Ask the Expert: Brittany Stiles

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Creating a Bedroom Retreat

Q: I’m looking to create a calm bedroom retreat. What are some tips you have to create a bedroom oasis?-Michelle

A: Hi Michelle! Color plays a huge role in the mood and overall feel of a room so select a color that personally soothes you. What is even more important than the color itself, is how soft or muted your particular color palate is. Bright and bold hues won’t add much to the relaxation process.

Indoor Oasis
Images: (Left) Pinterest, (Right) Pinterest

If you’re not into color, soft neutrals (whites, grays, tans, taupes) are always a safe bet.

There are a lot of other things that you can incorporate into your bedroom to create a retreat type atmosphere, here are just a few:

  1. Add coziness and privacy with a canopy bed or poster bed with attached drapes.
  2. A variety of lighting, including candles, will add a lot to the mood of your space. Turn on overhead lighting to fully light the space, but use bed side tables or wall sconces when you want a softer ambiance.
  3. Having the proper storage in your bedroom is key to keeping it clean and organized. I’ve had extremely messy bedrooms and really tidy bedrooms and the difference seems to be storage. If I don’t have a place for my nightly reading, it gets piled on the floor and the same goes for clothes, shoes, phone charges, laptop bags, etc. Nothing takes the calm out of a room like a mess.
  4. Every retreat needs at least one chair in which you can lounge or read. An entire sitting area is great if you room allows for that kind of space, but one chair with a small ottoman next to a floor lamp in the corner is sufficient and it instantly designates your bedroom as more than a place for sleeping. It then becomes a space for reading, relaxing, thinking, and most importantly…retreating!

Finding Patterns that Won't Go Out of Style

Q: I have a love/hate relationship with using fabrics with patterns to decorate. I have a fear that they will go out of style. How do you select patterns that are creative and interesting, but also timeless?-Carly

A: Hello Carly! The best way to determine timeless patterns is to look at historical interiors. I can be thrown off when looking through old books or old photos online because the image quality isn’t great and it just looks old and outdated. But when I look past the faded image and the fuzzy photo quality, I start to recognize patterns that were hot in 1920 that are still hot today (stripes and florals to name a couple)

On the flip side, looking at contemporary blogs and magazines will give you a clear idea of what is trendy right now, which is fun and stylish, but not necessarily timeless. It’s also been my experience that the bolder and brighter the fabric, the faster it will go out of style. Patterns and colors are timeless for a reason…we don’t get sick of them, which usually means they are more universal and easy on the eyes.

One final route to take when decorating with pattern is to just use it on pillows and throws that can easily and inexpensively be changed out when you get tired of them instead of committing to a whole sofa or bedding set!

Using Christmas Lights as Inspiration

Q: Brittany, I’m a huge light fanatic, especially when it comes to christmas lights. Seems Christmas isn’t around the corner, do you have any suggestions how I could decorate my room with warm light?-Kavie

A: Kavie, I’m a huge fan of the mantra coined by one of my design professors in college, “If you love it then it’s always in style.” Maybe Christmas lights aren’t appropriate all year round, but if you love that kind of ambiance, there are a few other types of lighting that you can string up across your ceiling, headboard, or doorways.

Indoor Lights
Images: (Left) Examiner; (Right) Juxtapost

I personally really love the small rattan encased globes, hanging café lights indoors is also a fun option. If you are looking for a more traditional solution to your warm lighting needs, focus on candles and table lamps instead of the standard overhead lighting, which can be a little harsh.
Pottery Barn carries some that I really like, here.

Upcoming Design Trends

Q: What do you think are some of the upcoming colors/design trends for this spring season? Thanks!-Ellen

A: Hi Ellen! Emerald has been dubbed Pantone’s “color of the year” (more on that here), which seems quite appropriate for spring. I know that florals have been popular in fashion, but I also think they’re becoming more prominent in upholstery fabrics as a slow move back to more traditional design (with a modern twist as shown in the photo above) and away from all of the bold geometric designs that have been so popular for so long. It’s buh-bye chevron, hello granny chic!

Image: Decorpad

Designing on a Tight Budget

Q: I have always wanted to redecorate my apartment so it fits my style and personality better, but I am also on a tight budget. Can you please suggest a few easy and affordable ways to jazz the place up? -Prisciall

A: That a great question Priscilla! When working on a tight budget I think that it’s all in the details. Details make a room beautiful and interesting, and they are also the least expensive parts of a space! If you don’t have money to invest in nice upholstery, keep your upholstery pieces as simple and neutral as possible so that you draw less attention to its lower quality and style. From there, it’s all about layering the details:

  1. Accent with pillows, mirrors, and table top accessories from stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Target, etc. I’ve found really great and expensive looking, décor at these places. Take a photo of a high end room you love and search out similar décor at a huge discount.
  2. If you’re handy, know someone who is, or have access to YouTube, swap out your surface mounted lighting for an inexpensive hanging chandelier. This will add instant designer flair to your bedroom or living space. I recommend Home Depot, Ikea, or eBay.
  3. Search for original artwork on eBay or local thrift and consignment shops or even make your own. Framing makes all the difference, but can be expensive, so in this case I recommend searching for custom frames online on sites like, or sign up for 50% off coupons at Aaron Brothers and buy their less expensive readymade frames and mats. I’ll be writing a more thorough post on shopping for inexpensive artwork in the upcoming week so stay tuned!
  4. Paint your walls. Adding color to your walls, instead of leaving the basic white or beige isn’t always the right solution for your style (especially if you don’t like color), but it is the quickest and cheapest way to make a difference in a space. Keep in mind that even though paint makes a huge difference, it isn’t a cure-all and should be used in conjunction with the other decorating ideas.

Finding the Right Color for a Long Hallway

Q: I have a rather long and narrow entrance hallway that doesn’t get much sunlight unless I open the front door. The wooden floors are painted in a cream and black diamond pattern which I love. I recently tried painting the hallway a cream color and it looked horrible. I fear that because of the lack of natural light I need to do a bold (jewel toned) color which brings me down because I’d like to keep it neutral. Gray just seems too cold. Any suggestions? -Fran

A: Hi there Fran! If you want to keep the space neutral I wouldn’t abandon the cream paint job so quickly. Make sure the cream matches the cream in your floor or slightly lighter, but then you need to accessorize! Get some killer artwork to fill up the walls and a light that you love to hang over the entry. Light, neutral colored walls can be fabulous or really lame…it all depends on what you put on and around them. You already have an awesome floor, so play that up with artwork and a mirror.

Entrance Way Images: Vanessa and Valentine.

If you still want to ditch the cream, a color is probably the best way to go. So many things look great with cream and black so the sky is the limit. If the space doesn’t get much light.

Countertop Fading

Q: Greetings. I have heard from a few folks in the industry that quartz (Silestone, Caesarstone, etc) can experience fading if exposed to a lot of sun or direct sunlight. Can you confirm? - Paula

A: In general, all stone fades over time if exposed to direct sunlight. I’ve never experienced that personally as I have used Caesarstone on the majority of the kitchens that I have designed.

Caeserstone provides a life-time warranty that applies to the repair and replacement of failed material that has been permanently installed in your residence. Most of those kitchens had a window over the sink and all other windows were in the adjoining rooms and not shining directly on the stone my clients haven’t noticed any fading. I would only put this in the cons column if your kitchen/bathroom has a lot of windows directly in the kitchen area or a skylight above an island, other than that it shouldn’t be an issue.

Remember that all counter top materials have their pros and cons whether that be price, durability, design, color options, density, or overall style, it’s just a matter of evaluating your own individual wants and needs and deciding what is the right decision for your particular kitchen/bathroom.

This Week's Ask an Expert: Mandi Gubler

This week DIY blogger Mandi Gubler from Vintage Revivals will be answering any questions you have about thrift store shopping and DIY projects. Ask away by clicking here!

Mandi Gubler

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Brittany is an interior designer and stylist constantly searching for creativity and inspiration in the world around her. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she finds plenty of both. Her interior design studio services a variety of clients throughout California seeking her simple and collected aesthetic. Brittany believes that a house becomes a home when it is beautiful, comfortable and, most importantly, reflects the personality of the people who live inside.