Reno of the Month: 7 interior design ‘fixes’ to give your home a designer touch

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

We’ve all been there: there’s something ‘off’ about a room in your home that you just can’t put your finger on and don’t know how to fix. Or, maybe you’re just looking for some ideas for how to update your space with a fresh, modern look. This month, we’ve got seven ‘dos and don’ts’ to help give your home some interior design pep.

As a full service home remodeling company, Synergy Design & Construction doesn’t offer interior design as a standalone service. However, we not only help our clients with material selections for all of their remodeling finishes (think cabinets, tile, countertops, appliances and fixtures, etc.), we also offer the option of soft goods selection services for clients who would like professional interior design help to finish their space. It’s all part of helping homeowners have a holistic experience so they renovate happy!

1. DON’T Push All of Your Furniture Up Against the Wall

This is a BIG one. All of the furniture pushed up against the walls just doesn’t do a room justice. Don’t despair! If your family room is crying, “Help me!”, it’s an easy fix. If you don’t have room to pull your couch away from the wall, think about adding or moving accent chairs to update the look. Couches and chairs do not need to be part of a set; you can mix and match for more of a designer feel. If your couch moves too much for your liking if it’s pulled away from the wall, add a credenza or heavy console table behind it to help keep it from shifting. It not only looks great, there’s now another place to put drinks and snacks when you’re watching TV or entertaining.

In the example below from a recent home remodel in Reston, none of the furniture sits against a wall. The L-shaped sofa provides a relaxing place to sit facing both the media center and the fireplace. Two armchairs on either side provide additional seating that can be turned towards the fire on a chilly winter evening for a cozy feeling or towards the TV on family movie night.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this project here.

2. DO Curate Display Shelves

Shelves bursting at the seams with knick-knacks, books and piles of ‘stuff’ your kids left there and never put away? Take some time to clear them off and curate them for a more organized look. We’re not saying you can’t have your treasures and books displayed on shelves for a homey feel and personalized touch, but the key is placement of things together for a designer look. Think of grouping items in odd numbers, like threes and fives. Personally, I don’t like the look of books turned spine inwards — what’s the point in that — but if you have tons of books, thin them out, or put a couple of coffee table books together with a modern objet d’art on top as a more design-thoughtful touch.

In this home remodel in Fairfax, our clients opted for our interior design help with the furniture selection and placement in addition to a total main level home remodel. This is a great example of beautifully curated bookshelves flanking either side of the fireplace. Layered lighting and thoughtful furniture placement (note — nothing is pushed up against the walls other than the console table) make this a stand-out Great Room.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this project here.

3. DON’T be Afraid of Colorful Kitchen or Bathroom Cabinets

What can we say, we LOVE gorgeous cabinets. Gone are the days when everything has to be white in the kitchen. There’s nothing wrong with an all-white kitchen for a classic look, but don’t be afraid to mix things up with color. If you aren’t ready to go all-in on colorful cabinets, adding a contrasting island color or floating shelves is a great way to go.

In this kitchen remodel in Reston, we loved our clients’ choice of this “Dakota Shadow” cabinet color. Contrasting maple cabinets and floating shelves were stained in a ‘honey’ color which plays off the existing window and door frame color and provides warmth to the space.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this home remodel here.

4. DO Embrace Black/Dark Colored Doors/Window Trim and ‘Moody’ Paint Colors 

You may have noticed many new-builds in the area have black/dark colored exterior window frames. It’s a ‘trend’ that is here for the long-haul and it extends to the interior of homes, too. From black window trim to black interior doors to ‘moody’ painted cabinets and wall color, it’s time to embrace the darker hues. Worried it’s going to make your space too dark? The trick is to lighten things up with contrasting brighter, neutral colors paired with wood tones to keep your space from feeling cold.

In this basement remodel in Reston, our clients wanted to create modern spaces throughout and weren’t afraid to change things up with black interior doors, ‘moody’ colored bar cabinets and paint colors in the home theater and gym — to stunning effect.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this basement remodel here.

5. DON’T Overdo it on Throw Pillows

This is a hard one because lots of throw pillows just make me happy, but it’s time to put a few of them away. This applies not only to the family room, but also to bedrooms as well. For an updated, chic look, less is definitely more. Too many pillows can make a room feel cluttered (plus, how long does it take to remove them all from the bed every night?!) and also distracts from other design elements in the room.

This family room from a main level remodel in Reston is a great example of this. The eye is not drawn to the throw pillows, it’s drawn to the gorgeous sloping roof and statement light fixture instead.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this home remodel here.

6. DON’T Protrude if You ‘Recess In’

Stick with us on this one and let me explain what we mean! If you can recess a cabinet (closet, linen cabinet, etc.) then go for it. Not only does it save space, it gives a more streamlined and flush finish.

In this primary bathroom remodel in Herndon, the linen closet at the far end was recessed in. It not only keeps it out of the way, it also allows the gorgeous walnut vanities and soaking tub to take center stage.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

7. DO Go Bold With Wallpaper in Small Spaces

We get it, this seems counterintuitive, but you don’t have to think small in small spaces when it comes to wallpaper! We LOVE wallpaper in any room, but we especially love it when clients take a risk in the powder room. Bold wallpaper can actually make a space look bigger (when it’s done right). The powder room is the perfect place to have some fun and show your personality!

In this main level remodel in Reston, our clients picked the perfect wallpaper in the powder room. It makes a contemporary statement, but is paired with natural finishes (like the rattan light fixture) to perfection.

Image courtesy of Synergy Design & Construction.

See more of this home remodel here.

Ready to work with a local home remodeling company who can help you with every aspect to create your dream space? Find out more about us here.

The preceding sponsored post was also published on

Recent Stories

A Fairfax County Fire and Rescue truck (file photo) A 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing drugs stored at two…

A Capital Bikeshare station at Market Street and St. Francis Street in Reston (courtesy FCDOT) A total of six new Capital Bikeshare stations may soon arrive around the Innovation Center…

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. As your neighborhood expert in Fairfax…

Town of Herndon government offices (staff photo by Jay Westcott) Terms for Herndon Town Council members will remain unchanged after the council unanimously agreed to drop a proposal to increase…


Subscribe to our mailing list