extremely traditional wedding, don’t risk it. And make sure your white dress doesn’t look like a bridal gown at all.

– What if the invitation is very fancy but doesn’t indicate that the wedding is black tie or black tie optional?

It’s always better to overdress than underdress. Assume it’s going to be a fancier affair and opt for a “black tie optional” look, like this one. A midi dress is also a good option to consider. (A midi dress is in between floor length and cocktail length.)

– Is it ok to bring a change of shoes for dancing?

Totally! The bride and groom want you to have a good time and be dancing all night long, so bring comfortable flats if your heels are going to bother you.

LinksDress Shoes Bag | Earrings

centered by design outfit to room april

Happy Wedding season! XO – CLAIRE