I recently interviewed design expert Kristan Cunningham, host of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime” and frequent contributor to the “Rachel Ray Show” about design tips, her favorite online resources, and how social media has changed her life. Special thanks to Raymour & Flanigan for coordinating. Full disclosure: Raymour & Flanigan contacted me to promote their collaboration with Kristan. I received no financial compensation for this post.
What’s the one thing that can make or break a room?
The biggest “bang for your buck” is paint. Nothing can make the same impact on a room for the least amount of money. The tone of a room is also very important. A piece can look completely different in two spaces. Things like lighting; dimmers can soften up a room for impact. Additionally, a signature piece- a large armoire or a sleigh bed- can completely change the tone of a room. I would recommend investment pieces in the transitional style that are not too modern or too traditional, as they can provide the most leverage.
You’re very adept at finding quick solutions. What is your favorite easy tip?
One of my favorites is what I like to call the “motel to hotel” transition. Instead of making your bed by pulling the covers all the way to the end of the bed, fold the comforter over twice and add some throw pillows. It costs no money and only requires a small investment of your time, and it can really add definition.
You do a lot of segments on maximizing small spaces. What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen people make when space is an issue?
The biggest mistake people make with small spaces is under scaling. Don’t be afraid to use big pieces! You don’t need to be confined to dining chairs. One way to get more leverage out of large furniture is to find “double duty” pieces, like an ottoman with storage space or an armoire where you can hide the TV.
Scaling can be an issue for large spaces as well. The great room is becoming more common, a space that is often three rooms in one. Area rugs can help divide the space, as can large items, like an armoire that can visually break up a big wall.
Let’s talk a little bit about your partnership with Raymour & Flanigan. You’re currently their design expert.
Furniture retailer Raymour & Flanigan brought me in to help their consumers and help them make educated decisions about their furniture and their homes. They are really committed to giving consumers information and tools. Their website has a Design Center section with videos, tip and tools, like a room planner application. I also write articles for the site and recently put together a style book with ideas.
In addition to Raymour & Flanigan, what are your favorite online resources?
My “morning check”- the sites I browse on a daily basis- are Apartment Therapy, Remodelista, and Design Sponge. Blogs are great because they post a variety of resources, from gallery showings to details on sales. I also love the photo tours- being able to get inspiration from real people’s houses. Additionally, both the LA Times and NY Times have great home design content. They have been making an effort recently to include items at different price points and trying to show that design isn’t only for the wealthy. I’ve always believed that good design is good design, no matter what it costs. I also check 1st Dibs regularly for vintage items.
On a more personal note, I was wondering if you could speak to your social media usage. How has social media helped you build your personal brand?
The uptake of social media has been amazing in way it has changed my contact with fans. It has enabled me to keep up with people and share information much faster and more easily. I’m currently redoing my website, and the new site will include my YouTube videos, as well as links to my Twitter and Facebook pages. I also have content on Raymour & Flanigan’s YouTube and Facebook pages. I love that I can post information on Twitter and it reaches my fans immediately. I can tell them about a sale or an interesting article. I can provide content online almost instantly, whereas a TV episode usually takes several weeks to produce.