You walk into a furniture showroom and see the perfect sofa.  You’ve been looking for a new sofa for months and this one is everything you imagined.  You buy it.  You wait two months for it.  It arrives, FINALLY.  The delivery guys bring it into your living room and….your jaw drops.  IT’S WAY TOO BIG!  Ever happened to you??




I happened to drop by a friend’s house recently at a rather fortuitous moment and saved her from just such a mistake.  She showed me the terrific sofa she was all set to order (and no, not all my friends buy their sofas through me, but the should!).  She’d sat on it in the store, she liked the fabric options and was good to go – until I happened to bring to her attention just how far out into her family room that lovely sofa would protrude.  Who thinks of that?   Interior designers think of that!  Most people shop for furnishings by look and comfort, which is fine, but SIZE MATTERS!  Interior designers shop by size, then look and comfort, and so should you.

I was explaining my design process to a new client a couple of weeks ago and explained that I first measured and drew the rooms I was working on to scale, and then figured out what the optimal size of each furniture piece needed to be.  Only then did I start to shop.  She responded with “OMG!  No wonder I always buy the wrong piece!”  “I shop for what I love and then try and make it fit.”

I always think in terms of size, scale and proportion.  The furniture does need to physically fit in the space (and don’t forget it has to be able to make it through the door or elevator too) with enough room to move around without constantly banging your shins into the side of something.  Once you know the pieces are the approximate right size, my mind moves to scale and proportion to make sure the piece I have in mind plays well with the pieces around it.

So that’s my insight for today, and if you’re going to be off looking for a new sofa this weekend – happy hunting and make sure you know the size sofa you need to make your space sing!



People are often looking for that great new piece of furniture to turn their interiors from ho-hum to amazing, but I always urge them to stop and take stock of the room as a whole.  In times past, many homes were constructed with beautiful architectural detailing and mill work.  Crown moldings, wainscot, door and window casings, fireplace mantles were often substantial and beautifully crafted.  Add a rug, sofa and a chair or two and the room invited you to come in and take a seat.  Unfortunately, today, especially here in Southern California where track homes reign supreme, few if any architectural details remain.  Even into the $1,000,000+ market, acres of drywall, short base moldings, narrow casework around windows and doors, a 12” wide slab of granite, tile, or whatever slapped onto the drywall outlining the fireplace, often with no mantle above, is the norm.  You can fill your room full of beautiful furnishings and the room is still sort of ho-hum.  So what’s the answer?  Casework and mill work!



Starting out life as a tall, narrow drywall box with no crown molding or window casing, this back stair went from boring to amazing with a little bit of well designed casework.  The wainscot detail we designed here would look every bit as good in a dining room, library or study. In a more traditional space, or if you’re aiming for a more formal look, you can layer on the detail in the moldings.  Here we used the classic reed and ribbon molding to add additional detail.  A simplified molding could be substituted for a more transitional space.




Here’s another example of using the classic wainscot design for a more transitional interior.  We installed mirror behind the fretwork to bring extra light and sparkle to this breakfast room designed for a client in yet another builder basic home.











We love helping our clients make their interiors unique and gorgeous.  Who would guess that this room was once your basic (albeit in that $1,000,000+ market) track home? Classic casework, mill work and a custom shattered glass wall panel created a luxurious, timeless environment our client loves!  If a room like this doesn’t fit your budget, you can apply moldings over drywall, paint the whole wall out in a semi-gloss paint for a WOW! look at a budget friendly price.


So next time you’re ready to run out and grab some new piece of furniture, STOP!! PLEASE!!  Take stock of your whole room and think about using those dollars in a way that adds a real wow factor,turning builder basic into custom.

Don’t know where to start?  We specialize in designing beautiful casework and mill work and would love to help you personalize your space.  Give us a call!



Don’t Forget to Look Up!

When you’re in an inside space, and you do, you’re going to notice there’s a vast ceiling plane up there that most people never consider when they decorate their San Diego home design imageroom. I could probably walk into 90% of the homes in America (maybe more) and find all the ceilings in the home painted flat white. Why??? The ceiling is the fifth wall of your room, and in some rooms that wall is huge. It’s begging for your attention!


There are so many ways to make an impact on this fifth wall. Here are a few options you might consider to re-energize an existing space or re-imagine an entire room.Ceiling beams interior decoration image


I’ve always loved a good coffered ceiling like this one we installed in a home in San Diego, CA. It turned 800+ square feet of flat ceiling into a great design detail that you absolutely notice.


elizabeth gordonIf you have a Mediterranean, farmhouse or industrial style home, beams are a great option to bring instant age and character to the space. The dark, hand hewn beams we installed in this family room continue to tell the story of the Mediterranean architectural style of this home. Change that out to a light finish, rough sawn beam, and you’ve put yourself into an old factory turned loft.fireside


I love this space by Elizabeth Gordon. She’s used wallpaper and a great mirror to make the ceiling the focal point of this room. Not every client is looking for something outside the box, but wow, when clients allow their designer’s to let loose their creative juices, you get some really stunning results!


The Interior EdgeThis creative ceiling treatment by Fireside Design Build, Inc. begs you to engage your imagination. I see a river when I look up, you may see something different – maybe a wood footbridge spanning a gorge in some remote area of the globe. We did a similar treatment on a hallway ceiling of Valencia United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall to evoke the feeling of following along a path.


artistic designs for living

This bedroom by The Interior Edge is really quite narrow, but using silver leaf on the ceiling adds a level of reflectivity that makes the space feel more expansive, not to mention luxurious.


Paint is a simple way to bring attention to that fifth wall with no added expense. Pink paint doesn’t cost any more than white paint, and you’ve got to paint that ceiling anyway…

In this outdoor room designed by RJohnston Interiors, tongue and groove ceiling planks adds both an outdoor feel and a lot RJohnston-26of warmth to this space. Vaulted ceilings and gables add to the interest as the wood decking changes direction across the ceiling plane.

cynthia mason

To create an outdoor adventure theme to this boy’s bedroom, Cynthia Mason Interiors used fabric, wood, buttons and lacing along with a good dose of imagination.


I  hope I’ve inspired you to think about your ceilings the next time you’re looking for a way to update or redecorate your space. Ceiling planes, unbroken by doors and windows, are often the largest wall in your room and present a huge opportunity for great design. If you’re looking for a way to make your ceilings an integrated part of your décor, but don’t know how, give RJohnston Interiors a call at: 661-678-0034. We’d be happy to help you out!