renovating 101

Happy new year everybody, and welcome to our first blog of 2016!  Though January may not be the best time to begin home renovations (at least for us east coasters), it is a great time to begin preparing for them.  Generally when we discuss a reno with our clients, we notice they'll often underestimate the cost, time, and ease of the project they're about to embark on.  Today's post will share a few of our best tips to help you begin planning for your renovation, and to understand what to expect when you renovate!

Let's start with the very obvious- renovating your space is really exciting, but it can also be really stressful.  Knowing what to expect in the upcoming months will help to alleviate some of that stress.  Planning is key, and will help to manage any false expectations you may have.  Below are a few of our best tips for anyone about to renovate:

  • It may take a while to find your ideal contractor.  There is often a check-list of criteria you want your contractor to have: availability, a quote within your budget, if they have good reviews, etc.  Once you find the perfect contractor, be prepared to wait a few months for your appointment because they may have a wait list for any new clients.
  • It's costly!  You might see this one and think "duh", but shelling out your money can feel really overwhelming, especially if all you see for a handful of months is in-process work.  Breathe.  Keep reminding yourself it will be worth it in the end. 
  • Have some extra savings for unexpected costs.  We always suggest you set aside 15-20% of your total budget for any of the following unforeseen expenses:
    • Unexpected structural damages like termites or carpenter ants, mold, foundation issues, etc.
    • Accidental damages to appliances, tile or materials, etc.
    • A change of heart/ upgrading initial purchases to more expensive or nicer options.
  • Get ready for boxes, boards, and buckets, floors and openings covered with plastic, and protective fabric inside and/or outside your house.  Your home will also be messy, dusty, and loud.  It takes a team to do this type of work, and their equipment will be left out!  Hopefully if you embrace the craziness, you'll be able to find some excitement and humor in the chaos.
  • Will your renovation allow for you to remain in your home, or require you to stay in a hotel, or with your friends/ family for part of the time? Knowing you may be temporarily displaced will make this transition much easier, as well as help prepare you for any potential hotel costs.
  • Plan for microwavable meals, cooking on a plug-in burner, or eating out/ ordering in.  Getting creative with your food can make renovations a bit like glamping; are you up for the challenge?
  • You may run into delays due to weather conditions, items or materials on backorder, your contractor running long on their previous project (or yours), etc.  If you are prepared for these small set-backs, you will be able to move through this process more freely.
  • Renovations are not quick.  Depending on the size of your project, your reno can last anywhere between a few days, to a handful of months, or more!  Good work takes time, and expecting a quick job will definitely make the process unnecessarily frustrating on yourself.  Remember, good contract work is an art; it requires patience, skillful craftsmanship, and time.  Let your contractor do their thing, and you will be happy with the results.  

Your contractor wants you to love the final product- a client's referral is always the best thank you!  Now that you have some of the tools you need, go forth and begin renovating!


If you'd like to work with M&P Design Group on your upcoming renovation, click here.

a work in progress

As Thanksgiving nears we want to take a few moments to share what we're thankful for.  Over this past year, we've worked with some amazing clients, been given some incredible opportunities, and have learned more both as designers & as a company, with each passing day.  This Design Monday, we want to open our doors to you, and share what we've been up to!

One of our latest residential projects is a jaw dropping mid-century home set deep in the woods of Westchester, NY.

Today's post will focus on the work we'll be doing in their stunning master bedroom.  During our first on-site meeting, we sat down with our clients around their dining table and discussed what their ideal bedroom would be; aesthetically & functionally.

Barone -Design Monday Check List image.jpg

After our initial meeting, we took our clients' checklist and presented them with two layout & style directions for them to choose between.  Option 1 offered a rustic-chic aesthetic, utilizing warmer neutral tones, bronzed metals, and natural textures like fur & raw hyde.  Option 2 offered a sophisticated take on a playful aesthetic, utilizing a cooler neutral pallet, pops of color, and bold geometric accents.  With each layout, you can see elevations of the custom built-ins we designed.  (To say our client's bedroom offers minimal wall space is an understatement and meant we had to get creative with the way we approached the storage, which for us was a really fun obstacle.)  Each option needed to offer sufficient closed storage, a place for their media center, and display shelving.  To keep with the stunning style of their home, we pulled inspiration directly from their front door, to replicate in the custom millwork.

Additionally to accommodate their outdoor entertainment needs, we designed a stunning deck including a seating & dining space comfortable for 6, and two lounge chairs for our couple when they want some restful time together.  Since the walls of our clients' master bedroom are mostly windows, we treated their exterior space as an extension of the interior space and sourced outdoor furniture lovely enough to rival any of the indoor pieces.  Below are the 3 initial boards presented to our clients:

The above presentation went off without a hitch, and our clients made choice decisions that allowed us to move forward with a finalized design plan.  We're currently working on our second presentation, where we'll offer three fully-realized design concepts for our clients to view, and select one to move forward with.

Stay tuned because we can't wait to share the finished photos of this amazing mid-century retreat in the woods with you!  Until then, we want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving =) 


To keep up with our progress on this project, follow us on Instagram @mpdesigngroup
and / or
To schedule your complimentary first appointment with Alexandra & Julia, click here!

things we love: cozy home decor

As the weather cools, nights get longer, and the foliage changes, we find ourselves spending more time at home.  Wether you're under blankets by the fire, sipping tea on the sofa, or enjoying a lovely meal around the dining table, this is the time of year when we turn our attention to what makes us feel "cozy".  

For us, cozy decor has an inherent ability to change how you live & feel in a space; safer, warmer, a bit more snuggly.  This week's post will be short & sweet.  Below are a few items that can easily transform any space into an autumnal wonderland, and though there's a chill in the air, keep your home a little warmer:


Throw Pillows
go ahead, snuggle in | | | |


Blankets & Throws
what better to wrap yourself up in (left & center) | (left & center) |


Soft Lighting
to create a warm glow (left & right) | (left & right) |


Fresh Florals
bring some of the outdoors, in

We hope these photos inspire you to make your home a bit cozier this season!

A & J


To schedule your complimentary first appointment with Alexandra & Julia, click here!


design lingo

As we navigate through our blogosphere, work directly with you as a client, or become an online resource & outlet for all things interior design, we'll be using some standard interior design terminology that for some may feel confusing without further explanation.  In today's post we're going to break down some of this design lingo, along with their application within interior design.  We hope this helps to make things clearer, fill in any gaps, or just becomes a new resource of useful knowledge!  So without further ado... 

Scale & Proportion
Scale refers to the size of one object in relation to another object, while proportion is the relation of a group of objects to one another.  Together these two principles lay the foundation of any well designed space.  Perhaps you've heard of the golden ratio or golden rectangle; a mathematical formula believed to create an end result that is visually & aesthetically pleasing.  This formula has been around for centuries, first appearing nature, but quickly finding its way into music, art, and architecture.  (For further details & examples of the golden ratio click here.)  As designers, we often rely on these guidelines to find the correct scale & proportion within our client's spaces.  In doing so we are able to design a room that address both their functional & aesthetic needs, while ensuring the pieces selected for the space are neither too large or too lacking.

Accent pieces are the smaller, yet important elements within any space; lighting, artwork, accessories (i.e: small trinkets, sculptures, and the like).  Interior Designers consider these items to be the finishing touches within a space that give it its personality, color, and movement.  Imagine you're in your favorite jeans & t-shirt.  Sure you look & feel great in this outfit, but you can also put the exact outfit on 1,000 different people.   Ladies, now accessorize this outfit with your favorite jewelry, shoes & purse - Men, do the same with your belt, shoes & watch.  Though accents are small in theory, without them your look can feel both incomplete and unrepresentative of your personality.

Finished or Completed
An Interior Designer considers a space finished or completed when the design has been fully implemented, and no additional pieces of furniture, lighting, soft goods, or accents need to be added.

By definition, dynamic means having or showing a lot of energy.  For Interior Designers its application within a space is created by 1) the use of properly mixed materials, patterns, & textures, and 2) playing with colors, shapes, & the scale of pieces within a space.  When these elements are combined, we can create a room that allows your eye to move through it both freely and excitedly.  The end result feels finished, well-balanced, and captures our client's aesthetic personality.

Soft Goods
Soft Goods consist of any decor items that are fabric-made; pillows, throws, rugs, window treatments, etc.  These pieces are crucial to a properly designed space for the reasons listed below:

  1. Depth: Fabrics and area rugs are a great way to bring depth to a space.  Layering patterns, colors, and textures can make any room feel dynamic.
  2. Grounding: Area rugs are a crucial element of design, no matter what type of room we're working in.  Placing furniture atop a correctly sized rug allows your eye to read the space as 'grounded', which means the furniture feels as though it's intended for that area, and won't 'float away'.
  3. Sound: Believe it or not, soft goods are a key way to absorb sound in a space.  Have you ever been in an empty room and heard your voice echo?  As sound carries, it gets bounced from one hard surface to another until it eventually disperses to a quiet.  The use of soft goods help to absorb that sound, and allow for a room filled with otherwise hard furniture to not echo.

Cool vs Warm Tones
Though our example below represents a neutral color pallet, every color has hues that are both warm & cool.  Working with an Interior Designer can help you figure out which pallet you lean more towards, and your designer will tailor your space as such.  Cool tones are often described as tranquil & relaxing, while warm tones feel inviting & exciting.  A great mixture of both can bring an eclectic mix that allows for pops of color in unexpected places.

Ready-Made | Semi-Custom | Fully Custom
Working with an Interior Designer opens up a world of new furniture and soft-good possibilities.  (Style Tip: Working on a budget doesn't mean you can't splurge on a great piece!  Finding a balance between ready-made, semi-custom, and fully-custom pieces will create a room tailored exactly to you.)

  1. Ready-made pieces are items that are purchased as is, and have no options for customization.
  2. Semi-custom pieces will have a pre-designed, existing frame, but will allow for you to choose a fabric, finish, or hardware selection out of a few pre-selected options.  (Depending on the store, the number of options can vary from a handful to a great many.)  Semi-custom pieces allow the item to feel tailored to you without breaking the bank, and are a great option for mid-priced design projects.
  3. Fully-custom pieces can be anything from soft-goods to furniture, art, and more.  Interior Designers have access to trade-only resources that open up a world of possibility to their clients for fabrics, woods, hardware, etc.  Designers also have custom workrooms to create these pieces, designed & tailored specifically for their client's space.  Though the price point will be higher, you are guaranteed to end up with a piece that's one-of-a-kind, and exactly what you wanted.  Fully-custom items are also a great option if your space requires a particular item not readily found in stores.

Visual Lightness vs Visual Heaviness
The way an item is read as its sitting upon the ground.  Contributing factors commonly are: the upholstery of an item being light & open vs overstuffed whether the item has visible legs vs sitting directly on the ground, and the material of an item's frame.

Feminine vs Masculine
The terms feminine and masculine do not dictate which gender owns a piece, but simply refers to certain aesthetic qualities color pallets & fabrics, furniture, and accents can possess.  (Style Tip: For a sample of rooms utilizing both Masculine & Feminine design elements, check out the Dynamic rooms above.)

Feminine furniture leans more toward a glamorous, vintage style with soft & shapely frames.  Fabrics tend to lean more toward the blush, teal, & cream pallets, often have floral or soft geometric patterning.  Feminine materials can include mirrored items, crystal or translucent acrylics, as well as tufted or plush upholstered pieces.

Masculine furniture tends to have clean lines, which keep it feeling industrial and simplified.  Fabrics tend to be more menswear-inspired, which include striping, plaids, and thicker weaves.  Masculine materials can include wood, metals, and leathers.

Negative Space
Negative space is the untouched or unfurnished areas within a room.  As you decorate your space, you want to create an environment through the use of object placement, like-colors, and height variations that move your eye organically from one end of the room to the other.  One of the key parts in doing this successfully, is learning where not to put anything, creating a negative space that allows for your eyes to rest before continuing onto the next 'designed' part of your room.  (Style Tip: Create a negative space that's large enough so the room doesn't feel overwhelming, but small enough that your room doesn't feel under-designed or underutilized.)

Working with an Interior Designer will always be the best way to ensure you end up with the space you've always envisioned, but it's our hope that these design lingo definitions will give you the confidence to go out and begin tackling this design journey on your own!


To schedule your complimentary first appointment with Alexandra & Julia click here!

things we love: statement art

Statement art can be a really powerful design element when executed correctly. Besides an opportunity to create a wow-factor in your home or office, statement art’s greater purpose is to create a topic of discussion; whether it’s a singular piece of art, or a multiple-works collection hung together.  As designers, we often run into the same misconceptions surrounding the execution of statement art, so we wanted to quickly address the leading fallacies of this classic design staple:

  • "Do I have to have crisp white walls reminiscent of an art gallery for my artwork to 'pop'?."
    Of course not!  Statement art can be displayed in many different settings, against many different backdrops, and in many different styles of surroundings.
  • "Does my art have to be a one-of-a-kind, from a famous artist, or a large investment piece?"  
    No way- art is subjective!  What we mean by this is if the piece moves you, if you feel a visceral connection with a piece of art, then it deserves to be displayed.
  • "Does my statement piece have to be the only artwork hung in the space?" 
    Definitely not.  In fact, when done properly, other pieces of art in the same room can further support your statement piece by enhancing its color pallet, movement, subject matter, etc.

As we mentioned earlier, statement art can come in all sizes, styles, and can be displayed in multiple different ways.  Working with a designer helps to ensure that the artwork you’re looking to display is hung in the best location, arranged properly amongst its fellow works, and is the correct size for it’s placement; but don’t let this stop you!  Below we’ve listed three of the most common ways to display statement art, along with a few visuals for each.  These are great jumping off points for you DIY design lovers out there looking to give this a try on your own:

The Standard
one large piece over a sofa, mantle, bed, etc.
 that becomes the focal point of its space || || || ||

The Grouping or Gallery Wall
multiple pieces that work together to create a unified look || @phillipmitcheldesign || || @phillipmitcheldesign ||

The Single Piece
a small artwork framed with an oversized matt, drawing the viewer in to appreciate the work itself || ||

Though the subject of your chosen artwork may be subjective, a statement piece will never go out of style.  We hope this post has shed light on a few misconceptions, gifted you with some easy DIY tips, and most importantly, turned up the design flame burning within you so you may go forth and make your space evermore beautiful!

A & J


To schedule your complimentary first appointment with Alexandra & Julia, click here!


why hire an interior designer?

Redecorating your home can be really fun, especially if you're updating a few throw pillows, a table lamp, or selecting new artwork. However when it comes to a full re-design, one can easily find themselves overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project they're about to embark. Often times the best way to handle a large renovation is to work with a professional Interior Designer. With their knowledge & experience, a professional designer can be a great asset to your design needs for a number of reasons. The following are a few examples we share with our clients, and we hope this information finds itself useful to you as well!

We start by letting our clients know all the perks they get when working with us, like access to both retail & trade-only stores, custom workrooms, and best of all-- trade pricing! Like us, most designers will pass along their trade pricing directly to their clients, which means everything you're purchasing is now at a much lower price point than it was before. Pretty sweet, right?

As Interior Designers, we're used to being the project manager. We work closely with our clients to discuss and determine their budget, as well as a style direction. With this information, we then put together & present 2-3 fully-realized design concepts; typically including a furniture layout, color pallet & textiles, lighting, soft goods (like your area rugs, window treatments, pillows, etc), and finishing touches like accents and artwork. (If there is additional work that needs to be done to the space prior to the design process, like a new lighting plan, moving or knocking down walls, staining or laying down new flooring, etc., we also work directly with these contractors to ensure the renovations being done stay true to our client's style direction.)

Though it sounds simple, each component of the design process is as integral a puzzle piece as the next; and like a puzzle, if one piece is not addressed within the design, it becomes an unfinished space. We tell our clients that much of the design work we do is intended to be done in conjunction with the rest, and should be sourced at the same time. (Style Tip: If you do choose to work in stages, make your fabric & finish selections first. It's always easier to find a paint color to match a fabric, than it is a fabric to match a paint color!)

Professional Interior Designers also have skilled knowledge when it comes to minor, but important details that many don't know to consider. We've put together a small list of a few of the most common problem areas we come across in our field:

  • Furniture Layout: Creating a floor plan is the very first thing we do when working with a client. After discussing how they use their space, we create a layout that takes the following into consideration: traffic flow (the way people move comfortably about the space), and functional needs (what furniture, soft goods, and lighting elements are necessary for this room to perform optimally). In doing so, we are able to see the correct scale & proportion of the items we can fit into the space, which leads us to...
  • Scale & Proportion: This plays a key role in making a room feel comfortable to be in, as well as allows for the best use of it's space. By referencing our floor plan, we now have proper dimensions, heights, and spatial awareness to create a room that feels warm and inviting. (Style Tip: One of the biggest mistakes we encounter as designers is that people either fill their rooms with oversized or too much furniture, creating an environment that feels as if the walls were closing in on you. Adversely, people will also underutilize their space, leaving large gaps of the room untouched and empty.  We call this "The Goldilocks Effect", as you can see in our visual below.)
  • Color Pallet: We work closely with our clients to select a color pallet that personifies them, and how they want to live / use the space we're designing. We'll then enhance the design by creating a color scheme which adds depth and dimension within the space, by bringing in various hues of a single color, introducing secondary or tertiary colors into the mix, etc.  Below you'll see examples of 3 popular color schemes, along with a few defining characteristics that each lends to a space.  (Style Tip: To build your color scheme, start with selecting your main color.  From there, try referencing a color wheel - they're a great way to see which colors work well together in any given color scheme!  Additionally, paint swatches with multiple shades of one color on them are great ways to figure out a color's hue & value options.)
  • Unfinished Rooms: Often times, clients will hire us after they've tried to design their spaces independently, and by the end, feel like something's missing. One of the many perks to working with a professional designer is that we are aware of the small details needed to make a room look and feel finished. Not to outdo ourselves with a list within a list, but here are a few design details that help to create a finished space:
    • Custom window treatments hung at the correct height, that have a return, and fall to the floor at the proper length
    • Proper size & placement of wall décor
    • Area rugs that sit beneath your furniture to ground the space
    • Proper usage of ceiling lighting, and table & floor lamps
    • Accent pieces that personalize & add a finishing touch to your space

We feel as designers it is our duty to inform our clients of what to expect during a design project. However, to use a quote from our website, “We understand the complexities that come along with each project. At M&P Design Group, we strive to ensure our clients enjoy the process from beginning to end, while we handle the work”. We want you, our clients & our readers, to feel as empowered during the design process as possible. There is always a solution to every problem; it's just figuring out how to get there that may require some professional help.

A & J

To schedule your complimentary first appointment with Alexandra & Julia, click here!


Welcome to Design Monday, M&P Design Group's blog on all things interior design! Since this is our introductory post, we'll keep it short & sweet.

As Interior Designers we're able to bring our knowledge & experience directly to our clients, but what about the other design lovers out there like yourself? With an abundance of awesome sites like Pinterest, Houzz, and even Instagram, you may find yourself on a sensory overload by the overwhelmingly beautiful spaces that people post. However, these sites may not always explain the best ways to achieve these looks.

With that in mind, it's our intention that Design Monday can be your outlet; your resource to find new ideas and helpful design tips. We'll keep an eye on the latest trends with our “Style Watch”, post about our current must-haves with “Things We Love”, and we'll also throw in a few informational pieces to better explain what working with an Interior Designer is all about! It is with these posts that we hope to break down the design barrier between “untouchable” to “totally doable”. We hope that you're able find your own design style; the aesthetic nuances that make you tick, and maybe you can start to create a more stylized world of your own.

Make sure to check back and read our latest posts, see pictures of our latest projects & inspirations, and read our design advice! Follow us on Instagram & Facebook (links at the bottom of the page) to get our Design Monday blog posts first, along with some other fun goodies in between!

We look forward to sharing this adventure with you =)

Alexandra & Julia