How to Craft a Beautiful Home, According to 5 Delaware Designers

Photo by Todd Mason

Could your home use a refresh? We tapped five Delaware design experts for their advice on how to craft a space that you’ll adore.

Even if money is no object, what homeowner doesn’t want to learn how to create beautiful interiors on a simple budget? We’ve tapped 5 Delaware design experts who share the innovative ways they craft a space that works with nature and has personality. Going at it alone? Consider these free tips.

interior design living room
The modernized design of the award-winning Cardinal Residence in Rehoboth Beach was influenced by its natural surroundings, including the sun, and incorporates organic materials for an indoor-outdoor feel. The fireplace features reclaimed barn wood from Old Wood Delaware in Lewes atop dry stacked stone. Interior design by Jodi Macklin Interiors. Photo by Todd Mason

Let the sunshine in

When the owners of a Rehoboth Beach cottage wanted their home update to feel modern and sustainable, they recruited SEA Studio Architects in Millville, who turned to the sun for design inspiration. “The sun gives direction and meaning for design decisions,” says MaryKate Leitch, SEA’s interior design director. “It allows you to play with shade and shadow as visual interests.”

It’s also practical: Thinking about where sunlight flows into your home will help maximize its energy efficiency by “shading sun and heat during the summer but allowing that heat into the house during the winter,” Leitch explains. The architecture studio always considers daylight patterns from day one of a home’s design through the end of construction and encourages homeowners to locate spaces within their homes the sun can work with. “Every home is oriented differently related to the sun’s path and allows unique layouts and design details,” Leitch explains. Generally, the north side will get lovely, diffused light, while the south will get intense sun with hard shadow lines.

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interior design bathroom
In a guest bathroom in Wilmington, a warm wood vanity anchors Calacatta Gold marble and mixed metal in the form of brass and iron sconces, an antique painted gold mirror, and polished nickel plumbing fixtures. “I can’t imagine this space with a light wood vanity. The soul of this room is palpable,” says Liza Nicole, lead designer at her eponymous firm in Greenville. Photo by Rebecca Mcalpin

Choose wood with warmth

Lighter-toned and blond wood finishes are having a moment, but nothing beats rich, dark walnut or mahogany furnishings, says Liza Nicole, owner and lead designer of Liza Nicole Interiors in Greenville. “They are soulful and timeless.” She encourages clients to forget what they’ve been told about dark wood equating to a dark space. Instead, “Think of the grains and tones as stories to be told, and just like a book on a shelf, it’s one collected element among many,” she says. “These woods are chameleons and bring out tones within selected finishes, paint and wallpaper that I think the lighter woods struggle to accomplish equally.” Nicole recommends shopping at local antique and consignment stores for warm wood furniture to add to the depth and character of a room.

sitting area
A home office in Centreville uses patterned wallpaper on the ceiling, which brings out the pale-green hue of built-in shelving. The small space lends itself well to the use of wallpaper. Photo by Keyanna Bowen

Find prints charming

Wallpaper’s popularity has come booming back into interior design in the past couple years, and now designers are coming up with creative ways to embrace the trend. Every room has a “fifth wall” to utilize, explains Wilmington-based interior designer Christie Veres, owner of CDV Interiors. She has wallpapered ceilings in recent projects, garnering fantastic results and rave reviews from her clients. “It’s a little unexpected and adds another layer to the room,” she says, pointing out it’s also “a great way to incorporate some color or pattern.”

The best part? A wallpapered ceiling is a relatively affordable home design investment, Veres points out. Those who are wallpaper-shy but still want to breathe fresh air into a room might consider painting their ceiling the same color as their walls for a similar but less punchy effect.

bathroom sink interior design
A custom-shaped backsplash cut from the same stone as the countertop is especially effective when paired with wall-mount faucets, and is “a reference to more traditional, East Coast elements we’ve seen in our favorite generational homes,” says Jess Weeth. In this powder room, black honed soapstone with subtle veining complements brass fixtures by Waterworks. Aged brass sconces are by Ralph Lauren for Visual Comfort; wallpaper is by Schumacher. Photo by Keyanna Bowen

Set in stone

Homeowners are often more comfortable taking design risks on a smaller scale, and bathroom counters are where Jess Weeth loves to play and get creative. Weeth, owner and principal designer of Rehoboth Beach–based Weeth Home, an interior design firm and retail shop, explains, “We’ve recently started to look for more creative ways to apply countertop stone, in particular on bathroom vanities. By not having to introduce an additional material such as a tile or painted wall trim, we can keep things more understated while still creating a memorable element to the overall design.” Bathrooms are an ideal place to introduce imaginative design because of their size. “The smaller the space, the more affordable your design choices get. Working on a smaller scale can allow you to invest in much higher quality elements,” says Weeth.

bedroom
A seaside bedroom has a pulled-together look thanks to a blue-and-white speckled-pattern fabric. When the midcentury-modern barrel-back club chairs by Finn Andersen for Selig were reupholstered, Todd Tully Danner, principal of arQitecture in Wilmington, reserved some material to make a lumbar pillow for the bed. Dan Jackson Architectural Photography

Play with patterns and texture

A little goes a long way with a favorite design method used by Todd Tully Danner, principal of arQitecture, an award-winning architecture and interiors firm in Wilmington. “When we are doing a seating group, we love using a patterned fabric on a set of chairs and then using that same fabric on pillows on nonpatterned chairs across from them,” Danner explains. “It allows you to use different pieces of furniture to give texture to the room [while tying] all the items together in a cohesive whole with the fabric.”

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This idea is relatively affordable, while helping a room feel rich and personalized. It’s the opposite of a cookie-cutter look and keeps a room from looking as though it came straight from the pages of a furniture catalog. “This doesn’t have to cost a lot,” Danner points out. “Pillows can be made out of upholstery remnants, and any pillow can be bought on Etsy very reasonably.”

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