Posts Tagged ‘interior design advice’

Article written by Karen Carpino, a Harrington College of Design Interior Design Alumna, as featured in Chicago Now’s TCW

You don’t need an unlimited budget to have a luxurious looking room. The economic times are tough, but that does not mean you have to compromise on style in your home. There are many simple ways to glam up your space without breaking the bank. Here are 10 tips from designers for creating luxurious home decor without spending a lot of money.

1. Invest in a few exceptional furniture pieces. Spend a bit extra on one or two items in a room. Find a sofa with a great fabric, piece of artwork or a table with an exotic wood. They will make an impression and everything else can be worked around and decorated for less.

2. Choose one fabulous fabric to establish your scheme. Use this fabric on a key piece or pieces of furniture to set the tone of the room. You can then coordinate furnishings with less expensive fabrics.

3. Change the lighting. Make sure the lighting is soft. Harsh lighting takes away from the feeling of luxury. Place all the lighting in a room on dimmers.

4. Get organized. The most inexpensive thing you can do to a room is to get rid of the clutter. No matter what luxurious furnishings you place in a room, clutter will dampen the effect.

5. Repaint. A new coat of paint freshens up a room. Never use cheap paint. For a luxurious effect use a matte finish or eggshell finish on the walls, a satin finish on the trim and doors, and flat finish on the ceiling.

6. Attention to scale is important. Make certain the size of your furnishings work well together. For example, make certain that chairs are not too large in relation to the sofa or that a dining table top is not too thick compared to the chairs.

7. Interesting accessories. Accessories do not have to be expensive to be interesting and luxurious looking. Think of accessories that add glamour to a room like grouping large beautiful candles in varying heights, glass bowls filled with silver balls or throw pillows in a variety of colors, sizes and fabrics.

8. Makeover a favorite piece of furniture. Take a look at the pieces you love. Is there a way to give them a fresh look? Change the fabric on a sofa or change the arm detail? Change the hardware and stain color of a breakfront? Change the wood legs on a table to new modern metal ones?

9. Select deeper colors. Deep, jewel-tone colors are luxurious and elegant. If you are not daring enough to paint the walls of a room in a deep color, than think of using dramatic color fabrics on furniture or pillows, a cashmere throw or area rug.

10. Hire a designer for an hour or two. An interior designer will come to your home at an hourly fee and be able to give you ideas for updating your decor. A new trend in decorating is a professional home makeover by a designer to rearrange the furniture you currently have for an instant new look. A professional interior designer can keep you from making design mistakes.

About Karen Carpino:
Karen Carpino is a professional interior designer with more than 25 years of practice in the Chicago area and is an alumna of the Harrington College of Design. Karen’s extensive design experience includes creating interiors for both residential and commercial clients. Karen Carpino creatively designs interiors with careful attention to your specific requirements, budget and dreams. Visit her site at www.carpinodesign.com.

Photo courtesy Karen Carpino

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BFA Interior Design, December 2005
Company Name: Plank Interiors
Job title: Interior Designer, Principal
How did you get this job?
After several years at Gettys doing hospitality design, I was laid off when the economy took its turn. As a result, a friend/co-worker and I started our own interior design firm. We focus on residential, commercial and hospitality design.

What do you do?
As small business owners, we do everything. We chase down new business, meet with clients and contractors, write proposals, do AutoCAD, make selections, meet with vendors, do paperwork, go to the Mart, move furniture and attend networking events. You name it. We do a little of everything and whatever it takes to get the job done.

Biggest piece of advice to further job seekers at Harrington:
Get an industry-related internship or job while still in school. It makes the classes and material covered more relevant. And be prepared to start working in an entry-level position performing tasks that are not necessarily glamorous. That’s how you learn the business.

Recorded April 20, 2011


This feature concludes our Alumni spotlights! Hope you enjoyed learning more about some of our Alumni and their advice to current design students. Many thanks to all our alumni for your time and insight!

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AAS Interior Design, August 2010
Company Name: Holly Hunt
Job title: Manufacturing Team Lead for Holly Hunt Manufacturing


How did you get this job?
I already had a BFA in Woodworking and Furniture Design [from a different school] and worked at a different furniture design company in Chicago for four years. During that time, I decided to attend Harrington to expand my education so that I could become a more well-rounded designer. After graduating I was recruited by Holly Hunt after a former colleague referred me.

What do you do?
I started this job as a brand new position within the company. Holly Hunt Manufacturing started with the idea of creating the first-ever Holly Hunt owned workroom. A small team of others and I built our facility from an empty warehouse space. I spent the first several months on the job creating the facility space layout, buying equipment and working with contractors and vendors (all things I couldn’t have done without the invaluable education I received while at Harrington).

Now that we are fully operational, my job has shifted to production manager of the workroom. We build prototypes as well as produce production items in the Holly Hunt furniture line. Some of my duties include working with the design department on new product development from initial prototypes to market-ready pieces, creating AutoCAD frame/construction drawings to document all the items we manufacture, working with the craftsmen and corporate office to maintain an accurate and manageable production schedule, sourcing supplies and working with vendors, etc. There really isn’t anything that isn’t included in my job description.

Biggest piece of advice to further job seekers at Harrington:
First, don’t take for granted anything you learn at Harrington, because you never know when you’ll need to call on that knowledge in the future … Absorb as much information as you can! Secondly, NETWORK!!! I can’t stress this enough. Believe it or not, design is a small industry, and you will be amazed at how the people working within it can move in and out of your life. Build good relationships with these people and guaranteed, they will help you out when you need them.

Recorded June 23, 2011

This graduate story is unique and may not represent typical experiences or outcomes for our graduates. Graduates should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities in their chosen fields. Examples of such entry-level opportunities are listed in the Harrington Career Guide.

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BFA Interior Design, December 2009
Company Name: Eckroth Planning Group, Inc.
Job title: Healthcare Design Programming / Planning Consultant


How did you get this job? 
Cold Call

What do you do?  
Healthcare Design Programming / Planning

Biggest piece of advice to job seekers at Harrington: 

  1.  Do not wait for jobs to be posted.
  2.  Send cold letters/calls/emails to hundreds of companies. Try to find someone who might relate to you – a prior  Harrington grad, same gender, the head of the department you want to work in, etc. Find their direct email, address & phone – you can – it is all on the Internet.
  3.  Personalize each and every letter, follow-up, thank you, etc.
  4.  Follow-up after two weeks, four weeks, then monthly.
  5.  Attend networking events.
  6.  Stay in touch with Harrington.
  7.  Continue learning. I was LEED Green almost immediately after graduation and before I was employed.
  8.  Stay humble.
  9.  Keep smiling.
  10.  Keep healthy & work out.
  11.  Go on any interview you are asked to, at least for the interview experience.
  12.  Do not be surprised if good firms have bad websites, as a lot of their business may come from word of mouth and not marketing.
  13.  Stay honest.
  14.  Ensure your portfolio is perfect, but do not wait to do any of the above even if your portfolio is not perfect yet.
  15.  Create your own website.
  16.  Look in the mirror in your interview clothes. Would you hire you if you were 10+ years older than yourself? No?  Then change whatever needs to change because 23-year-olds are not hiring, but 30+ to 50+ year-olds might be hiring.
  17.  Get your hair cut, reduce the makeup, cover the tattoos, lower the heels. Do not change who you are, just be smart enough to know what is and is not acceptable in an interview.


Recorded March 2, 2011

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This week I’m excited to kick off a series of exclusive interviews conducted with Harrington Alumni from each of our design programs: interior design, digital and commercial photography and communication design. Read each day as our alumni answer the same series of questions around their career as well as offer some advice for design students still in college.  Follow each day for some great advice from those that know best!

AAS Interior Design, August 2009
Company Name: Ebanista
Job title: Showroom and Territory Manager

How did you get this job?
I worked as a design intern and then design assistant for Frank Ponterio Interior Design. That firm sourced Ebanista a lot, and I developed a great relationship with the showroom. I have a sales background and was looking to apply my sales experience with my passion for fine furnishing and design. I was recruited by Ebanista last summer and joined their team in Chicago as a sales associate. I was then promoted to Territory Manger in October 2010.

What do you do?
Showroom Manager and Manage a territory of 11 states

Biggest piece of advice to further job seekers at Harrington:
NEVER GIVE UP! I’m a firm believer that if you work hard good things will happen and the right opportunities will present themselves. I had to work at Restoration Hardware for three months before my break at Frank Ponterio, which lead to my dream job now. Staying positive is key!

Recorded March 1, 2011

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This feature is continued from yesterday…

6. Electrical. Be sure you have enough electrical outlets for your needs. It’s a lot less expensive to provide electric in the most convenient spot at the beginning of the project than afterward. Remember to provide electricity for blow dryer, electric shaver, curling iron and hand vacuum. Even consider electricity inside a storage cabinet for items you don’t want to keep on your countertop, like the electric toothbrush.

7. Shower Head. For a bathtub/shower combination or shower only, the shower head choice is important. See displays with operating shower heads at the plumbing supply stores so you can decide on the functions you want. Popular types include rain showers, pulsating and water-saving streams. I also recommend installing a secondary hand-held shower head with cord. This comes in handy for ease in bathing children, accommodating mobility if you have a sports injury and cleaning the bathtub or shower itself.

8. Lighting. Consider function and drama. You will need good light in the sink and mirror area for applying makeup or shaving. A ceiling light above the shower or bathtub is functional. Ceiling pendants or wall sconces give great overall light and when these are on dimmers you can enjoy soaking in the tub bathed in a candlelight effect.

9. Vanity. The vanity has become a focal point piece of furniture in the bathroom. A furniture piece can be remodeled to accommodate a sink. Make sure you have enough storage for your needs. If it works in your room, you can add a tall tower on top of the countertop for storage and decorative display. An awkward corner can be transformed by a corner cabinet.

10. Details. At the beginnning of your bathroom design, decide on the finish you want to use. This will help you to create your look. The large variety of finishes available include satin nickel, polished stainless steel, brushed stainless steel, chrome, copper, brass and bronze. Keep the finish consistent for your plumbing fixtures, lighting elements, bath accessories and hardware.

Always have fun when you are interior decorating, whether you are doing the project yourself or working with a professional interior designer.  Be creative. Add drama. The most memorable rooms have a touch of drama.

About Karen Carpino:
Karen Carpino is a professional interior designer with more than 25 years of practice in the Chicago area and is an alumna of the Harrington College of Design. Karen’s extensive design experience includes creating interiors for both residential and commercial clients. Karen Carpino creatively designs interiors with careful attention to your specific requirements, budget and dreams. Visit her site at www.carpinodesign.com.

Photo courtesy Axor

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Article written by Karen Carpino, a Harrington College of Design Interior Design Alumna, as featured in Chicago Now’s TCW

Do you want your bathroom to make you feel pampered like the way you feel in luxury bathrooms you enjoy at hotels when traveling? You deserve to feel that wonderful way every day in your own bathroom in your own home. Here are 10 ideas to help you create a luxury bathroom of your own.

1. Heated Floor. Install electric radiant heat panels under bathroom floor tiles. It’s quite easy and reasonably priced. Say goodbye to cold bathroom floors in the morning.

2. Electric Towel Warmer. These operate on timers. You can have a warm, cozy bath towel or robe ready to wrap yourself up in after you shower or bathe. A few of my clients have told me they use this to partially dry their soaked gym clothes after a workout.

3. Bathtub. My advice regarding a new bathtub is to try it before you buy it. The bathtub itself is costly plus the price of labor to remove the old bathtub and install the new one. So you want to be sure your bathtub feels good to you. It’s surprising how different the variety of bathtubs can feel. Plumbing supply stores have sample bathtubs and they are used to customers “taking them for a test drive”. At the store I suggest you place a towel on the bottom of the tub, slip off your shoes, get in and stretch out.

4. Steam Shower. Enhance your home spa with a steam unit. Residential systems come in a variety of sizes based on the cubic feet of the shower stall. I suggest the steam unit be placed within a built-in bench inside the shower so you’ll have a place to sit, relax and enjoy.

5. Toilet and Bidet. If you purchase a new toilet I suggest the new comfort height which is a bit taller than older toilets. It’s more comfortable for most people. I also recommend an oval shaped toilet bowl which the guys in your life will appreciate.  The bidet concept is making a comeback. Since most American bathrooms do not have a bidet space, bathroom fixture manufacturers have designed convertible toilet seats with the functions of a bidet. If it interests you, I suggest that you check this out for your existing or new toilet.

Keep reading tomorrow for the final 5 tips!


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