Cabinet Hardware: Installation Tips & Tricks

March 22, 2021 DIY Projects 0 Comments

One of the simplest, most budget-friendly ways you can update your kitchen (or any room with cabinetry) is to update your hardware. New cabinet hardware can dramatically change your space and easily be done in an hour or two — talk about a quick transformation! There are many options out there to choose from when it comes to cabinet hardware, including cabinet knobs and cabinet pulls. Consider this your handy guide to cabinet hardware installation with tips and tricks from interior designers to make it easier.

Types of Cabinet Hardware

The two main types of cabinet hardware are knobs and pulls. While the general design rule is “knobs on doors, pulls on drawers,” we at Centered by Design believe rules are made to be broken — so feel free to choose whatever works best for your space and lifestyle.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind. Overall, using pulls will give you a more modern look, while knobs lend a more traditional, sweeter vibe to cabinetry. If you have a kitchen with paneled appliances, you’ll also need appliance pulls. There are also many variations on cabinet hardware, including cabinet latches, bin pulls, finger pulls and more.

When counting how many pieces of cabinet hardware you need to replace your current set, we always recommend counting twice — and then counting again. A pro tip: Place a colored sticky note on each cabinet you’ve counted to ensure you don’t duplicate (when tallying up what you need in a large kitchen, counting can be tricker than you’d expect!). It’s also a smart idea to order a few more pieces than what you need, as sometimes cabinet hardware can come with imperfections.

Considering a larger kitchen reno? Download our 50-page Insider’s Guide to Kitchen Design PDF to guide you through the planning and execution.

Credit: Jack Creasy, Traditional Kitchen Knobs and Bin Pulls

Credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel, Modern tiny knobs and half moon finger pulls

Credit: Plain English, Round or ball knob

Sizes of Cabinet Hardware

This is really up to personal preference and the look you’re going for. But, here are some general rules of thumb when it comes to hardware sizing:

  • Pulls should typically be one-third of the width of the drawer. (For example, a drawer that’s 24 inches wide would need an 8-inch pull.)
  • Knobs should fit on your cabinet rail (on Shaker-style cabinets) with a little room to breathe on all sides. (If you have flat-panel cabinets, size is personal preference.)
  • Appliance pulls nearly always come in 12- or 18-inch lengths (occasionally bigger), so get one that’s proportional to your appliance size.

Something to think about if you’re on a tight budget is that pulls are generally more expensive than knobs, since they’re larger.

Credit: House and Home, Linear pulls

Credit: Frenchy Fancy, Modern Finger Pulls

Placement and Installation of Cabinet Hardware

The best part about changing out your cabinet hardware is that there’s no need for drilling holes (unless you’re switching from knobs to pulls or vice versa, which would require filling in the holes and potentially hiring a carpenter). You can just remove your existing hardware and replace it with your new pieces.

With that in mind, you generally won’t have to worry about the placement of the new hardware. But as a general rule, pulls should be directly centered on a drawer front, and knobs placed at the corner of the cabinet where the rail (horizontal) and stile (vertical) panels intersect. If you have two knobs on a wide drawer, each should be placed on the outer thirds.

To install: Start by hand-tightening the screws on knobs and pulls, then use a screwdriver to ensure they will stay in place.  If you have thick drawers or cabinets, you may find that the screws that come with your new hardware are not long enough. In that case, feel free to use the screws that used to hold your current hardware to attach the new ones.

Below are all cabinet installation photos from the Centered by Design portfolio of work:

Where to Buy Cabinet Hardware

You can find cabinet hardware at any building supply store, including many options at Home Depot and Lowe’s. However, if you want a more designer or customized look, look beyond those basic stores. Here are four of our favorites:

House of Antique Hardware: Vintage and antique-inspired hardware will add a punch of character to any kitchen or bathroom.

Restoration Hardware: High-quality hardware makes a difference, and there are many options here.

Anthropologie: If funky, patterned and/or colorful is what you’re seeking, check out their eclectic and unique offerings.

Schoolhouse: Classic and clean hardware found here will go with every type of aesthetic.

Want more ideas for stores to shop when designing your home? Download Our Favorite Resources for Interior Decorating PDF.

Peek Inside Our New Chicago Design Studio!

February 24, 2021 Interior Design 1 Comment
new Chicago design studio

We have some exciting news: Centered by Design is moving to a new Chicago design studio!

Spring has a way of making everything feel fresh again. We may still have snow on the ground and freezing temperatures in Chicago, but we’re already looking forward to starting anew in the next few weeks. I’m so thrilled to be sharing a first look at our new Chicago design studio with you today! We’re currently renovating the space, so consider this the “before” — and we will be sure to share the “after” photos with you when it’s completed.

new Chicago design studio

Why and Where We’re Moving

Our two-room office in Lakeview has served us well for the past three years, but as Centered by Design has gotten bigger, we’ve outgrown the space (it turns out, working at one big table doesn’t always bode well for deep focus). We wanted more room to work, as well as to grow our sample library and use our office as a dual-function workplace for our team and showroom for current and future clients.

After searching for the perfect new Chicago design studio for months, I finally came across one I fell in love with. It’s located in a prime spot in Lincoln Park and gives us plenty of room to grow. When we first visited the space — a historic building that formerly housed Drehobl Art Glass, a Chicago company that started making stained glass and beveled glass windows in 1919 — we recognized its immense potential. Not only was it filled with abundant natural light, but its detailed architecture and molding gave the space so much character. We knew it would be the perfect space for Centered by Design’s second office.

Now, we’re working on making it truly feel like our own. Here’s a peek into what we’re doing to update the space ahead of moving in.

Layout of the New Chicago Design Studio

new Chicago design studio

When you first enter the space, our new conference room is to your right. This is where we’ll hold client meetings and presentations. We love how it’s very traditional and has large windows facing the street that let in so much natural light.

The long wall to the left will be our custom cabinetry showcase. This will be an area to show off our capabilities in this area, with different cabinetry installed along the wall, kitchen, island, open shelving… and even the bathroom will have its own custom vanity. Cabinetry is one area that Centered by Design really excels in, so we can’t wait to use this space to really reveal to clients all the bells and whistles they can choose in designing cabinetry with us for their own homes.

Across from the cabinetry showcase will be our custom-built desks (from our favorite furniture maker) and a full kitchen, and we’ll have a nice big storage room in the back.

Continue reading →

7 Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer

February 19, 2021 Interior Design 0 Comments
why to hire an interior designer

If you’ve never worked with a professional to help you decorate your home, you may be wondering why to hire an interior designer, what they actually do and what the value one can bring to you and your home. Today we’re going to answer all your burning questions about why an interior designer is worth the investment from our own Claire Staszak, principal and owner at Centered by Design.

why to hire an interior designer

They will help you manage your investment in your home.

Consider this a long game. People often think hiring an interior designer is expensive. While interior design isn’t an inexpensive service upfront, the opposite is actually true. One reason why to hire an interior designer is to help you stay on budget and on track. A designer has so many resources, so when you find the designer who’s a good fit for you (based on your style and the level of project you’re looking to do) and if you’re transparent about what you can spend, your project will be that much more successful. An interior designer truly can help you save time and money in the long run. They do this through helping you to choose top-quality vendors, materials, and pieces that will stand the test of time. Interior designers aren’t into always choosing the most expensive products, either. Yes, they (should) have great taste. What that means is that they can take a $5 tile and make it look like a $50 tile — because they have the knowledge on where to spend, where to save and the vision to bring it all together.

They’re pros at handling projects you’ve never tackled before.

The No. 1 thing to look for in an interior designer is solid experience. As with any field, the longer they’ve been practicing their craft, the more experience they’ll have, and therefore the quicker they can make decisions and know the right way to handle any situation that pops up. While a DIY kitchen renovation can go south any number of ways for a homeowner, a good interior designer has been there, done that when it comes to just about any problem. They can easily help you manage and navigate through any challenges along the way. Interior designers also have technical skills, such as drawing in scale, that come in handy. While interior designers don’t (typically) design the exteriors of homes, they specialize in interior architecture. When working with a good interior design firm, you should be getting a large set of drawings, of everything from floor plans, to elevations, cabinet and tile details and so on.

why to hire an interior designer

They’re well connected.

When you hire an interior designer, you’re not just getting one person. You’re getting access to their entire team of vendors in whom they’ve developed trust through working with them over the years. You can’t do a renovation single handedly, and an interior designer is someone who has the team members already in place to make your dream projects a reality. Think contractors, cabinet makers, tile installers, countertop fabricators, drapery seamstresses, and many more. It’s important to ask an interior designer for references upon meeting with him or her. You want to know they have that strong network and also ask for photos of their work (including before and after transformations) to be sure they’re the right fit for you and your project.

why to hire an interior designer

They’re the ultimate organizers.

Besides assembling an amazing group of vendors to help you execute your project, interior designers are highly skilled with organization. Feeling scattered in your ideas of what you want your renovation to look like? An interior designer’s chief role is project manager. They’ll help you corral all those vision board ideas into one cohesive vision and bring your dream look to life.

Their job is to stay cool, calm, and collected.

Remember that part about handling challenges with ease? An interior designer will deal with all the headaches of a home renovation (or help to remove them completely) for you to ensure you get back to normal life as soon as possible. Working through a renovation while you’re living in a home, especially with a family, is a disruption of your daily life and not easy to deal with. The more people you can have on your team — namely, a highly skilled and experienced interior designer — the quicker problems are going to get solved, with little crisis management needed on your part.

They’re fun to work with.

If you meet an interior designer whose work you like and respect, and with whom you have a good connection, the process of working with him or her should be enjoyable. After selecting the right designer, you should feel comfortable handing over your trust to that person. From that point forward, you’re only saying yes or no to ideas and perhaps making small edits along the way. For the most part, you’re turning over the project — and freeing up your own decision-making ability and headspace. Doing a renovation shouldn’t feel like “work” on your part. The interior designer will manage all of that for you so you can sit back and enjoy the process and final result.

They’ll help improve the value of your home.

Unless you’re going for a specific alternative look, most interior designers will steer homeowners toward a classic design that will stand the test of time while reflecting your personality and lifestyle. Ideally, anything an interior designer works on will still look beautiful 10, 20 or 30 years down the road. It’s proven that homes that have had the touch of an interior designer sell faster and for a higher price than those that haven’t. It all comes down to quality, choosing pieces and styles that last longer so you won’t need to replace or change them every few years.

Are you thinking of working with an interior designer on a home renovation project this year after learning about why to hire an interior designer? Centered by Design can help. Start here by filling out a quick questionnaire about your project and style. We offer complimentary phone consultations to determine if we’d be a good fit to work together. We can’t wait to hear from you and learn how we can help to design your home to stand the test of time!

The State of Real Estate in Chicago in 2021

It’s the trend we never saw coming. Due to the pandemic, real estate has experienced an unprecedented busy year, as being stuck at home had many homeowners realizing they were ready to move — craving more space, roomy surrounds, and peaceful outdoor areas. In 2021, experts are expecting Chicago real estate trends to continue to grow, with spring season starting earlier than usual in what’s become a highly competitive market. We talked with three local real estate agents about the impact of Covid on Chicago’s real estate market, what buyers are looking for right now, and tips for both buyers and sellers looking to make a change this year. (And if you missed it, also check out our post on top interior design trends for 2021!)

Nicole Oertel
The Oertel Group

What impact has Covid had on the real estate market in Chicago?

The pandemic has definitely changed buyers’ search criteria. Most families want more space, more rooms for working from home and e-learning, private pools, gardens, and serene outdoor spaces — or as close to all of the above as they can get. Of course, fabulous kitchen that include walk-in pantries, command centers, mud rooms and lots of storage are all the rage.

Neighborhoods matter a lot, too. Great public and private schools along with amenities like beautiful beaches, outdoor trails, and cute downtowns are all very popular among suburban shoppers. That’s why the North Shore has once again become the “it” place for those looking to take advantage of everything the greater Chicagoland area has to offer while still being within a short commute into the city. Working from home has certainly had the biggest impact on this, and those who thought they would never leave the city are now rushing to these beautiful shoreline towns. We even have buyers looking for second homes, such as a downtown condo, while living the majority of the time in their serene North Shore home.

Can you share a few tips for navigating the spring home search season?

The real estate market is set to be strong and competitive throughout 2021, so start early and be well prepared. Contacting an agent early in the year will ensure that we can get you set up on a search, and have you fully organized and qualified, and give you an advantage over the competition, whether you’re buying or selling.

What are buyers looking for in a home these days? 

A majority of buyers want an updated, modern home. Most (not all, of course) don’t want a major project, so making the improvements before you sell will help catch buyers’ attention and help you to sell quickly and for a higher purchase price. However, if you are not willing to make major improvements prior to selling, we can help suggest smaller tips and tricks to show the home’s potential. Vintage homes with great bones and desired floor plans are also in high demand.

Best tips for buyers?

Contacting us months before you think you want to buy is best. When we work with first-time buyers (or any buyer) we want them to be as strong as possible so when we find the house they love and go to write an offer, they are fully capable and ready to go. This allows our buyers to come across stronger than competing buyers, and can even help them to save money due to being well organized and well qualified with our team of professionals — especially in multiple-offer situations.

Best tips for sellers?

Preparation is key to getting your home sold fast and for top value. Getting us in your home to assess it and give you a value sooner is better. In many cases, we may be able to advise on improvements in your home to increase its value before you sell.

What are some advantages of working with The Oertel Group?

Our full-service concierge approach allows us to fully manage the process for our clients. We help sellers with small projects like painting, decluttering, and staging, as well as larger ones like updating a bathroom or kitchen to substantially increase the home’s value before going to market. [By the way, Centered by Design has a fantastic guide to renovating your kitchen — check it out here.] We can even pay for the improvements upfront to take the hassle and stress out of our clients’ hands. Once your home is ready to market with us, the fun part begins with professional, Instagram-worthy photography, drone videos and virtual walk-throughs. Making sure your home and its unique characteristics are represented properly and put in front of the right audience is so important.

Can you share a few of your featured listings?

395 N Green Bay, Lake Forest

Luxury living doesn’t get any better than Two Gables (above), a fully renovated North Shore home with custom vintage design.

2414 W Erie, Chicago

This custom new-construction home is situated in Chicago’s coveted West Town neighborhood and is ready for a kitchen makeover.

For more, follow @theoertelgroup on Instagram. Questions? Email

Shanley Henry
Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty

What impact has Covid had on the real estate market in Chicago?

A lot of families that had a move to the suburbs in their five-year plan have moved that up and are leaving the city now, so the suburbs have seen a lot more activity than they have in decades. But the city market has still been very strong with younger buyers becoming more eager to own their first home and wanting to stay in the city.

Due to Covid, buyers are making decisions much faster. Typically, my buyers see anywhere from five to 20 or more homes before making a decision. In 2020, I didn’t have any buyer see more than 10, and most made a decision after seeing six or fewer places.

Also, Covid has impacted interest rates. They are at historical lows, which has helped bring a lot of buyers to the market. Even though buyers may not get a “deal” in this market, when you look at the interest rates, you’ll be spending less than when prices may fall, but interest rates go back up by a half percent or more.

What are buyers looking for in a home these days? 

Buyers want move-in ready homes, outdoor space, and a place to work from home. A lot of buyers do not want to do work; even minor things like changing cabinet colors, can turn off buyers. Outdoor space has always been important, but with Covid it’s almost a non-negotiable — and the same with a space for a home office. It doesn’t necessarily need to be its own room, but having a den or a nook area for a desk is very important to buyers right now.

Can you share a few tips for navigating the spring home search season?

We’ve been seeing spring buying season inch up each year and this year it looks like it will start very early.  Usually we real estate agents say spring market kicks off (no pun intended) after the Super Bowl, but this year I think it will get busy in January. Covid has made a lot of people question where they live and either look to improve the space they have or look for a new one. And with limited distractions (people not going on vacations, traveling during the holidays, etc.) there’s a lot of time for home shopping.

If you’re thinking of buying this year, it’s time to talk to a real estate agent and a lender. Your agent will help guide you through the process and can recommend a trusted lender. The lender will help you figure out how much money you can spend and what that will look like in terms of monthly payments. Even if you’re still a ways out from buying, it’s still a good idea to get in touch with your lender because you can get started on improving your financial situation — meaning the amount of money you may qualify to borrow and the rate you can get.

Best tips for buyers?

Decide what your must-haves are and what are nice-to-haves. I always tell my buyers to focus on things that cannot be changed or are very hard to change, like location and the bones of a home. Things like paint colors, light fixtures, and flooring can all be swapped out to make the home your own. Also, if you are willing to do some work, you will have a lot more options. Many buyers want move-in ready, so homes with updated kitchens and baths tend to go quickly. If you’re willing to redo a kitchen you will pay less, create a space you really love, and put some value into the home right from the start.

Buyers should also get pre-approved with a lender. It looks like it will be a very busy market, which means it will be competitive. You can’t wait until after you find a home to get pre-approved, as there’s a very good chance the home will be gone.

Best tips for sellers?

Get your home ready now. The buyers are out there looking early, and you want to take advantage of that. A lot of sellers wait until the more traditional spring market, but I think sellers who are ready to list early will have a lot of activity without the same competition of other homes on the market.

Start doing any work you need to do before listing. Although there are a lot of buyers looking, they’re not willing to compromise on a space they don’t like. Even smaller projects like painting and swapping light fixtures can have a huge impact on how your home looks. Also declutter, declutter, declutter. Put things in storage if you need to; it’s crucial to have minimal clutter (kids’ toys, extra furniture, etc.) so buyers can really get a feel for your home and how they would live in it.

Can you share a featured listing?

2145 N Racine, Chicago

This gorgeous two-bed, two-bath condo has an extra-wide layout and tons of natural light.

For more, follow @shanley-henry on Instagram and Facebook. Questions? Email

Hayley Westoff
CompassMacPherson Westhoff

What impact has Covid had on the real estate market in Chicago?

Covid has actually stimulated the market. Being stuck inside your home during lockdown with lots of time to think has made people across the nation realize they want to upgrade their home to something with more space, more outdoor areas, and more updates. Larger properties with all of those things have thrived during Covid. Unfortunately, smaller properties with less than three bedrooms or no outdoor space, and high-rise properties have gone in the opposite direction as the demand for them is at an all-time low.

Can you share a few tips for navigating the spring home search season?

Work with an agent who has access to all of the off-market networks. The market is going to be competitive, so getting in before others is key! Second, buyers should look for the bones, not the shiny finishes of a home — as there will always be more competition for those. Find the property with the best bones in the best location that needs work and put some sweat equity into it. Finally, do your homework now so you are ready to act fast. Some properties will sell the first day on the market, so be prepared and feel confident about what you want going into spring.

Best tips for sellers?

Do cost-effective renovations. They’re more important now than ever with Covid, as buyers don’t want people in their homes and are craving updated spaces after being cooped up in a home they are dying to upgrade. Also, be realistic with price. Overpricing will end up hurting your sales price in the end. You should capitalize on this market that will be active and buyers’ sense of urgency, but not so much so that after that “new listing” honeymoon period is over and your home becomes a stale listing. Take care to spruce up your outdoor spaces, too.  Properties that have appealing areas outdoors are red-hot .

Can you share a featured listing?

2721 N Southport Ave, Chicago

A gorgeous, spacious kitchen with quartz countertops and wine fridge is a highlight of this 4-bed, 2.5-bath duplex in Lincoln Park.

For more, follow @hayleywestoff_realtor on Instagram. Questions? Email

Are you looking to get your home ready to sell in 2021? Or perhaps you just purchased a new home and are needing interior design to make it your own? Centered by Design can help! Contact us here to share more about your project.

Our Top Home Design Trends for 2021

As we close the tumultuous chapter that was 2020, it’s exciting to look ahead to a new year, full of opportunity and fresh starts. We’re already planning projects and looking at what home design trends will be top of mind — but not before reflecting on what we loved about styles this year. Here, a look back at three trends we loved, and three we’re looking forward to.

3 Design Trends We Loved in 2020

These aren’t going anywhere, either! Expect to see more in 2021.

Home Design Trends for 2021

Wood Kitchens

While classic white cabinets will never go out of style, people are starting to go much warmer with color — think taupe and greige. We’ve seen homeowners being open to both light and dark woods again, but in a modern way. Forget the ’90s cherry; for 2021, it’s all about beautiful oak and walnut stained in a way to make them feel very natural.

If you’re thinking about going for wood cabinets, it’s important to keep the profile in mind. Wood cabinets can look dated if you go for a traditional profile. The biggest trend for the past decade has been shaker (with a recessed center panel), often painted white. Doing a flat front door can be gorgeous in wood, because it allows you to see the intricate grain of the piece. (Also, it’s worth noting: Wood cabinets typically are more expensive than painted ones because you’re using solid wood instead of a filler panel.)

Home Design Trends for 2021

Floral Wallpapers

At Centered by Design, we’ve long been a fan of floral wallpaper (here’s our guide to the best places to buy wallpaper). A modern take on a classic, almost everyone responds well to it — largely because there’s so much variety, with florals available in every scale, type and color from so many different makers. Complementing all the florals we’re seeing in fashion now, floral wallpaper has a certain romantic quality that can add a feminine feel to any room. We expect this trend of all floral, all the time, to continue steadily throughout 2021.

Home Design Trends for 2021

Fluted Decorative Detail

Also known as tambour, this type of fluted decorative detail first popular in the ‘80s (remember the appliance garage?) is showing up everywhere from cabinets to walls and furniture. Similar to reeding, it has an almost Art Deco vibe thanks to the way it appears to “roll.” With a look similar to beadboard, it can add texture and movement to almost anything.

3 Design Trend Predictions for 2021

It’s all about making your home a more enjoyable, comfortable and beautiful place to be.

Focus on the Home Office

With so many now working from home, people are looking to create a very separate work space that also feels a little luxurious. When you’re unable to go anywhere, your surroundings make a bigger difference — so we’re starting to see more investment in home offices, with high-end details like wall paneling, luxe carpet and fancy lighting. You don’t have to dedicate an entire room to a home office, though — just use whatever you have, even if that takes the form of clearing a large closet. Skip the office furniture and opt for beautiful, smaller-profile pieces that allow you to carve out a sacred space to work separate from your personal space.

Home Design Trends for 2021

Mini Flush Mounts

This can be a love-it or hate-it type of look, but we’re excited about the concept of using tiny flush mounts instead of can lighting, most commonly in kitchens and hallways. We see design moving away from minimalism and getting more decorative, and these mounts are just another way to add a level of design interest. (By the way, we love them!)

Curvy Design

Another trend that harkens back to the ’80s is the idea of curved doorways, furniture and cabinet profiles. Instead of just doing a typical square opening, for example, we’re seeing more homeowners opt for a version of an arch. This is a softer approach to design that has European roots as well. In fact, our team just did our first curved island — picture a standard rectangular island, but with clipped corners. We see this shapely trend continuing to gain steam in the new year. (Fun fact: Our favorite Lulu and Georgia also named arches and curves as a trend in 2020!)

Now, Tell Us…

What trends are you seeing for 2021? It’s interesting to look back and reflect on home design trend predictions from this time last year, such as this one. You can also read more trend predictions for the year ahead from here and here.

For even more design inspiration, see our list of favorite interior design books. You can’t go wrong with these, which skip trends and help you curate a classic look for your home.

We’d love to help you with your home design projects in 2021. Get in touch and tell us about your plans!

Decorating Your Home for the Holidays!


One of the most beautiful things about decorating for the holidays is all the ways you can bring the outdoors in. From Christmas trees to poinsettias to mistletoe and eucalyptus garland, decorating with live plants is a lovely way to bring the holiday spirit into your home. One of our favorite ways to feel festive is to hang fresh holiday garland from a bannister, mantel or mirror. We tapped our friend Tara Guenther, owner of the Chicago floral shop Taxaflora, to answer all your questions on how to make a fresh holiday garland of your own.

holiday garland

What should I look for in a fresh holiday garland?

The main types of greens that are available in garland form are cedar, pine, magnolia, olive and eucalyptus. You can find these at a local garden center or a big-box store (like Lowe’s or Costco), or pre-order them from a florist. Here, a few online options that sell live garland, too (check shipping times before ordering):

How do I calculate how much garland I need?

Measure the length of your banister or your mantel (or whatever you’re aiming to hang the garland on). Then, calculate 1.5 times that dimension. For example, a 6-foot mantel multiplied by 1.5 would mean you need 9 feet of garland.

holiday garland 

What materials do I need to hang a fresh garland?

The main way to hang a fresh garland is zip ties, but you can also use strong fishing line. (Avoid wire, as it can scratch finishes.) Then, after you’re done hanging, you can add embellishment with extras like satin ribbon, or silk if you want a luxurious touch.

How do I keep fresh garland looking fresh for the whole month of December?

Lightly mist it with a spray bottle every day. It sounds obvious, but don’t hang a garland right above direct heat. A fresh garland hung above a wood-burning fireplace really doesn’t stand a chance of surviving (and is a fire hazard, too).

What are some unexpected spots to place a fresh garland?

If you have a bay window or a side table in a foyer, those can both be lovely spots. Layer them with holiday plants to create depth for an eye-catching display.

holiday garland

Can you tell us more about Taxaflora?

I’ve been drawn to flowers since I was young, starting out making my own bouquets with flowers from my mom’s garden. After managing a floral shop in downtown Chicago for a few years, I realized I wanted to start my own company. I opened Taxaflora in Logan Square in 2018. Online, I offer a few holiday items that can be shipped, like wreaths. For local Chicagoans, I also offer private classes on how to make your own fresh evergreen wreath.

More of our favorite holiday decorating resources

Hanging fresh garland is an easy and beautiful way to start decorating your home for the holidays. But don’t stop there! From traditional (think wreaths with bows in every window) to modern (a few simple candles on the mantel), there are holiday decorating ideas to suit every taste. You don’t have to turn your home into a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie, filled with kitsch and all the red and green, either. (Although, don’t get us wrong — we love a good predictable holiday flick). Here, a few of our favorite roundups lately to inspire your holiday decorating:

From all of us at Centered by Design, we’re wishing you a very merry holiday season and a cheerier 2021! (By the way, don’t miss our 2020 Gift Guide.) Contact us here to tell us about what projects you’d like to do next year and learn how we can help.

Holiday Gift Guide 2020

The holidays are always a special time. But after a year like we’ve had, we’ll all cherish the coming weeks more than ever, no doubt. This year, the Centered by Design team has put together a décor-focused interior designer gift guide to share with you.

On top of all the decorations and lights and celebrations, I always love the holidays because of how much I enjoy buying gifts for people. Gifts are such a personal, nice way to show loved ones how much you care about them. I think a lot of people get nervous about buying décor for someone else because they’re worried it won’t “go” with their home or fit their style. That’s why each piece we’ve curated here is meant to be classic and timeless — and to fit perfectly into anyone’s space.

And if you still can’t decide for the choosiest loved ones on your list, you can’t go wrong with a book. We’ve included some of our favorite selections below for the Entertainer, the Decorator and the Art Lover.


For the Entertainer

interior designer gift guide 1 Glo Linen Placemat, $29, ABC Carpet & Home 
A set of these neutral placemats makes an elegant table setting you can dress up or down.

2 Itza Wood Gathering Tray, $98, Bloomist
Whether it’s used to wrangle keys, cell phones and masks or added on top of an ottoman with a vase of flowers, this simple tray is always chic.

3 Color Key Rectangular Tray, $84, Jayson Home
This multicolored tray is pretty enough to stand on its own or gather odds and ends on an entryway table.

4 Beldi Glass Collection, $5-$34, Jayson Home
We love these multifunctional pieces, which can be used as decor or actual servingware.

5 Key Bottle Opener, $48, Jayson Home
Jazz up your wine ritual with this snazzy opener that’s sophisticated enough to leave out on the bar.

6 “Barefoot Contessa Parties,” $23, Amazon
You can never go wrong with Ina Garten, the woman who gifted us all giant cosmopolitans during quarantine.

Wood Gathering Tray from Bloomist

For the Decorator

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Meet Our Design Team!

November 17, 2020 Interior Design, Interviews 1 Comment
Chicago interior design firm

You know the old adage, “it takes a village”? Not only about raising children, this holds true at Centered by Design, too. Far from a one-woman business, I have to hand it to my amazing team that helps to make our Chicago interior design firm a success. I truly could not do what I do without this crew, who inspire both our clients and me every single day. We thought it would be fun to get a little personal today and share more about who we are, how we got here and what makes our design-loving hearts flutter.

Claire Staszak

Title: Principal, Owner and Creative Director

Chicago interior design firm

What I actually do: As a small team, we all wear a lot of hats! I consider myself part entrepreneur, part creative director and part personal renovation coach at our Chicago interior design firm.

Where I grew up: North Shore of Chicago

Education: BA in psychology and journalism from University of Dayton; certificate in kitchen and bath design from Harper College; and several years in the business learning the ropes (this is where the real lessons are learned!).

How I got into interior design: In my late 20s, I felt unsatisfied in various jobs I’d held. I worked in marketing and events for REI, and development and marketing for a local art center called Lillstreet. Long story short, my now-husband and I took a year sabbatical to live and travel in Australia and New Zealand. All the down time during our travels made me realize I was extremely creative and visual and that I wanted to be an entrepreneur/business owner. When we returned stateside, I went back to school and started this blog at the same time. Centered by Design naturally grew as I gained experience and eventually went out on my own.

Favorite color palette: I could never pick just one! One of my go-tos though is classic black and white; it looks good with a pop of any color. I’m also always drawn to blues, greens and pinks.

My personal design aesthetic: I like to think of Centered by Design as old souls creating timeless interiors, helping you find your personal sanctuary. We design based on the client and the architecture. I’m driven to help people determine how they want to live and what feels like sanctuary to them. Sanctuary is not reserved for the yoga studio or mountain top—we can derive a great sense of peace from our home. This can look colorful and bright to some clients, or neutral and soft to others. My aesthetic comes from training my eye over the years and understanding what does and does not work in a space. We also love millwork, antiques and designing spaces to not feel brand new.

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The Warwick Reno – Fall Home Tour 2020


Today I’m excited to share our fall home tour! But first, let’s talk about 2020. It goes without saying that this has been a really tough year for everyone. Now that we’re nearing the holiday season, I’m looking forward to what positivity and newness 2021 will bring.

This year was one of great hardship and change, but I’ve been looking for ways to find the silver linings— namely, more time with family and to think about how to design the best spaces to fit our lifestyle. Since we are all spending much more time at home lately, I decided we should update ours — a 1932 Tudor-style brick bungalow in Chicago — and bring some more happy patterns and colors into the house.

One of the things I was missing from our current design, I realized, was nature. Sure, we had greenery sprinkled throughout the rooms, but we live in the city, and it’s hard to get out and truly feel like you’re getting away from it all. So I decided to find ways to bring nature into our home instead to try to recreate some of those blissful, relaxed feelings I get from spending time outdoors.

fall home tour

I thought it would be fun to give you a peek at the updates we’ve made in 2020. While not a ton has changed since our last home tour — mainly, just the dining room and the playroom, with a few furniture swaps here and there — doing this made me remember how enjoyable it is to photograph your house every few years, if only to help you see it in a fresh light. One thing I discovered through this process: Redoing even a single room can give your entire home a lift.

See what I mean below — I hope these ideas inspire you!

Fall home tour

How We Updated Our Dining Room

Previously, our dining room was centered around casual elegance. I brought in blush, black and gold tones mixed with sophisticated patterns (Greek key and marble) to make the space interesting, but the walls were medium gray and I was craving more pattern and color. My goal in updating the dining room was to bring the outdoors in! And to also help it to feel more cohesive with the living room, which has touches of green already. Read more about my wallpaper choice here.

Fall home tour

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Willa’s Playroom Reveal


Today, we’re talking all about playroom design, and I’m going to take you behind the scenes in my daughter’s special room. The first thing to know about our playroom is that it wasn’t always a playroom! Originally, this space in the back of our house was my home office. Because it’s right off the kitchen, it became a natural place to have our daughter, Willa—who’s now two-and-a-half—play, as I can keep an eye on her while making breakfast, dinner, etc.

When we started calling it a playroom, though, we never really made any updates specifically for her. We’d just thrown a changing table and some shelving in, added a rug and tons of toys. It still had my office vibes and once we were stuck inside so much due to COVID, I wanted to remake this room into a happy space that felt more intentional for Willa. Take a look at the design board, below.


playroom design

Choosing a Playroom Color Scheme

Red is her favorite color, and I knew that her cousins already had a super-cute red kitchen from Pottery Barn (similar here) that we wanted to bring into the room. When I came across this wallpaper from Schumacher, called the Carly, it felt so happy and ’70s. It went great with the red theme, without being too red—almost a sophisticated yet playful take on the color. This was important because even though it’s no longer my office, I spend a lot of time in there, too, and wanted it to be a room that would be a pleasure to be in.

playroom design

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