Purposeful Design: How to make any room functional and fabulous

Designing with purpose is not just about practicality, it is about creating a space that truly enhances the living experience.


Most homeowners are seeking beauty, drama, and the wow factor when they are designing their home. As designers, we want to help each client not only fulfill those dreams, but we also look at function—creating spaces that cater to daily needs, making life better and richer. This combination of luxury and livability will be unique for every client. “Everyone lives differently,” says Kathy Anderson, owner and principal designer of Eklektik Interiors. “There is not one answer. I always design to address every wish and then some.”


Senior designer Stephanie Vaughan defines purposeful design in two ways- designing with purpose and on purpose.  Designing with purpose is a more practical, functional view. Most rooms in a home have many uses and moving parts. These spaces benefit the user most, when they are designed specifically for their needs, maximizing the functionality. The other perspective on purposeful design is what Vaughan described as designing ‘on purpose.’

“When I design a space, I want the homeowner to walk into that room every day and see complete cohesion,” says Vaughan. “This means everything fits together, scales correctly, colors and textures match and flow, and we made all of that happen on purpose.”  This way of designing on purpose, Vaughan suggests, is what separates a DIY room and a room created with a designer.


Designing a home is a very personal process. Each homeowner has a unique lifestyle and therefore needs a custom design to enhance their living experience. When consulting with a client about remodeling, Anderson always keeps needs and budget in mind, while working to design the space to it’s maximum potential. “I initially look at the space with no walls at all and go from there,” says Anderson. She also asks a lot of questions.

  • How can I make this room more functional with what exists?
  • What doesn’t have to stay?
  • Does the cost of making the changes make sense to what I am asking the space to do?
  • Does the functionality of the space outweigh the cost of making the changes?

“It’s all about getting the most ‘bang for your buck’,” says Anderson, “I have never had a client unhappy about making changes that they really wanted, but I have had clients regret not doing what they really wanted because of a little more money.” Open communication through the selection process is key, as the designer can help each client know where each dollar is best spent for their particular needs.

Vaughan also likes to look at the room as a blank canvas, with the challenge in mind to see how far she can go to get the look and space the client wants.  “Sometime the walls that can’t move create challenges that many times turn into the coolest part of the project,” says Vaughan. “I think the quote goes, ‘Necessity (and load bearing walls) is the mother of innovation.’”


Maybe remodeling isn’t in your near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to the livability of your home with a few changes. Many rooms can change direction in simple ways without huge costs. “Sometimes just rearranging the furniture and laying the space out differently helps,” says Anderson. Or it may be as simple as decluttering. “If it isn’t contributing to the function of the space, then get rid of it.”

Replacing furniture gradually with more comfortable and functional furniture is another option, says Vaughan. She also suggests upgrading lighting or adding area rugs. “Lighting is another big game changer,” says Vaughan. “Most builders do not spend enough time or budget on lighting.  Adding new lighting fixtures or even floor or table lamps will give a room more ambient light, instantly create a cozy feeling where you would want to spend time.”  Area rugs can also define a space that seems to not have any boundaries, adding color and sound absorption to a sparse space.


While kitchens are the most popular spaces to remodel because they can impact a client’s life so drastically, both Anderson and Vaughan love to design master bedrooms. Clients don’t always put the time and money into their bedroom, which Anderson feels is the second most important space in the home. She believes that those private spaces that truly effect life in a more personal way can be a retreat that enriches life and a relationship. “Never underestimate the power in building a stronger relationship as a couple thru a fabulous personal space!” says Anderson.

Vaughan loves the challenge found in designing a functional bedroom to be “warm and cozy, safe and inviting, and a place where you want to spend a rainy day or romantic weekends.” While a bedroom will typically not require moving walls, the challenge is in the aesthetic construction, such as a big empty wall that hosts 3 pieces of furniture. “I love to use wallpaper and textured wall coverings, casement divisions to create niches, lighted ceiling treatments, soft fabrics, and many different natural tones,” says Vaughan, “which create a calming and relaxing environment.” And she adds, “don’t forget something soft and fuzzy to step on when you get out of bed to start your day.”

Personalize a Favorite Look

Your home is your sanctuary- your safe place in which you can be completely and totally you. So shouldn’t you infuse your surroundings with things that are a true reflection of you and your lifestyle? Maybe you have a favorite look or style that you love, such as white kitchens and a monochromatic color scheme.

HOWEVER, that is NOT the only look out there. Frankly, I have to caution people sometimes that you don’t want to look like everyone else…do you? You can take that look to the next level by just popping it with one major splash of color or something completely different … your signature, on a room. A monochromatic look is lovely but if everyone gets that look, it can be a bit monotonous and sometimes even boring. If you aren’t careful, you will look like everyone else…let’s face it, you AREN’T everyone else! And why would you want to be?

How do you take a look that you love and make it your own? Well, color and accessories are a beginning. To keep the look fresh and not too jumbled, pick one color to pop—orange, turquoise, lime green, and yellow are all the rage right now. This strong color contrast will set you apart from others and will allow your personality to shine through. Pillows, large color vases, and amazing art are just a few other ways to make your room your own. Don’t be afraid, but be careful not to overdo if you still want a more monochromatic space—just a few areas will do the trick.

If you don’t want color, add texture. Texture adds another depth and layer to the space. When doing a monochromatic space, remember to add different values of the color you are working with. Light color to dark add contrast and interest.

One of my favorite ways to add a unique and personalized factor to a room is lighting. I am a sucker for exquisite lighting. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive but unique. I would rather have no lighting than boring lighting or lighting that everyone has. Save your monies for fabulous! Plus, fabulous lighting can always go with you when you sell your home. It doesn’t have to stay. Just make sure you remove it before you put your home on the market. Otherwise, it can become a bargaining element when selling the house. Everyone loves fabulous lighting.

Hire a professional even if it is just for a couple of hours. It is worth the money. A second set of eyes can put a whole new perspective on your project. It will help you see other options and give you ideas you haven’t even thought of.

Originaly Published 12:00 am CST, Sunday, January 6, 2019 on chron.com

Going to Build or Remodel? Step #1: Hire a Designer

Have you ever hired a tour guide while on vacation to help you navigate and enjoy new terrain? A designer is like your tour guide for building or renovating your home. Hiring a good designer as your guide before you even begin construction will save you time, money, and stress. We can make a seemingly overwhelming journey smooth and enjoyable!

Save You Time

As a designer, my greatest desire is to guide you through the entire building or remodeling process so that your home is designed and customized to your lifestyle. You may think of an interior designer as the person that would help you decorate and furnish your home after construction is complete, but in order to start the building process, you need a design. An architect and builder focus on the structure itself, where a designer looks at the floor plan from a functional standpoint, helping each room live up to its maximum potential. We will help you achieve a truly cohesive design as we collaborate with you and your contractor. With your customized design plan in place, the construction process will be so much more efficient and effective.

Save You Money

A good designer will save you more money than what they will cost you. Before you go to a builder, everything from tile to cabinets to lighting should be selected. A lot of time and money can be wasted if you meet with a builder and don’t have selections made and a budget set. By having open and honest conversations about your budget with your designer beforehand, they can guide you to selections that stay within your budget, while also staying true to the things that are most important to you. Because you may not know how much it costs for every plumbing fixture and cabinet, a designer’s expertise can help you know which products to cut back on so that you can put your money into the extras that you’ve been dreaming about. The last thing you want to happen is to be in the middle of construction and realize that your loan amount isn’t enough. So many times clients realize too late that to get what they want they will have to go way over budget. Designers prevent this. If you’re working on a budget, you can’t afford not to hire a designer.

Save You Stress

Meeting with your designer and coming up with the perfect design for your home can be a very enjoyable process. In the initial meeting, we have you come with an idea book for your home. We want to learn about you and your lifestyle and what you want each room to achieve. We want you to be included in every part of the creative process. It makes so much sense to meet with a designer, make all of your selections, and come up with a cohesive design and a realistic budget before you find a builder. At this point in the process, we can provide you with a design package, or we can continue guiding you through finding the perfect builder and working with them to ensure they stay true to the design. We will educate you through the entire process, helping you make decisions along the way to achieve your desired outcome. We believe honesty is key. If we think that your budget isn’t enough to complete your entire project, we may suggest doing your home in stages or even postponing a project a few months until you have the needed amount. You can save yourself so much stress by doing things the right way instead of half way through the process realizing you’re in over your head.

We are here to help you turn your home into the perfect fit for you. We let you drive the creative process of adding in every design element so that your home is true to you. You are driving, and we are your tour guide, helping you discover your dream home while saving you time, money, and stress.