Designer Tips: Clever Ways to Add Personality and Style to Your New Abode

Home | Designer Tips: Clever Ways to Add Personality and Style to Your New Abode
By Don Ricardo Massenburg, DESiGN iNKREDiBLE, LLC
Photos by John Cooley of Chillsboro Media and Amber Gluckin of Novel Creations

You have found your dream house and the keys are in your hand. Now it’s time to make that house feel like home! As a designer of mostly new build homes, I frequently meet with clients who are super excited about the purchase of their new home, but they don’t want it to look cookie cutter or straight ‘out of the box’. Homeowners spend tons of time selecting from the builder grade options for lighting and finishes but are eager to put their own stamp on the place. Once we are in the door, it is my job to fill the space with personality and coziness.  Within this article, I will share some tips and ideas that I use day to day when helping families create spaces that reflect their own personal style.


In Living Color- Let’s get going with paint!


Remember that paint is the easiest way to create a dramatic transformation to a room and it is fairly inexpensive to do. Also, if you decide that a color doesn’t work for you and your family, is just takes another can of paint to change it! For starters, it is very likely that your new home will be painted greige- very very greige. The blended gray and beige tones are the standard finish for most new builds. This single neutral color throughout the home works to the advantage of the new homeowner as it gives you a blank canvas to work with. When choosing paint colors, go for something that you love and reflects your personality. I always tell homeowners to go with colors that they would enjoy seeing day after day as they walk into the room, rather than choosing paint colors based on current trends. It is also a great idea to get color inspiration from current art pieces that will be featured in the home, or from fabric selections for furniture. Don’t assume that you have to paint the entire room the same color.

Accent or feature walls are still on trend. So, don’t be afraid to get bold in the bedroom. A dark accent wall behind the bed can create a moody and romantic feel. It is a common misconception that smaller rooms shouldn’t be painted with dark colors. Darker colors can make a space seem smaller, but it can also intentionally create a sense of intimacy or coziness. Another misconception is that adding color on the ceiling will make the ceiling seem lower; however, using a color above can create a sense of depth and give the illusion that the ceiling is higher.

What’s trending in wall color: Bold, rich jewel tones such as amethyst, sapphire, emerald, ruby and more.

Light it Up- Upgrade those light fixtures!


Good lighting is everything. Lighting increases the overall appeal of the space and also creates an ambiance and mood. Your choice for lighting enhances all other features of a room, ranging from furniture to art and to the flooring. My rule of thumb when it comes to lighting is, there can never be too much! I tell homeowners to over-light their homes and then put everything on a dimmer. With a new build, there are typically recessed lights in the corners, or a center fixture, but rarely both. Your options are endless when it comes to illuminating a space. It can be awesome to have so many choices but then become overwhelming due to the sheer number of possibilities.

Once you determine the type of light that you need; accent, task, or ambient lighting, the fun begins! It is important to choose lights that compliment your taste and décor. I typically like to choose a certain finish, style or shape of light, and have the lighting throughout the home relate to that theme. This way the lighting in the home feels cohesive from room to room. Think of lighting as the jewelry of the home. It can dress up or dress down a space. Add elegance and character by updating the chandelier over the dining room table or add a sparkling chandelier to a space where a chandelier is not traditionally used, such as a bedroom or bathroom which will give those spaces a bit of romance.


What’s trending in lighting: Oversized statement fixtures with a touch of bling. Glam is in!

All About the Details- Dress up the walls!  

One primary characteristic that distinguishes a beautiful space from an ordinary room is attention to molding, trim work and detail.  Crown molding, baseboards, and trim make up the defining features of a home. Adding molding and trim can visually make things bigger and more grand.  For example, 6-inch window and door casings give the impression that the doors and windows are much larger than they actually are. Classic wall treatments such as wainscoting, board and batten as well as bead board are more traditional finishes that add timeless character and beauty to any room. Creative dressings for walls including the ever-popular wood plank wall and fun, fashionable wallpaper give a space dimension and charm.

Wallpaper can add much needed texture and interest to rooms that have very little structural detail. But let’s not forget about the 5th wall! That’s right, I’m referring to the ceiling. One of the largest surfaces in any room is the ceiling. Don’t overlook the opportunity to add emphasis there. This part of a room is often neglected but can make a huge impact to a space. A ceiling can be dressed in a contrasting wallpaper, paint color, or covered in beautiful natural wood to create a surprise effect and make anyone who enters the room want to keep their head looking up! If you’re not completely sold on a full ceiling treatment, try a simple ceiling medallion. A ceiling medallion is a decorative molding that is intended to accentuate the center of a ceiling and add detail to the canopy of a chandelier or light fixture. A medallion is an excellent way to add a little architectural character to any room.

What’s trending in wall décor: Expressively painted, wallpapered or molding covered ceilings.

The walls are trimmed and painted, and the light fixtures are hung. The final ingredient to making this new house feel like home is to add tons of books, tons of rugs, tons of pictures and tons of family! …and don’t forget the dog!


DON RICARDO MASSENBURG JR. owns DESiGN iNKREDiBLE LLC, a Durham, NC based interior design company which offers residential and commercial interior styling services, custom headboards and window treatments. Ricardo’s portfolio of bright bold interior projects can be seen on his website at and also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @designinkredible.


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