Local interior designers recently provided tips for improving the look of rooms in a home. Pictured is a room designed by AMW Design Studio.

Local interior designers recently provided tips for improving the look of rooms in a home. Pictured is a room designed by AMW Design Studio.

Photo provided by Michigan Design Center

Interior designers offer room-by-room tips to homeowners

By: Mark Vest | Metro | Published October 3, 2023

 Local interior designers discussed one of the misconceptions people have about home improvement projects. Pictured is a room designed by Jennifer Asmar.

Local interior designers discussed one of the misconceptions people have about home improvement projects. Pictured is a room designed by Jennifer Asmar.

Photo provided by Michigan Design Center


METRO DETROIT — According to some interior designers, watching home improvement shows can give some people the wrong idea.

Shows that feature homes that are remodeled and renovated can make for great entertainment, but some educational components may be missing.

As can often be the case with “reality” TV, what appears on the television screen doesn’t necessarily jive with the real world.

Jennifer Asmar is the owner of Asmar Interiors, which is based out of Birmingham.

“Everybody thinks doing design work is like HGTV — they pick what they want and then one week later it’s done,” Asmar said. “Things that are done properly take time, and things that you want done correctly need planning. It’s not a one-to-two-week project — nothing should be.”

Amy Miller Weinstein owns AMW Design Studio, based out of Birmingham, and she also wanted to set the record straight about the difference between television and real-world home improvement projects.

“It’s not like it is on TV at all, the decision-making or any of that,” Miller Weinstein said. “The timeline that they create just doesn’t even exist in the real world. … It’s very staged. It doesn’t happen in a week.”

Asmar shared a more realistic scenario.

“Everything is custom for what I do, and most designers do, so there is no standard cost or standard time frame, because we do custom projects, so everything is all dependent on the client and the level of the job,” she said. “To put a number and time on anything is not realistic. … Everything depends on what you’re doing.”

Miller Weinstein discussed the current interior design trends that she has been observing.

“I think people are looking for a simpler way of living in their house that’s comfortable and easy,” she said. “There’s a lot of great indoor outdoor fabrics right now that are pet-friendly (and) child-friendly. People don’t want stuffy anymore; they want comfort (and) ease. Whatever their taste level may be, whether it’s traditional, transitional or contemporary, there are great new materials and things available on the market that can address all of that.”

Living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms are popular areas for home improvement projects, and Asmar shared tips for improving each.

“Usually creating some kind of focal point in the room, whether it be the fireplace wall or an art wall, or something dramatic like that — there’s a focal point in the room,” she said of living rooms. “The bathroom should be beautifully done and according to your requirements in life. Kitchens are all about functionality, so you need to make sure you have the proper working space, the proper room to live your life the way you do. The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it needs to be not only beautiful, but functional as well.”

As for improving the look of a bedroom, Miller Weinstein suggests updating lamps and bedding, adding a bench at the end of a bed, minimizing unnecessary furniture, and adding drapery or window treatments.

“Those are all things you can do without buying new furniture,” she said. “You can even paint your furniture. If it’s old, stodgy wood pieces, painting them will sort of bring them into this day and age.”

Both Asmar and Miller Weinstein typically work on multiple rooms when hired for projects.

“Common spots people want to update right now are kitchens, primary bathrooms, primary bedrooms — spaces in general, with closeting,” Miller Weinstein said. “I get requests for lower levels — basements that they (want to) spruce up.”

Asmar shared what she thinks is another current trend.

“Most people are doing more streamline modern — not as heavy traditional,” she said. “It seems like less is more.”

Oakland Community College offers an associate of applied science degree in interior design, and from the perspective of Michelle Pergeau-Dudgeon, who is the program coordinator of the interior design program at OCC, there is something that doesn’t get enough attention in homes.

“People underestimate lighting, and that’s a passion that I brought when I began teaching, and how I got my first teaching course was lighting and color,” Pergeau-Dudgeon said. “That’s something I’m really pushing with my students — lighting cannot happen too early. Once that drywall goes up, it’s a lot harder for the electrician. Never underestimate the power of lighting.”

Pergeau-Dudgeon is of the opinion that interior designers are effective problem-solvers for homeowners. Birmingham resident Katie Prior, who decided to utilize the services of an interior designer, might agree with that description.

After going to someone’s home and seeing Miller Weinstein’s work, Prior reached out to her. That was approximately 20 years ago, and since then, Miller Weinstein has assisted Prior on a variety of home improvement projects.

Prior shared the benefit of calling on Miller Weinstein for assistance.

“You get full service, and with that, I’m referring to beginning with an overall design plan, making selections and then implementing all of those moving pieces until you have the final product,” Prior said.

Miller Weinstein shared her perspective as to why hiring an interior designer is worth the cost for those who want to improve the looks of their homes.

“My belief is that in the long run we save you money because you don’t make mistakes,” she said. “If you listen to your designer, you’re being guided properly about all the things, all the decisions. … A good designer can pluck out tasteful, timeless choices, even at a Home Depot, a Menards or someplace like that. … (If) you’re spending money, you might as well spend it smart.”

Asmar agreed.

“If you want it done correctly with a professional, you should listen to that professional, because doing things on your own can cost you money through mistakes,” she said. “So if you’re willing to spend a little bit more with a designer, in the end you can end up saving yourself a whole headache and a whole list of mistakes, because we’re the professionals and we know what to do.”

Asmar can be reached via email at jennifer@asmarinteriors.com. Miller Weinstein can be reached via email at amymillerweinstein@gmail.com.