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10 Questions: Decorating secrets from The N&O Design Team

Kat Woods

Kat’s Design Services, Raleigh

919-676-7226 or

Design philosophy in 15 words: Adding color and texture to a space enriches our experience and deepens our enjoyment of it.

Best decor bargain you’ve ever scored: Ben’s Bargain Barn (in Raleigh and Morrisville) once had a very nice wood and glass sideboard that was simply missing its pulls and knobs. Under $100 and an easy fix!

Your most important, no-fail decorating tip: Plants for the triple win! They soften hard design lines, add another accent color, and simultaneously clean the air.

Your favorite design blog: Sherwin Williams STIR ( They aren’t promoting merchandise, a specific style or a person. They focus exclusively on color, which makes it much more useful than other blogs that aim primarily to drum up business.

Design goof that makes you wince: Most blue hues are neutral, yet blue often erroneously gets used as the dominant color. Imagine a photo of a room in black and white. Everything that is light blue would appear white. Boring! Bring in beautiful, deep hues and don’t limit your designer by being afraid of colors.

The next big decorating trend: Technology is making lighting much more interesting. Multiple lighting sources make for a much richer environment. I believe lighting will be the next big trend because of the new looks that are being created.

Best way to decorate a fireplace mantel for summer: The key is counter-balance. To the left of the open, empty center, place a grouping of several large pillar candles. To the right of the center, add some thin taper candles. On the outside left, add a plant that stands tall; on the outside right, a plant that hangs down. Voilà! Instant style.

Easy way to dress up your front door: Honestly, one of the biggest factors in creating a nice front door is keeping it clean – which needs to be done much more often than you think! Dust the pollen, freshen the paint (or stain), keep the glass clear and polish the hardware.

Biggest design no-no: Symmetry. Everything doesn’t have to be the same on both sides. Your best tip for do-it-yourself designers: Spend a few dollars on a quart of paint you think you want. Paint a chunk of the wall and sit with it for several days. If it looks great morning, noon and night, proceed. If not, get a different color of paint and repeat.

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