High Impact Design Ideas for Your Kid’s Room or Playroom


Design ideas for kid’s rooms can feel limiting. I often see people gravitate towards animals, pastel colors or stereotypical motifs like cars or dolls. When dreaming up a design for a nursery or playroom we want to empower you to create a space for your little one that is both inspiring and playful. A space reflective of the excitement and youthful energy that kids bring.

Thinking resourcefully about how to create high impact design with little investment is key for kid’s rooms. One of the best ways to do this is with creative design ideas that make the room feel unique and imaginative! In today’s post we are offering 5 High Impact Design Ideas to transform your kid’s space. 

There are loads of pink and blue nurseries out there. We would like to give you some simple, yet impactful ideas to help you think beyond just paint and wallpaper. To show these design ideas at play, we are sharing kids’ spaces from our own portfolio plus a few inspirational rooms. We hope to inspire you to take creative license and make a little magic for your babes and kiddos!

Centered by Design Lakeview Nursery

lavender nursery with floral wall art

Centered by Design Lakeview Nursery

Idea #1: Sculptural Wall Art

Three-dimensional artwork is a great way to make art more impactful. As seen in our Lakeview nursery, we used Pottery Barn’s crepe paper flowers arranged in a vine-like pattern on the wall. These blooms are very easy to install, hung just like you would with picture frames–anyone can hang them! Be creative in your positioning on your wall, and you can easily make your nursery into a garden-like oasis.


Ceramics are having a moment and don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Ceramic wall hangings can give a beachy, bohemian aesthetic to a nursery. Hang them as a grouping for a more dramatic effect or a single piece as an understated accent. M Quan is an incredible ceramic artist who creates the coolest handmade art and objects from her studio in Brooklyn. You can find a lot of variations of these hangings (metallic options, too!) on Etsy. They’re handmade but at affordable price points.

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How to Use Wallpaper in Your Kitchen Design

Wallpaper in the kitchen? Don’t think that tile and stone are your only options. This article outlines how to use wallpaper in your kitchen. Because the kitchen is ground-zero to home cooking, it is also home to splashes, splatters, and spills. If you cook (or only use it as a receiving hub for your take-out… no judgement here!) it makes sense to stick to materials that are easily cleaned. We’d also like to suggest you think outside that box and consider making your kitchen a more intimate and elegant location.

Think of the kitchen like any other room you’re decorating. It needs attention paid to color, pattern, hard and soft materials, metals, the list goes on! In this post, we will show you how to use wallpaper in the kitchen. We will also reveal how we employed this design idea in our most recent kitchen renovation.  The post ends with other gorgeous wallpaper in the kitchen inspiration to get you started dreaming of your perfect kitchen.

Centered by Design, Lincoln Park Kitchen Remodel

How to Use Wallpaper in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is often thought of as the “heart of the home” and a place of gathering for the family and guests. It’s hard to get people out of the kitchen! Why not embrace this and make your kitchen not only a place of functionality but also of gathering and entertainment. Consider adding wallpaper on cabinet backs, behind open shelving, or on accent walls that are out of the way of direct cooking – even the space above cabinets to the ceiling. The above photo from our recent Lincoln Park condo renovation utilizes wallpaper in two of the ways we’ve suggested, both on cabinet backs and on an accent wall.

Installing wallpaper in your kitchen is one of the easiest ways to make it feel personalized. Infusing color and pattern will give your kitchen special visual detailing. One of our favorite ways to use wallpaper is behind kitchen cabinets. When doing this, choose glass cabinet fronts to make sure your wallpaper doesn’t go unnoticed. It creates a stunning jewel-box effect that highlights the contents of your cabinets.

As seen in our Lincoln Park condo, we employed this technique on one wall of cabinets with a dry bar and on an adjacent wall to tie it into the rest of the kitchen. Keeping the rest of the cabinets solid gives a streamlined and cohesive look, while highlighting the cabinets above the dry bar lets them shine. These wallpapered cabinet backs face a living room, transitioning flawlessly from kitchen space to living space. 

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Why We’re Loving Dark & Moody Kitchens

dark gray kitchen cabinets

Are Dark Kitchens Trending?

In a word: Definitely. While white, airy kitchens have been popular for years, dark kitchens offer a fresh and bold alternative look. They’re featured in Elle Decor, our favorite interior blogs, and even in hotels and restaurants. We are also excited to reveal a new project from our portfolio. This historic Chicago condo has a dark and moody kitchen with dark gray kitchen cabinets and beautiful finishes, see more below!

When designing a kitchen, we strive for a look that can withstand trends but also feels fresh. Consider black and gray cabinets to be neutrals that play well with other finishes, just like traditional white or cream kitchen cabinets. 

Black kitchens can be striking; however, it’s not the only way to achieve the dark look. Greens, navys, and grays also give you the same intensity with bonus color depth. 

Are you looking for more information about Kitchen Design? Don’t miss our eBook, The Insider’s Guide to Kitchen Design, available for purchase in our online shop!


Dark kitchen by Christopher Peacock

Kitchen designed by KitchenLab Interiors

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Designer Advice Made Simple: PDFs to Educate & Inspire

Hello and welcome! I am so excited to share that we’ve launched an online SHOP. This is not your typical interior design shop for pillows and accessories, oh NO! THIS is an online archive of Designer Advice Made Simple to help YOU better design, decorate and renovate your home. My team has been working for six months to put these beautifully designed and educational documents together. Wahoo! Launch day is here!

AND, not only do we have interior design related PDFs…BUT we have a TWO very special products specifically for Interior Designers and other Creatives wanting to grow their Instagram audience and design influencer status.

You will notice on the top right corner of the website, we have the SHOP navigation. When you hover over SHOP you will see a drop down for both DESIGNERS and HOMEOWNERS.

MORE ABOUT THE DESIGNER SHOP: https://centeredbydesign.com/shop/designers/

We’ve created these beautifully designed and informative PDFs to help you run your business more effectively. Principal designer and company founder, Claire Staszak, is passionate about educating (YOU!) creatives on how to use their authentic voice to share a unique point of view with the world, or better yet, your niche audience. Please read below for more information on our Instagram strategy workbook, content creation Excel templates and Claire’s coaching video to help you make sense of it all!

Are you ready to get organized, express your point of view to potential clients and niche your audience? Are you interested in growing your Instagram and Pinterest traffic but need help getting started or teaching your team members how to manage your account? This program will work for you! Designed with small business owners in mind this content is easy to digest and put into action straight away! LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE DESIGNER PDFS

MORE ABOUT THE HOMEOWNERS SHOP: https://centeredbydesign.com/shop/homeowners/

Are you looking for our favorite paint colors, advice on how to organize and prepare for a kitchen remodel, or simply want a look at our most used online design sources? Click on the PDF thumbnails for pricing, specific document descriptions and to add the helpful document to your shopping cart! Our Insider’s Guide to Kitchen Design and Insider’s Guide to Decorating with Color are both multi-page PDF documents at a great value! The Color Guide contains EVERY color-related PDF and paint list. The Kitchen Guide includes, tile layouts countertop profiles, questions for the contractor and a specific kitchen questionnaire and check list.

Below is a sample of some of our PDF topics: VISIT THIS PAGE TO SEE THEM ALL AND PURCHASE

Our Favorite Resources for Interior Decorating Our Most Used Roman Shades Styles Paint Sheen Guide PDF Kitchen Remodel Survey PDF

Creating Sacred Space at Home

how to create sacred space at home

My Thoughts on Sacred Space + Personal Sanctuary:

Happy New Year friends! This year Centered by Design is not going to be shy about spreading our message of personal sanctuary. I believe creating sacred space at home is one of the most healing and kind things we can do for ourselves. Our lives today are lived at an intense pace and we all deserve respite at home.

This does not mean a home has to be grand, painted all white or look like a yoga studio to feel sacred. This means your home should be a reflection of you and have elements that bring you joy and peace. Thinking about color, scents, textures, natural light, comfort and artwork are all good starting places to generate ideas on how to create your own sacred space at home.

Our New Year event with Jayson Home, Chicago:

I’m excited to be offering a workshop on this topic of creating sacred space at home with one of my most favorite home decor shop, Jayson Home. Jayson Home made the cover of House Beautiful, December 2019 as one of the 50 top home stores in America! I’ve invited a favorite local yoga teacher and doula of mine, Amy Owen, to join us and lead a meditation and all levels yoga practice. You can BUY YOUR TICKET HERE on Eventbrite.

After we get centered with yoga and meditation, I’ll lead us in a few exercises to think about how we might create our own sacred space at home. It can be difficult to create peace and respite in a chaotic and cluttered space, so a first step might be some purging and donating! “Whether you’re religious, non-religious, or anything in between, a sacred space can help you pause, unplug, and reflect on the only work that really matters: loving the world, practicing gratitude, and being kind to yourself.” – love this quote from Huffington Post article, 2016.

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Feature on Elle Decor Online!

August 24, 2019 Interior Design 0 Comments


At Centered by Design, we love incorporating vintage and antique items into all our design projects. In some homes, it’s just one special piece and in others there might be one or more antiques in every room. Antiques add character, craftsmanship and soul to a room that’s hard to replicate with only new items.

elledecor.com recently asked us for a few tips when buying vintage. Check out the FULL ARTICLE and read what several other designers say about incorporating vintage and antiques into your home. These are brilliant, not to miss tips!


Favorite Vintage/Antique Finds: a vintage brass Sarreid coffee table and a pair of Alky Chairs by Giancarlo Piretti for Castelli.

Styling Process: “I look for weird, wonderful, and unique objects and furniture. It’s lovely if they come with a brand name or historical significance, but that’s not always necessary. It’s really about if it will look right in your design. Buy items you truly love and you can’t make many mistakes. My advice for styling is, mix and match—it’s so much more interesting! But don’t go overboard.”

photo by Cater Berg


Design Firm: Liliane Hart Interiors

Favorite Vintage/Antique Finds: a bibliotheque from a furniture fair in London.

Styling Process: “Using antiques adds an extra layer of personality and character to a successfully decorated room. I love when I find large pieces of furniture that complete a wall. It’s very satisfying. When you use too many pieces of a certain era, one can create a historic interior. Some houses call for a certain period; for example, a northeastern shingle house on the coast looks great with turn-of-the-century furnishings. Conversely, I am not a fan of too many styles of antiques in one room.”

Photo by Paul Dyer


Design Firm: Maria Haidamus Interiors

Favorite Vintage/Antique Finds: “I find the most uniques pieces in the most unexpected parts of the world.”

Styling Process: “I find that choosing the right antique is more alchemy than science. I think it is great to mix and match periods, shapes, forms, and color as long as the rules of scale and proportions are respected. Make sure what you are buying is a true antique—work with dealers and reputable vendors you trust. Learn from them. They have lots of knowledge.”

Check out the FULL ARTICLE – and these not to miss tips!


North Shore Reveal – Elegant Tone-on-Tone Decorating


Tone-on-tone decorating may sound easy but it takes a keen eye to keep your home or rooms from looking basic and boring. We loved working on this North Shore Mediterranean-style home. I’m revealing several of our top tips to keep tone-on-tone decorating interesting and elegant.

Photography by: https://aimeemazzenga.com/

Architectural details work in your favor:

When you have architectural details like arched windows, coffered ceilings and beautiful moldings a neutral palette can let those details sing. If you are renovating, spend time and energy looking at those details and how you can make a statement with the architecture rather than with color.

Side note: green is a neutral! the pops of natural green really enhance the tone-on-tone family room


Mix your finishes:

Brass, polished nickel, black, iron, chrome…the list goes on. When you keep your color palette tone-on-tone your metal accents can stand out and (pun intended) really shine! Pay special attention to finishes through out the home and mix and match to make a statement. Lighting, mirrors, hardware, accessories and plumbing are all good items to consider.



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Evanston Kitchen Reveal: Making the Most of a Small Footprint


Designing kitchens is one of my absolute favorite parts of the interior design process. It’s the heart of the home and can set the tone for the overall look and feel of your house. We are revealing our latest completed kitchen in Evanston, IL. It’s great example of how small kitchen design can have a major impact and be very functional when planned and executed well!


Evanston Kitchen – AFTER


Here are five of my designer tips for getting the most out of a small footprint and small kitchen design. Every inch of your floor plan and organization really count in small spaces! Also, you’ve got to think big and not be afraid to really change your room’s floor plan.


I highly recommend working with a designer, kitchen & bath showroom or your local home improvement store to make sure you have correct dimensions and a solid floor plan for your kitchen. This is even more important in tight spaces b/c centimeters matter in kitchen design! This is hard to do on your own as a novice because you need a program that can scale everything in the plan. Google Sketch up is free and can also help if you can teach yourself (watch videos, etc.) I partner with a great cabinetry showroom STUDIO 912, which is where this kitchen’s semi-custom cabinets are from.

These cabinets are the Starmark brand in Repose Gray tinted varnish (which is essentially a paint that is baked on for tougher finish). We also added a few custom elements like the hood and command center from a local wood working company. A few custom elements can really elevate your design!

Below are different views of this Evanston, IL kitchen BEFORE. We thought hard about the new floor plan. Opening up the wall to dining room was always the goal, but we did not know how far exactly we could open it and I really encouraged the homeowner to close up the hall entry so we could get more cabinets and a symmetrical design on range wall. We also had to drywall over a window on the fridge side to get the wall-to-wall cabinetry design as intended. A lot of small (or big) changes which add up to give us an AWESOME new floor plan.

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Our Top 9 White Paint Colors

top 9 white paint colors

White is white, right? WRONG! There are thousands of white paint colors. You can drive yourself mad finding the right one. Today, I’m going to teach you a little bit about undertones and share my top 9 best white paint colors with you! These are my tried-and-true best white paint colors that I go back to again and again.


My paint brand preferences are Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball. I use these brands and colors in every project and I’m very familiar with the quality and colors. I recommend using Regal Select or Aura for the best Benjamin Moore coverage and easy-to-clean finish. Here I’m going to show you lots of pictures from our very own design PORTFOLIO – I can 100% guarantee the color that is on these walls! Sometimes it’s hard to be sure with photos you find online!


Our most used Benjamin Moore white paint colors are Chantilly Lace OC-65, Simply White OC-117, White Dove OC-17 and Intense White OC-51. As you can see from the line up above, Chantilly Lace is the brightest white we use and it has cool undertones. It is great when you need a bright white in low light areas or want a modern look. It has blue undertones so it can read blue in north facing light.

Simply White is my 100% go-to white for almost anything. It’s bright enough but also warm enough to not read “hospital white.” I don’t love the stark white look, I prefer a little warmth and simply white has just a touch of warm/yellow undertones. Next is White Dove, which is my preference for cabinets and trim. It has enough gray where it feels creamy and doesn’t show the dirt as much. Finally, Intense White is great for walls when you don’t want white but a warm soft gray.

Both photos below are from a beautiful, single-family home we completed in the Lakeview area of Chicago in 2018. All walls in this project are Intense White, the trim and wood work is all in Simply White. With most paint colors, when you have lots of natural light the colors look less intense (like in kitchen) this front room gets less light (and so the color seems more saturated).


Ben Moore Intense White on Walls, Simply White on wood work.


Ben Moore Intense White on Walls, Simply White on wood work.

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Style Your Summer: Covered Porch Makeover!

white wicker porch furniture

Is your exterior ready for maximum summer enjoyment? Here in Chicago, our porch sitting days are limited! I am so excited to share the reveal of a beautiful covered porch we designed in Oak Park, IL for maximum outdoor pleasure. I am also sharing my tips on how to decorate your porch for summer.

Family-owned, woven outdoor furniture company, Lloyd Flanders approached me with an opportunity to use their gorgeous heirloom quality furniture. I jumped on the offer because I had this perfect porch makeover in mind! My mother-in-law has lived in Oak Park in the same home for almost 40 years and her porch needed some new life. With lots of grandchildren, family and friends in the area having an additional space for entertaining and enjoyment was really appealing.

I utilized these two collections for our wicker furniture selections. I love how many colors Lloyd Flanders allows you to choose from. We used linen and charcoal to keep a classic “white wicker furniture” look but modernize it a little bit!

Lloyd Flanders All Seasons Collection

Lloyd Flanders Universal Loom Collection

PORCH BEFORE – Here is where we started:

The following design board communicated my ideas to the Lloyd Flanders team and my trusted prop stylist, Jen DeCleene, who helped my make this vision a reality!


PORCH AFTER: Here’s the finished porch!

white and black wicker porch furniture

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