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Guest opinion by Marlene Holmquist


Baby Boomers have loved us for decades, the Gen X generation is starting to distance from us, and now the millennials love our occupation so much they want to do it themselves. The enjoyment of designing interiors is undeniable. As a trained professional and accredited member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), our members have always considered the health and well-being of our clients as we design. Interior design is powerful and very much alive.

Interior design is a feeling. It is personal reflection of who you are, illustrated in a space. It can change lives for the better, resulting in a healthier existence. How can an interior designer, who has only known you for a mere few days or weeks, interpret your needs and who you are? I always start by asking new clients, “What is your definition of luxury?” Once I give them my personal definition of how I interpret luxury, they tend to become extremely creative in their responses, helping me to design for them.

Interior design uses intuition and education, for sure; however, information gathering, and synthesis (what we call programming) is the most crucial step to amplify and customize your style. For larger projects, programming is essential, takes time, and I guarantee it is time well spent. Programming leads to accurate planning and budgeting. You cannot determine a budget without a plan.

As an alternative, if you wish to do most of the work yourself, I offer “design coaching.” Design coaching is prepaid hours of design consultation offered in 5-hour increments.


White kitchens are currently still popular and have been a trend for years. They are neutral, safe and have a clean and organized look. But have you considered what it would be like to actually live in one? They have definite pros and cons. Make sure this look reflects your personality and lifestyle. More importantly, your white kitchen should not look out of place with the rest of your décor. Here are a few guidelines and considerations:

•           Define your perception of what a white kitchen is; they vary greatly.

•           All white cabinets can be overly reflective and need to be ‘grounded’ with a darker floor or island, so the space does not have a ‘floating’ effect.

•           Consider natural and artificial lighting sources. Too much reflection and light can be hard on the eyes.

•           White ‘frames’ everything and can make counters look messy. Maintaining the clean look you desire may take too much effort.

•           Painted white kitchens (especially the lower cabinets) tend to get dirty and chip easily. I recommend a natural wood lower cabinet combined with white uppers for easier maintenance.

•           Sleek reflective surfaces will feel like a laboratory. Add textures for a more calming result.

Marlene Holmquist, ASID, owns Luxury Ranch Interior Design, a full-service interior design company specializing in remodels for residences and small businesses. An avid equestrian known as “The Cowgirl Designer,” she is a member of the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition and Las Vaqueras Women’s Riding Club. or

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