Ask Our Designer!
Ask Our Designer!
February 27, 2017    POSTED IN  Character RichHomeSmart Design

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a designer? Meet Sandy!

Our Joyner Homes Designer. We have gathered together a few questions from our fans and asked Sandy! Keep reading to find out her answers, get great design tips, and to see what the design process with her is like.

  1. What is your favorite room to design? 

The Kitchen, without a doubt.  It’s the heart of the home and the 1 place I feel the balance of style & function is critical to getting it right.

I always ask if the client has a room or feature they are super excited about first – If they don’t, then we start in the kitchen.  If they have something they are excited about, that is a great place to start.  I can learn a lot about their style & put that to use helping them.

Some kitchen “trade secrets”:

a) Locating the microwave someplace other than over the range – Put the microwave in a base cabinet, off to the side in a wall cabinet





or even in the pantry. This allows you to use the hood area as a statement.  That can mean a cool wood hood

or a simple hood and a fantastic tile accent.



  It also allows people to utilize the microwave separately from the stovetop!  Many hands make for lighter work, right?  Much easier to use a range & microwave when not literally one over top of the other! 

b) Bump cabinets forward slightly to add dimension.  The up/down stagger isn’t as popular as it used to be, but you can still keep it interesting without a ton of added cost by pulling a few cabinets forward. 


c) Add “Furniture” Details like Valances at a Sink Base


 or corbels under wall cabinets to make cabinets feel more like the classic built-ins admired so much in historic homes.


2. What are your favorite and least favorite design trends right now?

Good question!  I like how it ends with “now” because trends can be fickle.

I would say my favorite is probably the warm, earthy & collected feel that is so popular as an overall design style.

Whether you like it expressed in mid-century  

or rustic farmhouse.

The relaxed style appeals to me – I never want people to feel like they can’t live in their homes.  That’s what they’re for!  Make memories & enjoy your spaces!

My least favorite is the color trend back to jewel tones.


Maybe because I lived through it before & that makes me feel old, but I’m just not a fan.  I can admire it.  There are some lovely applications

but beware of jumping on board unless you like to paint!  These are “making the rounds”, not here to stay.

3. What is the hardest room to decorate?

Besides any room in my own home?  I love so many styles, it makes it really hard to decide!  OK – for real, decorating is probably most difficult in the areas with Televisions

…we have a real love/hate relationship with them.  Love to watch them, hate to see them.  


Some of my favorite ways to “deal” with them would be:

a) Recess them & be able to close doors when not in use


b) I love them hidden behind mirrors/paintings.  You may think, that’s not really cost effective…not an option for most people, but check it out!  There are some options out there that are really not bad!

c) Kind of a spin on the hiding it behind art, would be using the much loved barn door sliding concept. Uncover for use…Am I the only one who wonders about having the doors on a remote?


  1. How can I choose a color theme for the interior of my house? I want something neutral but not cream.

Oooh – I love color, it’s probably my favorite design element – pattern is a close second 🙂

Neutral can mean lots of things – even deep color tones can still be neutral.  Try varying the depth of the same color throughout your home to add interest.

If you find a color that draws you in but it’s too “dark” for you, find it in the paint company’s spectrum & just “go up the strip” a little.


One of the web-sites I can truly lose myself in when it comes to color & combinations is www.design-seeds.com

You can also use a favorite pattern on fabric (even clothing),

or for that matter – anything – dishes, rugs, stationary, jewelry – there is no rule about what inspires you!  Does anyone remember the TV show where the girl would do a color wheel based on the interests of her clients?  I loved that!  If they liked to cook, she would use food. If they liked the outdoors, she would use items like grass & pinecones…If you find you’re consistently attracted to it then go for it!

5. Painted cabinets are in right now. Do I need a specialist to do my stained cabinets a pale grey?

You might be tempted to DIY this.  I know I am!  BUT, put the paint brush down & think through these questions.

a) What kind of condition are the cabinets in? If they are pretty worn out then you could be throwing away a lot of time, energy, money, etc. to put “lipstick on a pig”  

b) Is the layout just like you want it, only the finish is the “problem”?  If they pass the condition question, then think about the layout…again, do you like it enough to invest in keeping it?

c) Still like the idea?  Are you wired to dig into ONE project and see it through until completion – there are a ton of steps to doing this correctly – that’s why it isn’t cheap to have someone else do it.  How much time & energy do you have to devote to this? 

d) Don’t rule out new cabinets until you talk to a professional – it might surprise you!  How angry would you be if you spent your time, money or both and then found out your friend just got new and it was comparable in price?!?!?

6. How can you tell if something is going to be a short lived trend or style that will stick around for a while?

That’s tough…In my opinion, it relates to how classic the trend is to start with.

I think the things that are tied more to a way of life, a feeling they invoke, are more likely to stick around.  Like barn wood floors,

or subway backsplashes…

these aren’t just part of a style.  They remind us of a time when things weren’t as disposable as the world we live in today.  When a mans word was his handshake & craftsmanship was valued above quantity. Is this getting too deep? 😉

It can be frightening to decide how far we get into a trend – If you are investing in something on the higher end – like a quality sofa, new flooring for a large area, or new Natural Stone countertops…I would stay with classic lines & neutral colors.

Take advantage of the fun & flirty trends with things like pillows, accessories of all kinds, or inexpensive curtain panels.  Things that you can change out when you are tired of them.

7. What is your favorite style?

I honestly don’t have a favorite.  I think that’s why I love what I do for a living.  I get to live vicariously through our clients.

Check out my Pinterest or Houzz accounts and you’ll see what I mean!  It’s a little modern, farmhouse, craftsman….

8. How do you help your clients find the right styles for their homes?

I let the design choices they’ve already made for the home & their lifestyle dictate my recommendations on their home.  I think that is crucial to a well-designed new home.  They have already put a lot of thought into the overall plan.  If they want it to be open so they can see young children in several areas of the home from the kitchen; if they want a tricked out mudroom for all their dogs…  I need to be considerate of those decisions.  I try to think of it as a cake that’s already been baked & I’m recommending the best icing to complement the flavor.

In general, a person’s style is often highly impacted by their lifestyle.  Do they entertain a lot?  Do they love to read?  Are they fitness fanatics?  Once you understand their needs you are qualified to discuss how you can help them achieve their design goals.  My job is 2 parts discovery & 1 part design.

I do ask if people have used Pinterest or Houzz to capture their ideas.  If you want to clearly communicate a style, a pictures worth a thousand words is VERY true!  Use any tools at your disposal to be sure you & your designer are on the same page.

9. What has been your favorite project/room/piece you’ve designed so far in your career?

I think I would have to say the home on Fortville Pike.

The homeowners were not timid about designing something more modern than most of our homes.   The home was a fantastic blend of durable, simple finishes and splashes of contemporary glamour.  It fit the family dynamic perfectly…stylish & cool parents with energetic young boys.  Some of my favorite components of the design were Natural Cedar stain on the exterior with the deep blue paint,  the Brushed Bronze fixtures in the kitchen, the Owner’s Shower, & the Powder Room.


10. What advice would you give to clients in the home building process when it comes to designing their home? 

I would advise transparency.  The entire process, from start to finish, works best if everyone is fully candid.  Building a home is normally the largest investment people make in their lives.  Even if there were never a single thing to discuss after signing the initial agreement, there is a ton of stress involved. Trust is essential – make sure you are talking to your significant other, your builder, your designer, your superintendent.  Sometimes we have to have difficult conversations about how to balance choices, or a desired option that simply doesn’t work in a layout.  A foundation of trust with each other is what makes it work.