Light Up Your Life

Lighting is one of those things that not only “makes” a room but it is something you cannot live without. It can really loft the overall mood and appearance of a home. Unfortunately it is often overlooked so here are some guidelines to help you decide how much light you need and the best types for the different rooms in your home. We work with our Fairfield and Westchester County Clients to insure that they have the best lighting for staging and design.

Let’s first talk about the four different types of lighting before we get into design, use and placement.

Ambient or general lighting provides overall illumination to a room. It can be built in (recessed or underneath soffits) or added as a fixture (track, sconces and hanging.)

Task lighting enables you to do something specific such as reading, paperwork or cooking to name a few. This could be a table or standing lamp, a pendant or even under the counter in the Kitchen.

Accent lighting is used to highlight an architectural detail or focal point (such as a painting) and is usually three times as bright as ambient lighting.

Natural lighting is the light that comes from outside through windows, doors or skylights.

This Southport home is for Sale and has been staged by kellydesigns
(click photo for listing)

There are two essential rules to keep in mind.
1. Functionality comes first then aesthetics
2. The formula to properly light a room:
Room Length (in feet) x Room Width x 1.5 = Amount Of Wattage Needed.

For example, an 18 x 12 room needs 324 watts (18 x 12 x 1.5). You can and in most cases should divide that lighting into more than one source. i.e. 2 Lamps @ 150 watts each and 1 lamp @ 60 watts would be more than adequate light for the room.

880 Mill Hill Road – Home for Sale in Fairfield CT

There are different types of lighting that work best for specific rooms.  A chandelier is a great source of ambient light for a grand entry. For smaller foyers and hallways use flush and semi flush mounted fixtures on the ceiling. Then add a combination of a pendant light, two wall sconces or even two buffet lamps on a side table for an inviting entrance.

Delightful on Dudley - Family Room - Interior Design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns

Most living areas of the house require adequate lighting for reading or other tasks and some low level, glare-free lights for television viewing. Lamps with a 3-way switch are a good option as they give you a wide range of illumination. Try keeping the lamps proportional to the tables they are sitting on. The bottom of the lampshade should be at eye level when you are seated. Floor lamps are another option when table space is at a minimum. There is usually some form of overhead lighting so try keeping it as a decorative accent and use a dimmer switch so you can change the mood of the room. In the case of track lighting I like to use LED strip lighting which creates a soft glow as seen below on these beams.

If all of this seems complicated, a good rule of thumb is to have 3 lighting sources in a room to produce adequate lighting and create your triangle of light.

Kitchen - Interior design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns
Great Room - Interior Design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns
Dining Room - Interior Design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns

For Sale & Staged by kellydesigns (click photo for listing)

Other than the kitchen, excellent lighting is essential for performing personal tasks in the bathroom. Whatever your style, lighting for the bath has become a primary part of bath design. Your bath will probably require some form of overhead lighting and task lighting for the vanity. The best way to light a vanity is to place a fixture above the mirror with lights facing downward not upward. A good rule of thumb is to keep the size of the lighting in proportion to the size of the mirrors. For that spa like quality, try a chandelier that coordinates with your vanity lighting. Think about adding a dimmer switch for those times when you crave that special spa experience. It can really set the mood.

For Sale at 684 Catamount in Fairfield and by kellydesigns (click photo for listing)

411 Birch in Fairfield & staged by kellydesigns (click photo for listing)
Kitchen - Interior design by kellydesign
by kellydesigns
Redding Bath Remodel - Bathroom 4 - Interior Design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns
Redding Bath Remodel - Bathroom 1 - Interior Design by kellydesigns
by kellydesigns

In your Dining Room make the table the brightest spot by placing a chandelier or a pendant above the table. Give the space a subtle glow with a pair of small table lamps on a sideboard or matching sconces on the wall above.

As the hardest working rooms in the house, the kitchen requires a certain amount of technical know-how when it comes to lighting. Here well-considered, functional fixtures go a long way toward making a kitchen both beautiful and practical round the clock. Start with recessed cans and/or ceiling mounted fixtures for ambient lighting. Then depending on how and where you will work in your Kitchen add task lighting in the form of under cabinet lighting (tubes or puck) and pendants over sinks and islands. You can also add pendants and sconces as accent lighting. The pendants can not only serve as functional but as the “jewelry” to finish the room.

Most bedrooms have overhead lighting so when choosing a ceiling fixture, look for something decorative that fits the style of the bedroom. Chandeliers are very popular and look opulent in the bedroom. Don’t be afraid to go for it! Again, make sure whether you choose a chandelier, semi-flush or a flush mount fixture, you install a dimmer switch. It will give you options from bright light all the way to a soft, moody glow. Bedside lighting is very important. For maximum illumination, the lamps should be no further than 12 inches away from the side of the bed. Try choosing bedside lamps with three-way switches so you always have the level of light needed for reading, etc. The lamps must also be tall enough to throw enough light. Too often I see tiny lamps on bedside tables that really do not cast any real light. If you don’t have room for a bedside lamp, try wall mounted sconces. You can purchase either plug in or hard wire versions that look stylish and keep your bedside tables free for that stack of magazines you’ve been wanting to read.

Master Bedroom - Interior Design By kellydesigns
by kellydesigns

Adequate task lighting is the key to a functional office space and here lamps are the best option. Desk lamps should be about 16″ above the work surface to maximize efficiency and reduce glare. If you want a very bright space, install overhead recessed lighting or track lighting to direct light in specific areas.

As you can see there is so much to cover when it comes to lighting. Feel free to ask me any questions about it on my facebook page or instagram. In the meantime, here are some dos and don’ts to help you get it right.


  • hang chandeliers in rooms with high ceiling to fill the mid to upper layer of space.
  • use LEDs for high reaching lights so you don’t have to change them too often.
  • use dimmers to decrease energy and heat output, increase lamp life and to set the mood.


  • use track lights as the sole source of light for a room.
  • cover your ceiling with too many recessed lights or it will look too busy.
  • add accent lighting that casts shadows or impedes on a work space.

Remember….good lighting is one of the important elements of design, yet many homes are under-lit and others have too much. So when your room does not have enough natural daylight and the sun goes down, properly placing light fixtures and choosing the right ones for each room is a must to make your home complete.

Have a bright day!

Renewed, Refreshed and Lovely on Linley - Family Room - Interior Design by kellydesings

Wild About Window Treatments

Window treatments provide privacy, protect against sun glare, save energy and provide a stylish finishing touch to a beautifully designed room. With numerous styles and an endless selection of fabrics, window treatments enhance any decor. While it can be costly, I do recommend custom-made because it pays off in a big way!

In some cases, however, foregoing the window treatment is wise. If you have an unobstructed and/or beautiful view, why not leave it exposed for you to enjoy? You can also opt-out when a room has the right architectural details such as a bank of french windows, specialty windows and those with wide detailed moldings. To go without and have your room look finished, the window should make some kind of statement. Otherwise, window treatments can be just the thing that bring all the elements of the room together!

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Falling for trends… Trick or Treat?

There are so many ways to decorate your home in a tasteful and festive way for fall. You can spice up your decor with accents of the season’s beautiful colors and combine things from nature to make simple DIY projects. By bringing the season’s appealing tones inside and around your home, you can enjoy them well after the leaves have fallen here in Westchester and Fairfield County. Here are some ideas to help you incorporate nature’s rich hues and festive elements in an elegant and fun way to enjoy through Thanksgiving and beyond.

Since Autumn is the beginning of a long stretch of cooler weather, its the perfect time to refresh your home and gear up for spending a lot of time indoors. Add rich tones to make your room appear warm to the eye. You can also bring physical warmth to your space with thicker fabrics and extra blankets and throws. Drapes, pillows, throws, artwork and bed linens are some of the items that you can swap out easily and at a manageable cost. Check out my Etsy Shop, kd HOME, for items that can add a touch of fall to your home.

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What to consider when Choosing Furniture

The type of furniture you select has a big impact on the overall style and comfort of your home. So when I work with my Fairfield & Westchester County Interior Design clients I help them choose furniture that fulfills their desires in terms of design as well as meeting their criteria from a usability standpoint. Taking a little extra time in the planning process to carefully consider both form and function will result in a room that you’ll love living in for years to come.

Narrowing down a design style is a good first step. While you don’t have to choose furnishings that fall into only one category, this will give you a base upon which you can build. Here is an overview of the basic design styles.

Traditional is a classic design that includes historical pieces. It is elegant, formal and considered to be timeless.

Transitional is a modern interpretation of traditional style utilizing the bones of traditional and incorporating the stylish looks of modern design.

Modern is spacious and uncluttered with angular lines resulting in a cool and clean space.

Contemporary, like modern, is streamlined but has more softer and rounded lines, often incorporating the most current trends.

Eclectic is a mixture of styles, color, textures, patterns and fabrics. Old is incorporated with new, creating an individualistic style.

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Fairfield Living Room Renovation - Interior Design by kellydesigns

Who: Kelly Sohigian of kellydesigns
Where: Fairfield, Connecticut
In her own words: “Homeowners don’t always know their style and can get overwhelmed with where to begin a design project.”

Midcentury modern, traditional, transitional … there are many design styles, and endless ways to decorate your space. A redesign can be intimidating, but with the right start, you won’t have any difficulty creating a beautiful room that reflects you. “I always begin by having my clients find photos or inspirational pieces that excite them so we can create a space that they love,” says Kelly Sohigian, interior designer and founder of kellydesigns in Fairfield.


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Winning on Wormwood - Home Staging by kellydesigns

Success with Staging

Staging is one of the best investments you can make before you sell your house and even if you are not listing right now, applying these concepts will help make your home that much more enjoyable while you are still living there. Given that the spring real estate market has begun, I thought this would be a good time to share with you some of the reasons why Sellers stage their homes and some of the resulting benefits. Remember this is also food for thought as to how you might apply some of these tactics in your own home right now.

When we complete a staging job, my Fairfield and Westchester clients almost always like their house much more then before kellydesigns went in. I’ve often heard Sellers wonder why they didn’t do these things sooner so they would have time to enjoy them and even say “now they don’t want to leave.” In fact I did have several clients who did just that. After it was staged, they decided to continue living in their home and not sell. This is why staging is so successful. It creates an environment that people want to live in.

Staging Somerset - Family Room - Home Staging by kellydesigns

An important part of the staging process is to highlight the best features of the house. If there is an architecturally beautiful fireplace or a stunning view, when someone walks into the room you want their eyes to be drawn to that place. For this reason, the room layout is essential so that the architectural features are highlighted and noted. Clutter, on the other hand, calls attention to itself. So the first order of business is to remove excess stuff and either purge or store it somewhere. Too many smalls create visual clutter and force the potential buyer’s attention away from the room and architectural details they need to focus upon. If it’s overwhelming to even think of paring back your things, a professional organizer or we at kellydesigns can help you make those tough decisions.


Staging done right makes a home appealing and sexy and that is what sells a house! It is more than just putting furniture and accessories in a room, it is selling a lifestyle. It’s virtually impossible to stage your own house because once you live in a home your perspective is so different than those of visitors. That’s why both Realtors and homeowners reach out to us at kellydesigns to do it for them.

Even when it comes time for me to put my own home on the market, I too will seek the advice of a professional stager. That may seem strange but it’s just impossible to look at your own home with an objective eye. Some personal items are ok but too many photos and collections will be distracting to buyers and they get caught up in your life and home as opposed to seeing themselves in that space. So less can definitely be more in that case of getting your home show ready. Yes, your potential Buyers have stuff too, but no one wants to know it exists. A clutter-free and depersonalized home enables potential buyers to picture THEMSELVES living there.

staging-statsTake a look at a design magazine. Every counter is sparse and clean and there is no clutter. Note that only some of the bare essentials are on the counter while the remainder is stored away within close reach. We look at these scenarios and they resonate with us because we want this IDEAL LIFE. We tend to think that having all these possessions is what it’s all about. when in reality, having a bit less feels a whole lot better.

Now for our clients that are not putting their homes on the market and just want to get more organized, we help them by thoughtfully placing their things where they are not visible but still easily accessible. We do this by helping to organize their things and by building cabinets, bookcases, shelves in closets and bench seats that provide storage underneath. This creates peace and harmony in the home, which is what we at kellydesigns are all about!


As an interior design company we go beyond basic staging by adding a contemporary flare that will appeal to the tastes of current buyers. By making both the interior and exterior environment as appealing as possible, you’ll be able to enjoy living in your home until it comes time to sell and when that happens, statistics show that you should sell it for more money in less time.

staging-statsStaging adds value to your home. When done right it creates a lifestyle, an ideal that people would like to imagine themselves living in. Staging plays up the best features of the house so that when buyers walk away they remember YOUR home. Even though it still feels like winter, the spring market is starting right now. So don’t wait to call us so we can make your Fairfield and Westchester County home a memorable one.


Rug Party…to dance or not dance

I guess you can say one of my pet peeves is when people have rugs that just sort of float in a room and are not anchored by furniture. The rug should have at least the front legs of the furniture sitting on it, so it looks like everyone was invited to the dance! It keeps the pieces anchored and purposeful when creating your room layout.

An area rug has a significant impact on the overall character and comfort of a room. So when choosing a rug for your space, it’s important to choose a design that you love, as well as a style that will help you love how you live. When I help my Fairfield County design clients choose an area rug, we discuss the following criteria to ensure they make the best possible choice.

Style: Your overall design preference is of utmost importance: Is it Classic, Modern, Traditional or Transitional? For example, a classic choice would be an oriental rug while a geometric pattern would be more modern. Do you prefer patterned or solid rugs? Is your taste elegant or simple, casual or formal? Do you want it feel good under your feet? How high is the traffic of the room?

Budget: This always comes into play with all your design choices, however when it comes to area rugs, your long term budget is just as relevant as your immediate budget. This could be due to any number of reasons, some of which are a pending change in your family dynamic, you like to switch things up in your home periodically or perhaps you are continually inspired by the latest design trends. Silk and wool rugs are typically a larger investment while sisal or natural rugs are less expense. So take into account durability as well as how often you intend to change the design of your room as part of your budget decision.

Cotton rugsCotton rugs, commonly known as Dhurrie, are more affordable than wool or silk and are easy to clean. Since they are thinner, they will not last as long in higher traffic areas, so they are best placed in bedrooms. Rug pads are always a good choice but especially with cotton rugs in order to avoid slippage.

Natural fiber rugs have earthy tones and are rich in texture. There are a number of varieties, the most common of which are Sisal, Jute and Sea Grass. They are mostly solid with varying tones and colored borders around the Sisal and Sea Grass options. These types of rugs come in a variety of grades but overall are less expensive than other materials. The downside is that they can be rough underfoot so you may want to choose one of better quality. Natural fiber rugs are a great base for causal decors and work well in living spaces and high traffic areas.

image from kellydesigns staging project
image from kellydesigns staging project

Man-made materials: If you choose a material that does satisfy your durability requirements, consider a rug made of man-made materials. This is not a good choice if you are set on a green option, however, all of the styles listed above are recreated by companies in a man made-made material that is not only longer lasting but less expensive and easier to clean. The use of polypropylene is quite popular now, this keeps it durable and stain resistant.

Coordination: The area rug should compliment the rest of the room, so think about your existing decor or what you are planning to purchase. When selecting a pattern you want to be sure the scale of the pattern is not the same scale as any of the fabrics in the room on upholstery or in window treatments.

I help my Fairfield & Westchester County design clients coordinate their area rugs with the materials, textures, colors and style of the furniture in their rooms, in addition to meeting their style and budget requirements. If you would like more information on choosing the right rug and proper placement in your room, check out this article on my website. Remember, an area rug is of vital importance to the overall look and usability of your home so it’s best to take the necessary time upfront to ensure that you make the best possible choice for your lifestyle.

From kellydesigns design project
From kellydesigns design project

Choosing a Kitchen Counter

Your kitchen counter tops are what you use the most and the first thing you notice when you enter the room. When choosing new counters its critical to make the right decision not only from a usability and design perspective but one that also meets your budget as well. With so many options it can be quite confusing to confidently know which direction to go. I consult with my Fairfield County clients on design choices and often handle the entire kitchen renovation. Here is some of the information that I share with them.

The steps in the process involve choosing your material, obtaining an estimate, setting up an appointment for a professional to take measurements , then templating the stone and finally, waiting for your custom-cut counters to arrive and be professionally installed. Before the template can be created you’ll need to pick out all of your fixtures including your sink, faucet, range or cooktop and options like soap & hot water dispensers, a prep sink, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave.

So lets talk about choosing your material. First make a list of criteria that are important to you specifically: aesthetics, usability, maintenance and budget. From a design standpoint do you want light or dark, solid or multiple colors, large or small grains.In terms of usability, consider how long and hard you will be using the counters. If you cook with a lot with heavy pots you may want to opt for a hard substance and if you are renovating to sell you might want to go with on-trend marble.
kitchen counter 3

Marble has a timeless, elegant and sophisticated look. Despite its luxurious appearance, there are some downfalls when it comes to durability in that it is a soft stone that chips and scratches easily. Rounded corners can help prevent chips and using knives on cutting boards will protect the surface. Acidic substances such as lemon juice and certain cleaners may dull the finish, so marble counters should be sealed and polished to keep them looking their best. Marble is heat resistant however not meant to withstand high heat and is a classic choice that’s been used in European kitchens for ages. Today it is one of the most popular choices for Fairfield County Kitchen renovations.

Granite is a high-grade stone that is quarried from different sites around the world. It is highly durable as it is scratch resistant and can withstand the heat of hot pots. However, it does have its limits and like all stone can chip from the strong impact of something heavy and should be sealed to prevent against staining. Typically slabs are priced via a grading system based on the overall uniqueness and rareness of the stone in color and variance as well as surface finish. Granite is a very popular choice as it is relatively reasonably priced and comes in an array of colors and unique patterns to compliment a wide variety of design styles.
kitchen counter 4
Quartz can be misleading as it is named after a natural stone, however, it is actually a composite material made from approximately 90% quartz chips and 10% acrylic resin. It is non-porous substance that does not require sealants or polishing to retain it’s luster and is also scratch, chip, stain and bacteria resistant. You will notice the engineered look and repeat of the pattern which is most noticeable in larger surfaces. An important thing to note is that quartz is heat resistant but not heat proof. It is, therefore, recommended that you do not place hot pots, pans and bakeware think about window placement and size, when considering quartz, as it can fade when exposed to continuous direct light. Engineered quartz has a more uniform look than stone slabs. Overall it is a flexible design choice offering more than a hundred colors and patterns.

Quartzite is often confused with quartz but differs in that it is not engineered but is a natural stone. It goes through quite a process, originating as sandstone and through high heating and pressurization by tectonic plate compression in the earth’s crust it is transformed into Quartzite. When heated, individual quartz pieces recrystalize giving it a beautiful and decorative sparking pattern. It rivals granite in terms of hardness and durability but like all natural stones must be sealed periodically to protect it again stains. Quartzite comes in different shades and is a great option for someone who wants a marble-like look with the strength and durability of granite. Honing this product helps it to be stronger and more durable.

SoapstoneSoapstone is a natural stone which has some interesting attributes and haracteristics. While it is softer than marble, scratches can be easily repaired with a quick sanding and a coat of mineral oil. Soapstone is heat resistant and does not need to be sealed as it is impervious to staining. It does have a limited color palette and typically develops as a gray-scale stone that darkens naturally and when oiled. Soapstone is a good choice for rustic, contemporary and modern kitchens and for someone who prefers something out of the ordinary.

ConcreteConcrete counters are also for someone who wants something unique, a high-end appearance and heat resistant. Instead of purchasing a slab, they are built on site in custom shapes, sizes and thickness and can be easily personalized with subtle textures. Concrete is a porous substance susceptible to knife marks and stains and should be sealed regularly. These countertops work with many design styles and are an excellent choice for a modern setting.

There are so many considerations when it comes to choosing a kitchen counter, some of which are beyond the scope of the article. Some of them include additional materials not mentioned here, picking a different stone for your island from the rest of your counter tops, what kind of edge to choose, and of course pricing. Whatever you decide, with the Kitchen being the hearth of the Fairfield County home and the counters taking center stage I always recommend making a practical choice to suit your lifestyle and one that you will love for years to come.


Holiday Decorating by kellydesigns

Creating an Inspiring Front Porch

image from

Before TV and A/C, homeowners spent a lot of time on their front porch. Today, the front porch has seen a revival and more people are using them as outdoor rooms not just for relaxing but dining and entertaining as well. A front porch does not have to be a big space nor does it require a big budget to be usable. All it takes is some practical styling techniques to make it a warm and welcoming space for family, guest and pets.

Before decorating, the first thing you should do is make sure your porch is in the best possible condition. Invest a little time scrubbing it down using something like TSP (Trisodium Phosphate compound) that is formulated for heavy duty cleaning. TSP will remove deposits of greasy grime, dirt and mildew. You can get it at your hardware store but remember to always test a small area first. Don’t forget to wash the windows. If it’s not time to call in a window-washer, to do your whole house, check out my Quirky Tip below to easily get them sparkling clean.

Next you should examine all aspects of your porch to make sure everything is in good condition and working order. Peeling paint and door mats are obvious ones but items often overlooked are wood rot on columns, light fixtures, your door’s hardware and your doorbell. Most of these items are inexpensive to fix or replace and it will go a long way in giving your porch a polished look which you can now start to decorate.

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porchswingUpholstery & Furniture

If you are starting from scratch and purchasing furniture consider you
your decision. For maximum flexibility it is best to upholster in solid colors and accessorize with patterns and color. Blue is the natural choice for a nautical setting. For a country setting consider more rustic finishings such as wood and metal. For a pop of color go with brighter shades and for a more relaxed and serene setting choose more subdued tones. Always appropriate are shades of green and bright colors to reflect the color of flowers, such as purple or red. Comfy swings are always a hit and if you have the space consider one the size of a twin bed with a lot of pillows for lounging.

The great thing about pillows is that you can change the look and feel of your space for relatively little expense. If you have classic white wicker and want to create a modern upbeat look, add pillows in striking colors. For a more nature inspired look, mirror your outdoor environment with earthy tones for tree-lined settings and blue and white for sea-side and beach settings. But remember, there are no rules. Decorate with pillows to reflect whatever mood you want to create.

image from houzz.

Small porches
If your porch is too small for a dining table or sofa, you can still create a functional sitting area. Just define it with a rug, use neutral colors, upright chairs and an end table and/or a cocktail table to hold ice teas and cocktails. Hanging plants can also save space. Classic rocking chairs are always charming to look at and a relaxing place to sit.

Speaking of plants, no porch is complete without colorful blooming flowers. Using containers in varying sizes can create a garden-like setting. Consider plants that repel mosquitos such as lavender which is also low maintenance. If you like to cook, consider growing an herb garden on your porch, specifically basil that also repels mosquitos. If it is pretty and wow you want then remember the … first the thrill, then the spill, and and lastly the fill!

porch ceiling
image from

Porch Ceilings
Have you noticed that many porch ceilings are painted blue? ‘Haint Blue’ has been popular in the South for centuries and has an interesting backstory. While some believe it wards off evil spirits, others believe it helps banish mosquitos. From a decorators standpoint, blue is perfect for an outdoor space as it emulates the sky and has a very calming effect overall.

Finishing Touches
Add candles for warmth and citronella to repel bugs. Consider ceiling fans to add a cool breeze and finally for maximum coziness add throws but remember to bring them inside when it rains or buy a throw that is made of sunbrella or crypton yarns!

Your front porch is part of the first impression of your home and is a big factor in overall curb appeal. Done right, it can make your home feel warm and welcoming and be one of the most used spaces of your home during the warm summer months.

front porch ideas
images from and coastal living
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kellydesigns, LLC
10 Patrick Drive, Fairfield, CT 06824
Phone 203.258.5709
Fax 203.256.2791

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