Behind the Design: How We Tend To Those Little Details That Make a House a Home

Interior design is one of those professions that people are naturally curious about, often picturing a glamorous day surrounded by beautiful fabric, custom furniture, bespoke window treatments and amazing art, all in magazine-worthy, perfectly appointed homes. And, yes, it can be all that.

But at its core, being an interior designer means finding solutions: what is the best way to make these clients feel most at home in this house? That often comes down to the little, extra details. Does the room need a little something else to pop? Is everything in this space arranged in a way that not only looks good but is functional and comfortable? Here are a few examples of what we mean…


Adding plants is one of the easiest ways to bring life to a room…literally! In addition to thinking about the plant’s needs (more on that here from Helen Olivia), think about what will work in the space. Do you need height? Structure? Volume? And don’t neglect the planter or cache pot. That’s another opportunity to enhance the room.


We liked this choice for the kitchen because the asymmetrical fronds felt informal and whimsical, exactly the tone for a room that’s the heart of the home. A more structured leaf, say like what you’d see in a snake plant, would seem odd with the botanical print in the Roman shades. The pot here is also just the right balance of rustic texture and refined shape.


We like to add throw pillows in a kitchen setting. It’s unexpected, so it’s instantly charming, but it also gives us a way to introduce another layer of pattern and color. Not to mention comfort, of course. We use indoor/outdoor fabric on the upholstered seat cushions in the kitchen, because real life happens!


We talked recently about things to think about when buying chandeliers and pendant lighting that are going to be within sight of each other. Like we said in that post, and as you can see here, mixing finishes is not only fine, it actually adds interest. (And before you ask, you can snag that amazing Alexandria market bag from Red Barn Mercantile here.)


Of course art is critical to make a house a home, but buying capital-A art doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, it really is one case where your gut feeling is the most important guide! Other pointers: think about the size of the wall you are trying to fill. Do you need a large piece? Multiple pieces? Or could a small yet interesting piece also work?


We opted for the small-but-mighty art approach in this sweet girl’s room. Here’s why: a larger piece would balance the dramatic headboard too much. Yes, balance and symmetry in interior design is a “thing,” but we often break the rules to create a more special space. Here, we wanted the the dramatic headboard and darling pillows to shine; a large piece of art would have overwhelmed this scale.

The white-on-white matting and framing is similarly intentional. It provides soothing balance with the white bedding and lets the colors in the delicate watercolor pop. And we love that the watercolor is abstract! It provides a nice juxtaposition with the orderly lines of dots on the pillow and rows triangles in the wallpaper, mimicking the organic swirls of the floral Roman shade (see previous photo).

So it really is true: little things mean a lot, especially when making a house a home.


📸 :: Luke & Ashley


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Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox combine their formal training in design and fashion with their renowned sense of style in Ivy Lane, a full-service interior design firm that curates casually elegant family dwellings that are elevated by a unique spark. Whether an entire house renovation or a one-room makeover, Alex and Courtney’s extensive experience and collaborative dynamic inform a successful design philosophy: thoroughly understand the client’s lifestyle, bring a thoughtful spatial perspective, and enliven the space with the freshest aesthetic interest.

309C Cameron Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314


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