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Cabinets-to Reface or Replace? That is the question.


Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom is a great way to add value and update your home. These rooms are two of the the most important rooms in your home to buyers when they are shopping for their dream home. You will recoup more of the money invested in a remodel by updating these rooms than any other rooms in your home. A complete kitchen remodel including replacing cabinets can be quite expensive since it is labor intensive involving tear out, building new cabinets, plumbing, electrical, and finally installation. Add to that the cost of materials-cabinets, counters, backsplash, sink, hardware, plumbing, appliances, etc. If you’re on a tighter budget or happy with your cabinets and just want a newer look, an affordable option is to simply reface the existing cabinets.

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Aging In Place

In 2011, the first of the baby boom generation reached what used to be known as retirement age. And for the next 18 years, boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day, according to AARP. As this unique group grows older, it will likely transform the institutions of aging — just as it has done to other aspects of American life. Will boomers redefine this life stage? Most experts believe so. The boomer generation is more active, youthful and less likely to “embrace” aging as previous generations have. They want to remain independent as long as possible maintaining their lifestyle and home.

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2014 Interior Design Trends

0212141409The 2014 Las Vegas winter furniture market was held this past February. The market that is held twice a year features hundreds of vendors in the World Market Center. Each vendor showcases their newest products for store buyers and designers. Buyers and designers shop the market to discover the latest products and trends in home furnishings. The market is a great indicator of what we can expect to see in stores in the coming year and educates us designers on the latest looks to create for our clients. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that emerged from the 2014 winter market.

Colors: Neutral colors are still and always will be very popular in home décor. Exotic prints in fabrics and wall coverings are toned down with sophisticated neutral hues. This year think of adding bold, pure colors like peacock blue, navy, orange and yellow as accents in a room. Bold citrus colors when mixed with white, are beautifully crisp and upbeat-think papaya, coral and tangerine. Bold colors can be introduced as an accent wall, sofa or chair against a neutral wall or by using colorful decorative accessories throughout the space. This year we will see more gold used in lighting fixtures, mirrors and accessories.

Global Influence: Hand crafted, brightly colored ceramics, baskets, plates, and statues from all over the world-China, Tibet, Peru, Brazil, India and Africa provide a beautiful pop of color and texture to a room. Think global traveler for an eclectic decor. Baskets and plates look beautiful when displayed in groups on a wall or table.

Industrial: The industrial look still remains strong. This “Restoration Hardware” style has grown in popularity as companies like “Pottery Barn” and others are featuring the look. To soften the hard edged style the new approach is pairing industrial tables with upholstered traditional, tufted chairs. This style has a very cool, urban look and broad appeal especially with the younger customer. Other industrial items include metal lockers used for storage, steel or metal accessories, vintage signs and old black and white photography art.

Eco-Friendly: Reclaimed, recycled or sustainable materials will be a strong trend in 2014. The look includes furniture made from reclaimed or recycled wood sometimes paired with metal feet or top and often distressed for an even greater aged appearance.

Mid-Century: Mid-Century continues to be popular with a lot of manufacturers. It’s classic modern look fits well in 2014 interiors so plan on seeing more of it in the coming year.

Upholstery: More traditional detailing in upholstery pieces will be seen everywhere this year. Tufting on sofas, chairs, benches and headboards are important this year. In addition to tufting, nail heads add extra detailing on furniture pieces that you will see this year as well.

These are a few of the trends you will be seeing this year. Lifestyle furniture stores can give you ideas on how to put the looks together. Designing a room, however, can still be a daunting experience and you should avoid designing a room that looks like a cookie cutter store showroom. You should aim for uniqueness, incorporating your personality in the style that suits you best. For a professional perspective, be sure to consult an interior designer for help in pulling your looks together.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar, IDS, owner and principle designer Rancho Interior Design.

How to Decorate Small Spaces

On a recent episode of Good Morning America, celebrity Interior Designer, Jonathan Adler took on the challenge of decorating Lara Spencer’s small dressing room.  The room was tiny, cluttered and lacked style. Lara, GMA co-host known for being design savvy and author of “I Brake for Yard Sales” was stumped on how to begin to decorate her own space. That happens to a lot of us, even designers who design and decorate other people’s homes for a living. The process began by de-cluttering, a must for small spaces. Then Spencer’s dressing room was transformed by adding a mix of patterns using wallpaper and fabrics. He replaced basic open shelving with two yard sale find chests which were refinished and repurposed as storage units. He covered her Formica dressing counter in contact paper which instantly transformed it. What a great idea! Draperies were added to surround a daybed. Decorative pillows and a patterned throw were added on top of the bed. A small chandelier was hung over the bed which added a bit of glam and sparkle to the room. And finally a graphic rug was added to rug anchor the room. There is a lot of pattern and color in the small space but it works.  Lara asked Adler what his number one tip would be for decorating a small space. His answer was, “make it personal and it will make you happy”.


Small space decorating whether it is an apartment, condo or small home has its challenges but learning some professional tips to make the most of your square footage can help you create a stylish and functional space. Like Adler, I agree that color and pattern will add style and personality to a room. Do not be afraid to use wall colors to visually expand the space and mix patterns that are cohesive and complement your design style. The floor plan is critical for a small space. Your furniture arrangement should be functional for your daily life. You can always bring in pieces from other rooms when entertaining. Do not clutter your room with too much or inappropriately scaled furniture. Consider smaller scale furniture and pieces that can be multi-functional. To keep a small and open space from feeling closed in, avoid tall pieces of furniture so the sight lines extend across the room.  Tall pieces such as bookcases should be placed along walls. Glass top tables with minimal bases add little visual weight to a room as do open back chairs so they are good choices for a small space. Avoid heavy, oversized pieces.

For your dining area, choose tables with leaves. The table can stay small on a day-to-day basis and not overwhelm your dining area. When extra space is needed for entertaining or projects just add the leaves. A drop leaf table works too. Built-in banquettes are a great way to provide seating in a small kitchen or dining room. They also offer extra storage beneath the bench.  A rolling island cart is portable and can be used as an extra work surface and storage for pots or dishes. In small bedrooms, limit the amount of furniture. Choose the appropriate sized bed and smaller night stands. Take advantage of the walls for lighting and shelves. Wall mounted sconces are great for lighting on either side of the bed. In secondary bedrooms a wall bed is a smart option. They can be pulled down when needed then tucked up and out of the way when not in use. They are available with shelving and desks units so they are a great solution for a guest bedroom/office situation.

Finish your rooms with art and accessories. Do not decorate every wall. Create interest on focal walls. Remember, my motto is-restraint is best especially in small spaces.  Mirrors are a great way to visually expand a space. They can literally make the room look twice its size when placed in the right spot like a focal dining or living room wall. This is the one piece that I would say go big because of the impact they can have on a room.  As always when in doubt consult an Interior Designer for help.  Choosing colors and patterns that work well together as well as the proper size and scaled furniture is not easy for most homeowners.  A design consultation would be well worth the money and time invested to create your lovely small space.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar is the owner and principle Interior Designer of Rancho InteriorDesign.

For an appointment call her at 951-956-0661 or email her at Cynthia@ranchointeriordesign.com


What to Look for When Shopping for Furniture

If you have ever gone furniture shopping you know how daunting the job can be. With so many choices in styles and broad range of prices it’s often hard to know what to buy. Furniture is an investment. You should buy pieces that not only look good and fit your style but are also well constructed and durable. Knowing what to look for in furniture will save you money and heartache. Buying furniture that looks good in the showroom but is shoddily made will not last and will need to be replaced in a short time.  Here are some key things to look for when shopping for furniture.

1. Wood-When you are looking for wood furniture you want to select a piece that is constructed out of reasonably scratch resistant wood. It’s easy to test the surface by running your fingernail along the surface. If there is a visible dent you know the surface is not very durable.  Check the wood for knots, even on unexposed pieces; all knots are susceptible to cracks. Some woods, like pine, are ‘knottier’ than others, and therefore less desirable. Avoid particleboard, pressed wood, or fiberboard. Some furniture companies use lower grade woods with a veneer covering. The drawback to veneer is that you are limited to how many times you can refinish the piece. Other companies produce furniture with a photo finish, so you really have to be careful and examine the piece inside and out.

2. Construction– The best joints are either dovetail or mortise and tenon with reinforced block corners. Anything held together with staples or nails is shoddy construction. Drawers should have a dust panel which is a thin sheet of wood between them. Drawers should glide smoothly and have a stop to prevent accidentally pulling it out. Check to see if the piece is level and does not squeak or wobble.

3. Upholstery Frames-When it comes to upholstered furniture look for frames made of kiln-dried hardwood. In a good quality frame, joints are glued, dowelled and screwed and the corners are reinforced with wood blocks. These provide extra support. The springs used should be close together and have even resistance. Eight way hand tied coil springs, coil, sinuous and grid springs all work well. Test the feel by sitting on the piece in various spots.

4. Cushions-Check the fill in the cushions. You can easily do this by unzipping one of the cushions. They should have a Dacron, cotton or down wrapped high density foam fill and inner muslin cover. Foam only cushions are less durable and less comfortable and will also lose their shape over time. Be sure the cushions are reversible, too to get twice the wear.

5. Fabrics– When choosing fabrics for upholstery, choose an appropriate fabric for the function of the piece.  Durable fabric such as microfiber or chenille that can easily be cleaned would be a great choice for a family room sofa and chairs whereas a bedroom chair that gets little use can be made with a lighter fabric. Ask about the rub rating. Fabric strength is determined by how it rates on the double rub test, which is a back and forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat. 3,000 double rubs equals one year’s worth of use. Heave duty is rated as 15,000 double rubs or more, medium duty is 9,000-15,000, light duty is 3,000-9,000 and delicate duty is 3,000 or less. Delicate fabrics should not be used for upholstery. Be sure the manufacturer matches patterns exactly both ways.  Less expensive manufacturers will not do this so you end up with furniture that does not match well.

When considering purchasing furnishings it’s a good idea to hire an Interior Designer who is trained in all aspects of selecting furnishings and can buy directly from quality manufacturers. The investment you make will be worth avoiding costly mistakes.

For an appointment call her at 951-956-0661 or email her at Cynthia@ranchointeriordesign.com


Creating a Kid Friendly and Stylish Home


I’m often asked this question: Can you create a home design plan for us that are both stylish and kid friendly? In my design practice, I am faced with this challenge all the time. For the most part, my clients have families with kids of various ages and requirements. My answer is yes, you can have a stylish home that is kid friendly as long as you plan well and purchase wisely.

Once you have decided on the design style you want for your interior, determine what spaces will be designated for the kid’s rooms and activities. Kids need to know there are places in your home where they are allowed to play safely and comfortably. Plan your budget for the project. Contrary to what you may think, you should invest in well constructed furnishings for the rooms that will get the most use from an active family. Plan on spending a good part of your budget on those rooms which are typically  the great room, family room and kid’s rooms. If you purchase furniture that looks OK but is not well made, you will end up having to replace them in a short time because they did not hold up. Poorly made furniture will simply not last. For upholstered furnishings, chose well made pieces and durable, strong fabrics that can be easily cleaned. Choose colors or patterns versus neutral colors that will maintain its new look longer. For tables and case goods, avoid glass tops and stick to stronger materials like solid wood. Use enamel based paint for your walls. Behr Paints has a flat enamel which is great as it has a nice flat finish and allows for easy cleaning. Be careful with the window treatments your chose for your home to avoid any strangulation dangers. Cordless shades, drapery panels and shutters are good choices. Consider wood or laminate flooring and tile throughout your home and use area rugs to add color, warmth and define seating areas. These types of flooring are initially more expensive than carpet but they are easier to keep clean and you will never have to replace them. Carpeting is a nice choice for the master bedroom and guest rooms that don’t get the heavy traffic that family rooms do.

Kid’s rooms and playrooms should be planned for safety and easy cleaning. Plan a room or space where the kids can spread out, be creative and have fun without worrying about them damaging furniture, walls, fabrics and carpet. The theme of the rooms can be determined by your kids favorite sports, heroes, characters, etc. and do not have to “match” the design style of the rest of the home. Keep the room bright and fun. If you choose a neutral wall color, you can easily and affordably change the theme with pictures and accessories as the kids grow and their “favorites” change. Try painting one wall with chalkboard paints. Kids can draw on the walls with chalk without causing any damage. Chalkboard paint now is available in colors, too. There is also a magnetic paint available that creates a surface that magnets adhere to for posting artwork, schoolwork, decorations and anything that can be hung by a magnet eliminating holes in your walls from nails and thumb tacks. Another great way to decorate walls is with decals. Wall decals come in a myriad of styles and are easily removed when the kids want to change the theme of their room. Ideally a kids room should provide your kids with a place to do artwork, play games, work on puzzles and projects (like a little table and chairs), floor space for play, plenty of storage, places to hang art and kid level hooks, bins or shelves that kids can easily reach. Don’t let the children’s toys devour every room in the house. If you plan adequate storage in their rooms, kids can clean up after play time and save you a lot of time picking up allowing you to maintain a stylish, kid-friendly home.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar, IDS is the principle Designer and owner of Rancho Interior Design.

You can contact her at 951-956-0661 or email her at Cynthia@ranchointeriordesign.com

Affordable Interior Design in Temecula

Chaparro BedroomI recently participated in a Home Show Event in a private Del Webb community in Hemet, California. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of residents at the event. I am always surprised at how people are confused as to how designers charge for their time. Many people are under the misconception that designers are expensive to work with and they can’t afford to hire one. Granted, some top designers in major metropolitan areas are expensive to work with. Many have made a name for themselves and work with celebrities who have large budgets to offer the designer to work with. A designer has to keep in mind the area he or she works in and who they want to target their services to. Designers also have many ways they can charge for their services. They can charge a flat rate, an hourly rate, cost plus for purchases and/or a combination of these.

Working with a designer can actually save you money on your project. Their education and experience in their specialized field qualifies them to create a cohesive design for each project. Designers skillfully combine artistry, project management and knowledge of interior design into one profession. Each project is unique and requires a wide spectrum of ability to complete a wide range of tasks on time as well as on budget. From sketching, designing, researching, shopping for furniture, fabrics, paint, and accessories, coordinating trades, installers and deliveries takes a lot of time and knowledge. Most people do not understand what goes into creating a successful design project. Unfortunately HGTV has given people a false view of our industry. They fail to show all the time, people and actual cost involved with a design project. They simplify the project and lead the viewer to believe that design is a simple process. Anyone who has tried to tackle a project on their own with less than satisfactory results or are left with a room they hate can attest to this. A designer can save you from making purchase mistakes and wasting money. They can also save you money by selling  you items way below retail prices.

For the past twelve years, I have offered affordable interior design services at  Rancho Interior Design. I always ask for a budget before I begin a project so I create a practical design that can be implemented. There’s nothing worse than creating a design that a client can’t afford to purchase. I have been successful at creating beautiful spaces with quality furnishings on modest budgets.  I have different design plan options so anyone who needs help can afford to work with me and my team.

I wanted to blog about this subject after a couple I worked with came up to me at the Home Show (they were the reason I was invited to be featured at the event!). They both individually pulled me aside and said how much they loved their home and how much money I saved them!! I was able to sell them furniture at lower prices than they shopped for anywhere else. They said the amount I saved them more than paid for my services. (Their bedroom is featured here on top of this blog). So I hope I cleared up some misconceptions about how we charge and let you know that yes, Interior Designers can be affordable. Give me a call.

Give Your Tract Home a Custom Look


Custom built homes are designed according to the clients’ specifications and have a unique style and appearance inside and out. Tract home interiors and exteriors on the other hand are all very similar but can be given a custom look with the help of a design professional, a little imagination and a lot of attention to detail. This can all be done on a modest budget without making major structural changes.

I was recently contacted by a young couple from Virginia, Brittney and Zach Osborne who are purchasing a home in Canyon Hills, Lake Elsinore.  It is very important for me to learn as much as possible about my clients so I can design a home that reflects their taste and lifestyle. I had the couple complete our custom questionnaire so I could learn about their design style, their needs, their likes and dislikes, their vision for the home and very importantly, their budget. Brittney is a Registered Nurse and Zach is a professional motocross racer.  They described their design style as casual and contemporary and wanted to create a custom look for their home that feels inviting and comfortable. They like to entertain and expect to have a lot of out of town guests visit often. They described themselves as outgoing, fairly laid back and enjoy the outdoors. They plan for kids and animals in the future so I had to keep that in mind while selecting fabrics and furnishings for them. They like neutral, timeless, warm colors and modern style furnishings.

We began the design process by choosing the color palette for the entire house. With their lifestyle in mind I decided to give them a “Modern Nature” theme incorporating colors borrowed from nature and natural textures and materials.  After measuring the home I developed a floor plan for each room and selected furnishings, window treatments, lighting and accessories keeping in mind the function, style and mood of each space.


Watching the house transformation has been exciting for my clients and I was able to make decisions and share the progress with them all via the internet! I will be featuring the finished rooms in their home over the next few months. This month we will look at the Great Room’s design transformation.

The Great Room

The Great Room will be the place where Brittney and Zach do a lot of entertaining. The color palette for this room includes warm beiges, grey, blue and green with black accents. I chose 2 walls to paint in an accent color of Stone Fence (Behr paint). The couple required a lot of seating so I chose a custom sectional sofa in a soft, flannel grey upholstery fabric, which will be durable and easy to clean. A large ottoman in beige ultra suede fabric was chosen instead of a traditional cocktail table and can serve as an ottoman, table or extra seating.  Pillows add color and a nature pattern to the sofa. A wicker side table was chosen and adds another natural element to the space.  A comfy, gorgeous area rug defines the seating area and incorporates all the colors of our palette. Three custom barstools upholstered in beige and grey tweed fabric were chosen for additional seating at the bar. The room had a large open niche where we installed a custom designed Maple entertainment cabinet for TV and components. A rustic console table next to the slider back door provides a drop off spot and can display photos, cookbooks, etc.


For the windows and French door I chose off-white Roman shades which I love. They are pretty, stylish and provide diffused light and privacy. The slider was treated with a functional grommet top drapery fabricated in a beautiful iridescent blue fabric.  To be sure we had adequate lighting in the room we added six recessed ceiling lights and under cabinet lighting in the kitchen and a modern fan was installed in the center of the room.

The most important finishing touches in any room are accessories. For art we chose a pair of canvas prints which feature soft tree branch images in tones of beiges and greens coordinating with the area rug colors perfectly. A modern clock, silver tree sculpture and inspirational art are featured over the fireplace. Family photos will add a personal touch throughout the room.


The finished room carries out the “Modern Nature” theme with relaxing colors, natural materials, and nature images. The room offers ample, comfortable seating and plenty of room for entertaining guests.
Remember that details in design, including custom paint colors, custom cabinets, upgraded flooring, lighting, window treatments and furnishings all help to achieve that custom look for any home.

Cynthia Champness Cuellar is the owner and principle designer of Rancho Interior Design.

Contact her at 951-956-0661 or ranchointeriordesign.com



Entryway Ideas for Your Home


Dear Cynthia,

My design dilemma is this. My front door always looks a mess and it’s the first thing you see when you come into my home. The kids always drop their stuff-shoes, backpacks, bags, toys right down by the front door when they come home. What can I do about making this space look nicer?

Alice, Murrieta

Dear Alice,

Keeping your front or back entry neat is always a challenge when you have kids and husbands! Back East a lot of homes are built with what is called a mud room that is off the back entry. The concept of a mud room was to have a room where you could come inside and remove your muddy, wet boots and coats and not dirty the living spaces. Most of us here in California don’t have the luxury of a mud room so we have to come up with other ways to organize the clutter. First look at your entryway and determine what kind of space you have where you could create a storage area. Analyze the types of items that you need to organize. Do you need containers, boxes, and hanging space?  Design the area in an attractive cohesive way that complements the rest of your room/home.  If there is room for a piece of furniture consider purchasing an entry storage bench. Pottery Barn has a nice one. Their Brady 4-piece double bench entryway system is perfect for organizing the entryway. The unit has room for hanging jackets, drawers for toys, shoes, etc., bins for storing school supplies and a bench where you can sit and remove your shoes. They offer several different options and different sizes of units. You can add more hooks for additional directly on the wall. Decorate the space around the unit with wall art and framed photos and add interesting pendant lights for style and adequate light. Now the space is organized and attractive not just a mound of clutter. If space is limited you can still achieve an organized area incorporating shelves, using large baskets and decorative hooks that can be found at any hardware store. You might even search for vintage pieces at local antique shops.  Just be sure to decorate the space so it blends in with your home décor and becomes an attractive area that complements your home.