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A Look Inside Designers' Homes

In HGTV Magazine, three furniture and accessories makers share the insider tricks they use at home.

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Expert 1: The furniture designer at her table

Lauren Russell, Maine Cottage
Best known for: Wooden tables, dressers, chairs and armoires painted in vibrant, eco-friendly finishes

Take it from an insider:

  • Secret color strategy: "If you're nervous about bringing in color, choose pieces in different shades of one hue. You can’t mess that up, I promise! That's why I have five shades of green in my dining room, including chartreuse chairs and a palm-colored table."
  • Quick cleaning trick: "Oil-based wood cleaners can leave residue and distort the color of painted furniture. Mild soap and water does a fine job of cleaning it."
  • People always ask me: "What's the best way to paint furniture yourself? Use a white sponge roller that has no nap (pile). It leaves the smoothest finish with no brush marks. For thin legs, like on chairs, use a small sponge brush."

Expert 2: The rug designer in her living room

Malene Barnett, Malene B Custom Handmade Carpets
Best known for: High-quality rugs in a huge range of colors and modern global-inspired patterns, using materials like New Zealand wool and Chinese silk

Take it from an insider:

  • Rug color motto: "You don’t have to decide between bright walls and a colorful rug — do both! Pick one shade in a multicolored rug and paint the walls that color, like I did in my living room with teal. It makes the space look pulled together."
  • Most-common rug mistake: "The placement. People often put their rug all the way against the wall and their sofa right on top of it, also backed up to the wall. A better look is to leave about a foot of space between the wall and the edge of the rug, and rest only the front legs of your sofa on top of the rug."
  • People don’t know that: "You should rotate your rug 180 degrees every three to four months — that way it will wear evenly."

Expert 3: The pillow designer on her sofa

Judy Ross, Judy Ross Textiles
Best known for: Graphic-print and hand-embroidered pillows, plus a line of scarves, rugs and fabrics by the yard in similar patterns

Take it from an insider:

  • Mix-and-match strategy: "I’m easygoing about picking pillows. I tell people just to find designs you love and choose a bunch of fun colors that work with the room. I do follow a simple size guideline, though: I almost always go with 18" x 18" pillows since they’re big enough to be supportive but never overwhelming on a couch or bed."
  • Buying secret: "Choose inserts that are two inches bigger than the cases. It gives pillows a fuller, plusher look."
  • People always ask me: "Whether the two pillows on the ends of the sofa have to match. The answer is no. Sure, you can do pairs, but I think an imbalance is more fun."

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