by Kate Mazariegos

Design doesn’t happen haphazardly. Design is a well-thought out process, through all levels and layers of a room from how it functions, feels, and looks. There are the basic design principles you see everyday—scale, lighting, measure everything at least twice, etc. But every designer has principles that serve as the foundation for their work, some prioritize certain aspects over others, depending on their end goal and style. I believe that it is important to know these principles upfront going into any design relationship between client and designer, so I have outlined three basic tenets of my design philosophy that create the foundation, or the “core” of how I work.


I have attempted to make balance a focal point in my life since middle school, when my teacher introduced a quote from Benjamin Franklin about moderation (“Virtues of..moderation: avoid extremes…”). I have no idea why that quote in specific stuck with me, and at such a young age, but I have tried to find balance in everything that I do. This has proven true in design as well. I appreciate design that is neither too modern, nor too antiquated. You can lean to a certain aesthetic, definitely, but I think it is truly beautiful when you balance that preference with something that slightly different than the rest of the room, or style.

Personally, one of my favorite ways to decorate is the vintage and antique touches—in architecture, furniture, art, and more. However, to avoid the feeling of something akin to a museum, adding touches of modern art, or touches of color, or rustic surfaces, makes it pop—creating a truly beautiful room. A bit of ying + yang, if you will. Obviously, some clients lean very modern, or very bohemian, which is fine. But I will always suggest adding in some surprise elements that one may not initially think would “fit” with that space.

Balance can be applied outside of personal style. You often need to balance warm and cool colors and metals in a room—too many cool colors can leave a room feeling cold and uninviting. Too many warm colors can read very orange and outdated. You can use metals in a similar way to balance a room—brass hardware will warm up a space while polished nickel will cool things down a bit. Balance can be applied throughout all design “rules” to achieve a warm and inviting space that feels good.

Beautiful + Functional

My focus on beauty and function is one reason I decided to create a business that does exactly that; to help others create spaces that are not only beautiful, but also extremely functional and organized. To me, having a beautiful space that does not function well for you or your family has not actually achieved it’s true purpose. On it’s surface, it pleases the eye, but it is not something enjoyable to live in from day-to-day. I love that I can combine my two passions on the same job. I can help with space and furniture planning to make the home more functional, but also create a plan to organize the cabinets, drawers, and closets.

Though I have my design tenets that I stick to, one of the things I love about designing for others is the beauty that they bring to the table. My idea of what I want to live with in my home may be different from a clients, and that is beautiful. I love the challenge of designing a space for the client, rather than myself. For example, in my own home I love neutral spaces with pops of moody color here and there. That doesn’t mean I don’t love color! Color is beautiful. Just because I don’t do rustic in my own home, doesn’t mean there are beautiful rustic homes designed everyday. I love the diversity. I love the invitation to grow and implement new things that different clients bring to me. The definition of beauty is different for every person. These differences can always be implemented, as long as good rules of design are in place. This leads me to my next design philosophy, making it personal.

Function is not just synonymous with organization and tidying, though I believe many people feel that way. Function is also in the way a home is laid out. I don’t only love to come in and style shelves and place rugs. I also love being involved in the planning process, whether it be a new build, renovation, or complete furniture/room placement redesign. Good design and organization starts with a well thought out foundation.

Make It Personal

Good design should feel like it has life. That someone lives there and loves there. Picture perfect rooms with perfectly matching everything from Pottery Barn are nice. Pottery Barn is nice. But a space that when someone walks into it and feels simultaneously impressed at its beauty but yet comfortably at home, is one that is well loved. One where the owners influence and personal taste are still allowed to be felt. Where grandma’s dresser is reused in some way that fits the design, and allows the owner and visitors to feel that history and those memories.

Don’t have many family pieces to display or that you love? That is one reason I love antique and vintage so much. Those pieces have story and life. It is hard to create a space that feels alive and personal with all new everything, and even though it may not be your story, those pieces still bring life to a space. I have an old dresser in my daughter’s room that I found thrifting. The top has a square stain on it and a few nicks on the top and side. I did not refinish it, nor am I planning too. Call me sentimental, but sometimes imperfections like that just lend to the life of the piece. It adds interest; what did the original owner sit there for so many years to make that mark? Did a child have a sword fight with a sibling that created that gash in the side? Did someone forget to pivot during a move? I’ll never know, but I appreciate the life and feeling it brings into our home.

And I think that’s something people are starting to realize. At the beginning, things like Pinterest + Target brought a revolution into home design. They made design more accessible. Which is a good thing. But it’s my personal belief that people are starting to realize that Target’s newest spring line, or the latest cookie cutter trend on Pinterest doesn’t always feel like home. And now we are learning how to make design that’s not only accessible, but that also feels like home.