...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Last summer I mentioned that I would like to start creating mood boards for clients – for a fee. I asked you guys to help me out with pricing. After that post, I worked behind the scenes to nail down a tiered pricing sheet for design services. Then I emailed all the people who had asked for my help over the years {I have a special folder devoted to ‘Help me!’ emails} letting them know I was open for business with my pricing sheet attached. I’ve been booked ever since.

I didn’t announce my design services publicly here on the blog because I didn’t want to schedule myself too far out {that feels really overwhelming to me, knowing that “x” number of people are awaiting a mood board} and I wanted to see how things went since it was my first paying go-around with mood boards. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about my approach to seeing and decorating other people’s spaces.

I prefer quality over quantity. I’d rather give my attention to a few clients at a time than be pulled in different directions with a bunch of clients. On that same note, I like to take my time getting to know the client and their space. Which means I’ll look at pictures of their room and go over their wants/needs then let it all sit with me a while until I get a good feel for their style and how to inject that into their space. I like to carefully curate items for mood boards. I refuse to churn out a mood board within a week’s time if I can’t find just the right lamp or pillow or rug or whatever it may be. It’s really a thoughtful process to me and I like to pretend I’m “in” the space.

As you may have guessed, I’m not a one-weeker start-to-finish mood board creator. From beginning {which requires the client to provide room pictures, dimensions, inspiration images and answers to a brief questionnaire} to end, it usually takes me 2-4 weeks depending on the scope of the project. And sometimes longer if I’m not happy with a particular item or concept. This also has to do with the fact that I don’t have childcare {not that I couldn’t use some!} and I have three children. Mood boards are created late at night after everyone else is in bed. I can only survive so many 4-hour nights of sleep per week.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that even though a client may ask for only the most basic of services {i.e., overhead lighting, fixtures, color scheme, flooring, etc.}, I end up providing more. Either the client directly asks for it because they need help visualizing the rest of the room or I throw it in because I think the client needs to see the bigger picture to understand the basics I’ve suggested.

Finally, as much as I hate to admit it, I think I’m undervaluing my services. I have been charging $175 for the most detailed tier. Over the past eight months, I’ve had two clients come to me by word of mouth – not via House*Tweaking. I provided them with design services then asked them to pay me what they thought my help was worth. Both paid me more than what I would have charged according to my pricing sheet.

So to answer the most frequently asked question that pops up in my inbox: Yes, I do provide design services. However, I’m currently booked until late summer. You can always email me and I will keep your email on file and contact you when my schedule opens up. Also, I’m no longer going to provide tiered services for the reasons mentioned above. I will provide a comprehensive mood board that encompasses everything from furniture arrangement to finishes to accessories. Most likely, pricing will increase although clients already on the schedule won’t be affected.

To keep you in the know, I like sharing the mood boards I create – with the client’s permission, of course. Here’s one of my recent projects.




Ali wanted help with her living room and dining room. In the living room, Ali was hoping for a more functional furniture arrangement conducive to adult conversation, a little telly action and guitar playing {her husband plays} but also kid-friendly enough for her six-year-old twins. {Ali’s house has a separate family room for primarily watching TV and relaxing as a family.} When Ali contacted me, the room was being used only as a quick dropzone upon entering the house.

In the dining room, Ali asked to keep the existing dining table and chairs. She hosts meals for family and friends often. She wanted both of the rooms to be comfortable for entertaining. Ali admitted she was confused by her style. She loves simple open spaces, industrial elements, natural wood and exposed brick but is also drawn to the colors and textures found in Indian textiles. And, of course, she was on a budget.


For the living room, I suggested a new furniture arrangement {see the very rough sketch above}. Here’s the mood board:

Ali's Musical Living Room


1 – I suggested painting the walls a warm creamy white {i.e., Benjamin Moore’s swiss coffee} and hanging simple white curtains floor to ceiling at both windows.

2 – To accomodate guitar playing, I chose an armless sofa {in the brushed heather cotton gray haze option} for the main seating. HH plays a little himself and I know how he likes to sit forward with his guitar resting on his thigh when he plays. A sofa sans arms also helps to make the smallish room feel more roomy. I suggested placing the sofa on the window wall. I chose a few non-matching throw pillows found here, here and here. A leggy floor lamp placed next to the sofa provides light for evening gatherings. Instead of hanging a mirror or artwork above the sofa {so predictable}, I suggested that Ali display her husband’s guitar. He can easily remove it to play. Hanging the guitar on the wall also frees up precious real estate.

3 – To round out the seating area, I found a masculine leather chair with a small footprint. Like the sofa, the chair is armless to accommodate guitar playing. I decided to forgo a coffee table and chose a drum stool instead. The stool can be moved around the room and used as extra seating when necessary. A patterned dhurrie rug grounds the seating area and adds interest to the space.

4 – I suggested placing the TV on the same wall as the front door. This way, the screen isn’t the first thing you see when you walk in the door. A rustic media console supports the TV and its components. The console can also handle mail, a few toys and sheet music. I recommended creating a gallery wall around the TV screen and incorporating the frames in the dining room. To light this side of the room, I found a glass table lamp. A vintage brass bowl catches keys and sunglasses.


For Ali’s dining room, I suggested pulling the dining table out from the window a bit {see another very rough sketch above}. As is, it was looking a little cramped. Here’s the mood board:

Ali's Worldly Dining Room


1 – I suggested painting the walls the same warm, creamy white as the living room and hanging the same white curtains high and wide around the dining window. To bring in more natural light and fool the eye into thinking the room was larger, I suggested hanging/leaning a large floor mirror on the wall furthest from the living room. After the dining table is in its new, less crowded position, I’d love to see this wire globe light centered above it – possibly swagged from the lightbox. It would reflect into the mirror when lit, doubling the ambiance.

2 – Ali needs to keep the current dining set so I suggested breaking up all the dark wood by removing the two chairs closest to the staircase wall and replacing them with an upholstered bench. The backless bench keeps the flow of traffic to the kitchen/living room open. I would top the dining table with a simple greenery arrangement to keep the focus on the pendant light.

3 – For interest, I suggested laying down a kilim runner in the pathway from the living room to the kitchen. In place of the open bookshelf in the original pictures, I’d use a sleeker closed cabinet and flank it with the two dining chairs that were replaced by the bench. A pair of gourd table lamps tops the cabinet for added lighting. I recommended relocating the large framed art piece in the living room to the wall above the cabinet so that the lamps overlap the artwork a bit for a layered look.

And that’s it! What do you think of Ali’s mood boards? Any favorite pieces? Personally, I adore the gourd lamps {only $35 each!}, the armless sofa and the rustic media console.

FYI – Learn to create mood boards for free here, here, here and here.

Click here to see who won last week’s giveaway!

images: 1 & 2} Ali  3 & 4} polyvore collages created by Dana Miller, linked within



Would love to see the after pictures from the clients efforts to get a feel for how the guidance was used! Well done!


I would love to see photos if her finished place. Love the ideas on the mood board. XoXo


I’ve always loved that locker style cabinet fro Ikea’s PS collection. At 24″ tall, it feels out of proportion to all of my other furniture. I’ve considered it for the children’s rooms, but I’m afraid they’d dent it up. The lamps give it more visual height, but I sure wish it was actually taller. If it was, I would’ve bought it a long time ago. I too would love to see your client’s after pics to see how they executed your ideas. Your design ideas would do wonders for these rooms! Excellent job!


Just a heads up – it seems Ikea is phasing out the white PS cabinet. It’s been out of stock (yet still listed on their website, grr) for several weeks. My best friend’s admired it for a long time and recently committed to finally buying it, only to discover it’s MIA :(

I agree with Lisa, I love the look of it, but could never envision the proportions working out in my home.

And I also agree with the others, after photos would be fun!

So happy to know that you do offer design service. Not everyone can dream up a room like you! I know you are booked, but how great is that? Clearly you have an ‘eye’ and you enjoy doing this. So jealous of those that are in your queue. They have some great spaces coming their way!
In answer to your question, I too, offer services, but for FREE. It is something I enjoy and something that friends and family often ask me to help with. I hope to one day turn it into a business as you have done.
I can’t wait to see more of these services/moodboards for clients that you have created. Thanks!


Where do you purchase your pillow inserts? Please dont say IKEA– there is not one in my area!!!! :)


These are great mood boards! They feel so cohesive and unique.
I wish I could get my husband to hang even 1 of his guitars on the wall! He thinks it looks showy. I think it looks good and is functional (win-win) :)
Hope you get after pictures to share with us !


Great boards! I love those lamps too. Can’t believe they are only $35!


You do an amazing job! I would love to see the after pictures as well. =)

I wish you a ton of luck with this new endeavor {although you surely don’t need it}!! I love that you have already found much success…I mean, referrals by word of mouth?!? That’s amazing!! :)


If any clients send ‘afters’ my way, I’ll be sure to share!


I’ve been waiting for this announcement! I love your blog and design skills, and was hoping this would work out for you since you first mentioned it last year. I wish you much success! And I hope to be able to use your design services myself someday soon, since my husband and I are in the market to buy our first ever home this summer.


Good eye! Ali actually doesn’t have an IKEA near her so the PS cabinet was a “fill in” item. I was just using the style to represent a sleeker, modern cabinet to contrast with the traditional dining set. I recommended Ali search craigslist for a midcentury modern credenza that could be painted white.


The PS cabinet was just a “fill in” for the mood board to represent a sleeker, modern contrast to the traditional dining set. I actually suggested that Ali search craigslist for a midcentury modern credenza that could be painted white.

Clients receive an email along with their mood board that goes into further detail about each item and its placement. With each client, I encourage them to tape out furniture dimensions on the floor/walls before buying to check the scale in real life. Ideally, I would go to each client’s house and take measurements and install all the furniture and decor myself…maybe someday.


Beautiful Dana!


I just wanted to give you a huge congrats! I know design has been a goal of yours for a while now, and I am glad you are finding professional success for all your hard work! Though I don’t know you personally, I am proud of you and your accomplishments. Way to go!


This is amazing!! Love the fact that you show their rooms so we can envision it a little more – like everyone else, I would love to see the after pic’s if clients send them in to you! And I would love to see more of these mood boards featured on your blog :)

Considering I just started offering these again, it’s really nice to see someone else’s perspective on it all. I never thought to let them “price their own work” before and really like that. Hope to see more of these on here… I love your taste!

I’ve found some inserts at Lowes for like $8. I think it’s just a regular one [not down- noted to me because I’m allergic]. I would think hobby lobby would have some but I’m not sure!


Hi Dana,
I remember that you were talking about plumbing problems with your house, did you get the plumbing fixed… I have that problem now , and we need to hire a plumber with a camera so we can have a full picture of the problem, not fun. Expecting something a little expensive.


We {HH, me and our plumber included} think the backup was due to thick pricey toilet paper. However, we’ve decided to shell out ~$300 to have a camera look at the lines before we finish and seal up the kid/guest bathroom just in case. Fingers crossed.