January 12th, 2012 by CASUDI

Almost every day I am asked “How can I get my design to look just like yours?” Here is the secret sauce….so have fun and obsess.


1. Define your lifestyle

That’s the first thing to obsess over. This may be the most challenging to-do on the list…..you may get lost here! List everything you / your family does, every day, in your home. You might be surprised; it’s often not what you think. Take a hard and honest look; maybe do a ‘day-in-the-life’ log, even a ‘week-in-the-life’ ….. Note: this is not how you picture yourself living in the house…as in the future or in some fantasy; this is the today, the now….

2. Delete spaces you don’t use

Especially if they’re not appropriate for you currently. If you don’t cook, delete the kitchen… No, not really! But if you don’t entertain in or use your living room, delete it, or morph it into a family/computing/media room. While analyzing what you actually do every day, it will soon become evident where you don’t go and what you don’t do, so that’s what you don’t need!

3. NEXT, hit the delete key on stuff you don’t need

It’s fun to delete things…ha…that’s when fun is painful. Yes, everyone has too much stuff (unless you’re just starting or just survived a disaster)…or maybe….you’ve seen the Zen light. ‘Too much stuff’ is relative, but there’s lots of good advice for deleting clutter in your life. My favorite is Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui; it really works. Remember; it’s important to obsess over this long and hard before doing your home design!

4. Now, obsess MOST over the kitchen!

That’s what our clients typically do, and you should too; the kitchen is still the heart of the house, and a big deal when it comes to resale. Kitchens are personal, and should be obsessed over from all angles; go through the meal prep motions; a sort of reenactment of what you do when you cook, eat, compute… If it’s just all for show, define who you are showing off to; profile your “audience”. I have written about my own kitchen design, how I did it, how I feel about it after several years…it still all works!

5. Do you want a home spa?

Next to the kitchen in the resale index is the bathroom, and the trend is toward “spa design”. Since this may be seldom seen by outsiders (unless you are like some who show yourself via iPhone in your private moments…), it can be your own fantasy, so really obsess here! And there are simple solutions to make bathrooms look more expensive than they actually are, like minimize the number of textures & colors, and make the design consistent with your overall plan.

6. Colors! What colors make you feel good?

Pick a few, and then stick with them!! (with a few variations), throughout your entire space; you’ll see how it pulls things together. If you’ve chosen well, you won’t mind repeating them, in different combinations, in different places. Color can be lots of fun…..or very frustrating! There are many ways to arrive at your personal palette; as professionals we consider both the client’s preferences, and colors that work with the space & overall design. And remember; color is also the easiest to change! And if all else fails, you can always hire a professional!

7. Style! Yes there are too many furnishing style choices

Traditional, Art Deco, retro-modern, contemporary are some, and others you invent like “Harley-style” that’s all black leather & spikey chrome (hmmm, some might have another name for that….). One friend likes Ikea style; it looks fab in her design scheme, everything comes together. Another friend is strictly a thrift shop shopper, and because we started with a plan, it also looks fab…I’ve branded it as ‘turn of the (19th) century farmhouse style’. Personally, I’ve combined several and I call it eclectic; though one European magazine did label it Asian Fusion.

8. Arrangement, can be infinitely flexible

It can be broken into manageable components like stand alone “stage sets” (and think about lighting; very important here…) Flexible works, provided you don’t have too much stuff, too large pieces, or too many built-ins! Something else to obsess over: how does the placement fit with your life flow in the space? Feng Shui can be good for this and I’ve found that it usually underlines what I think is the most aesthetic & user friendly placement. I view a room as a stage set, or several of them… so each arrangement is a tableau. But be sure that each set is a coherent part of the overall consistent design (Da plan…)

9. The voyeurs’ view

What do they see on their iPhone? Is this an extension of your personal brand? Obsess over that! And do maintain consistency in how you represent yourself to the outside world; especially the online world looking into your personal space. You never know when that Instagram or YouTube will show up in your next interview!

10. Personal stage

Consider a “stage set” in your personal space. I mean a “designed, or well thought out backdrop, where you Hangout or Skype. Now this is significant to obsess over, especially if you are an ‘online authority’ or ‘guru’ of something. Do you really want the world to see all your disorganized s***? I told my design partner James about this; he thought “there’s a quick buck in creating virtual backdrops for online video engagement!” Remember, branding, branding, branding…

11. What’s your story?

Everyone’s got a story, and this can be an opportunity for ‘brand extension’. Obviously, a farmhouse, an industrial loft, or a ginger bread Victorian tells a story. My house was a “tract house” design… like millions of others… so I restyled it with reclaimed timbers from 100 year-old northwest buildings, with great patina, and many stories to tell. If it doesn’t have a ”history”, tell your own….“geek”, “traveler”,“family-type”; what’s your story?

12. “Da Plan, Boss”

Gotta have it, whether you’re going to implement the design now, or piecemeal over years; especially the latter…. My Island Retreat took 3 years, as many of us don’t have the money or energy to do it in one shot, yet our goal remains to be totally design-consistent. Check out my post on design planning, and also see how it compares to starting a company.

Anyone can create a fabulous space, large or small if you’ve had enough fun obsessing over all the categories above, know what you want, and keep your focus. An added bonus is that good planning = cost-effective, way more than you might think! You’ve heard that before! If you run a company, manage a project, group, or family, or have your own business, you’ll see you already know how to do it!

CASUDI ~ you can find me on Twitter, Google+, Twylah, Pinterest, LI and by email.

Caroline Di Diego (CASUDI) is a multi-faceted entrepreneur with two parallel careers. In the one she focuses on Architectural Design solutions and the other (where most of you know her) she helps start ups & early-stage companies, building effective start-up teams, creating workable business models, and bringing new technologies to market. Her business & design partner of 21 years is James Ferris.

Architectural & Interior Design

“Republished with permission, courtesy of 12 Most” – ORIGINAL POST


  1. Brian Driggs Says:

    Do I really want the world to see all my disorganized sh-t? Not really, but it’s something of a warped point of pride in the garage, Casudi. How many cars fit in a 2CG? For most people, the answer is “two,” but I gotta tell ya, the minute you start taking one of those cars apart, you can easily fill a 3BD house!

    I like the simplicity of this list. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. And, really, if home is where the heart is, or a “man’s castle,” isn’t it WORTH obsessing over?

  2. CASUDI (Caroline Di Diego) Says:

    So you Skype or Hangout from your personal stage in your garage ……I’m surprised you call it disorganized sh*t……isn’t this perhaps the organization you need to further embellish your branding of the GEARHEAD Philosopher? Remember ones man’s junk is …….

    Cheers and Thanks for the comment Brian…..or is this the beginning of a long involved conversation?

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