6 ways to make the most of the details when designing your home

A calm palette, accented with original art, such as the abstract painting by Michelle Wooley Sauter above the wing chair, creates a beautiful room. A mix of patterns and textures keeps it interesting.
A calm palette, accented with original art, such as the abstract painting by Michelle Wooley Sauter above the wing chair, creates a beautiful room. A mix of patterns and textures keeps it interesting. Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography

Anne DeCocco is an award-winning interior designer and owner of DeCocco Design, based in Raleigh.

Here, she shares some of her favorite decorating tips from floor to ceiling:

1. Look underfoot

While hardwoods are my favorite kind of floors, they often need to be warmed up (and protected) with area rugs. I think of them as artwork for the floor. You can use a lot of pattern and color in those rugs because they get quieter when laid down. Plus, there are often pieces of furniture on top, like coffee tables, dining tables, chairs and sofas.

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Anne DeCocco of DeCocco Design. Laura Mentler of Laura Ann Phot

I’ll always be a sucker for a gorgeous Persian rug — they work in every décor — but any kind that makes your heart beat faster is a winner. Invest in a wool rug. It cleans well and should last a lifetime. Using wall to wall? Choose a texture or even a patterned option. They tend to age better than a solid.

2. Keep it calm

What a wonderful, busy world we live in. In my own home — and that of the majority of people I work with — we want a peaceful retreat. A calm palette on the walls lays the foundation for thoughtful details and offers the flexibility to change it up when desired.

However, “calm” can turn “boring” if we don’t add contrast and texture. Using a neutral color is fine, but the same shade of that neutral, spread all over the room, is blah.

Do you like beige (or gray) on your walls? OK, then use a lighter tone for the sofa upholstery, a darker shade on the floor, maybe a wood and metal coffee table and a couple of accent pillows with graphic patterns, bold stripes or exotic prints.

Choose your color, then find every variation of it: pale, medium and dark. Include a fabric pattern that has your neutral color in it as well as other colors. Oh, you will love how that looks.

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The details in this room include a blue and cream color palette, contrast welt on the seating and pattern on the carpeted floor. Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography

3. Big or small, details all

I go for contrast welt on upholstered furniture every time. Welt is that little tube-like trim that follows the outline of your upholstered seating. It looks very fresh when it’s a strong, contrasting color, like blue trim on a white chair.

However, a much softer contrast can also look great, so feel free to use just a shade darker than your primary sofa fabric. This sharpens up the outline and makes the piece look a little bit different from everyone else’s.

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Contrasting welt on upholstered seating highlights the shape. Lisa Chambers

Don’t forget you can also add a handsome antique brass or pewter nail-head trim to the bottom of a chair for extra flair. Layer these decorative touches into your room to make it feel special.

4. Polish up your walls

Using original art in your home can create a permanent connection to your community and highlights your personal style. I think it’s the biggest bang for your decorating buck. Find pieces at local art shows, galleries and small shops.

My favorite travel souvenir is a piece of art to hang on the wall or place on a shelf. And don’t forget old family pieces — storing them in boxes is just too sad. Dust them off and find a place to feature them in your home.

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It's fun to create a vibrant art wall with family antiques and a variety of objects collected on travels. Marilyn Peryer of Style House Photography

5. Be cool

Sometimes details are spinning right above your head. It might be time to update your ginormous, heavy looking ceiling fans. Look for clean, modern lines and LED light kits that take up very little room.

Casa Vieja, Minka Aire and Monte Carlo all offer handsome fans at reasonable prices. The lower profile makes the ceiling look a little higher.

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Adding rustic beams to the ceiling and an updated ceiling fan are easy projects with high impact. Lisa Chambers

6. Add what you don’t have

The Triangle has beautiful homes, but many lack architectural features. Think arches, corbels, transoms … think beams. High density polystyrene beams look incredibly real and are very easy to install on your ceiling (they cut like butter!). A couple of beams adds instant character to a room. My favorite source is out of nearby Virginia.

These tips can get you started on the path to a home that makes you smile every time you walk through the door. Need more help? Call an interior designer.

The designers who participate in the N&O design series are members of the Alliance of Interior Designers at

About the designer

Anne DeCocco is owner of DeCocco Design. Her website is She can be reached at 919-612-6464.

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