Purposeful Design With Kathleen Dipaolo

Kathleen DiPaolo

is here today, and I'm excited to share her with you. Kathleen's both a talented interior designer, and a successful real estate professional.  She uses her knowledge and experience to create beautiful interiors for her clients while adding value to their homes.

Thank you so much for inviting me to share my take on Purposeful Design!

I love how this subject hit a nerve with your readers- including me!!

Design has so many purposes.

We design a space to evoke a feeling, to bring a family together, to get a space ready to sell, to entertain with ease, to make one happy and to help organize!

When I design a room or a home, I begin by determining the purpose of the space, in order to make the best selections. Purpose is so subjective that I often find myself in the role of “marriage counselor” to define a mutual purpose for a couple!


My goal is that you can see the purpose and it invokes a feeling with a quick glance at the space.

I will show several living rooms I designed and state their purposes below.

This living room was designed to be a serene showroom for my client’s many collections, including California plein-air paintings, early American antique furnishings and antique blue and white.

Their previous house had many of the same pieces, but the fabrics made the house feel like a museum.

The fabrics we selected are beautiful, but they purposefully take the back stage to everything else.

They are soft, yet elegant- just like my clients!

The goal in the space below was to create a cozy, soothing environment where my clients could relax and entertain.

A big challenge was that the ceilings were 14’ high and the room was 22’ long!

I had to put lighting at many different levels in an attempt to make the space cozy.

I placed the fireplace at eye level, so you could snuggle by the fire. My clients love red wine, so fabrics had to be bullet proof. So the order was cozy and open, yet bullet proof.

This next space was designed for comfort while paying tribute to my client’s antiques that had been handed down from her parents.

The space was right off the entry, so the vibe had to hit you in the eye as soon as you walked in.

Sophisticated, yet intimate and did I mention she has 2 golden retrievers and three children?

So, a little durable fabric selection was a part of the order.

This living room below was designed for the worst client of all- me!


I wanted a space that made me happy.

Green is my favorite color, so I cloaked the room in it.

My husband and I have three kids and a dog that loves to lounge on the sofa.

Don’t judge


So, I poured scotch guard on everything.

I have spilled my coffee on the sofas too many times to admit – and they still look great!

Thanks, again, Jennifer!!

I loved thinking about this!


oxo, K

Thank you, for sharing your gorgeous work, Kathleen!

Did you notice that each of the four living areas above is a completely different style? It's obvious that


is truly designing to create spaces that suit her client's individual tastes and purposes. 

She's is a very busy lady who has lots of interesting and exciting things in the works.  I'll be sharing more about her soon.

Purposeful Living With Design Chic

Beth and Kristy are the lovely, talented, and very tasteful mother-daughter team who make up

Design Chic

.  I'm thrilled they're here today sharing their insights into Purposeful Design.


Andrew J. Howard

Thanks so much for having us today, Jennifer! We love being able to share our idea of Purposeful Design with your fabulous readers -- and, of course, getting to be on one of our favorite blogs!


Andrew J Howard

Design, for us, has to have purpose. Otherwise, what's the point? With families and pets, kids and entertaining, red wine and, well, occasionally, eating dinner on the couch, our homes have to work with our lives. They have to look beautiful but also be able to stand up to some pretty serious




Tracery Interiors

Home is one of the very foundations of life, and creating a space surrounded by things you love is one of the best ways to express yourself and find meaning.

Tracery Interiors

We believe in candles and flowers, moldings and music, and using your fine china every day.

JK Kling Design

We believe that beauty for the sake of beauty adds pleasure and fullness to life and that those small moments surrounded by people you love add up to something really big.

APD Architects

It isn’t about the size of your house or the quality of your furniture – and it certainly isn’t about being perfect; it’s about creating a place that feels authentically you and designing a canvas that evolves as you do.

bedroom lightng .geoff chic jack gardner photog

Geoff Chick Architect - Jack Gardner Photographer

No matter what the magazines say, the right house for you is the one that's filled with things that speak to you, that make you feel your best.

Fairfax and Sammons

Because, at the end of the day, orchestrating your ideal life, finding purpose, and becoming your best self all begin at home.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

So very well said, Kristy and Beth!  Thank you for sharing both your thoughful ideas on home and these beautiful images.

I completely agree with the amazing

Design Chic

ladies that we enjoy our homes most when they feel authentic to us and our families.  And, I love their mention that this is not about perfection. Striving for perfection sounds quite unenjoyable, and this is all about our optimal enjoyment of  home.

Purposeful Design

Patrick Cline via


When you look at interior design photos, do you only look critically, thinking specifically about color, placement and design? Or, do you also notice the tone each room conveys?  Rooms do set particular moods, and it's helpful to discern the feeling you want your home to create before you begin an interior design project.  

 Celerie Kemble via

To Your Taste

I posted about this topic 


, mentioning that we should start the design process with a specific purpose in mind.  My priority is that my house makes me feel happy.  I don't want to spend money to impress others, or to keep up with whatever happens to be trending at the moment.  Instead, I want to surround myself with colors, textures, patterns, etc. that will enhance my enjoyment of home.  

Luis Bustamante via

Desire to Inspire

What makes this subject so fascinating to me is that we all need something different to create our optimal setting.  And, it's also interesting that what we like doesn't always correlate with the mood we want our homes to provide.  A perfect example for me is the Luis Bustamante dining room above.  I did a double-take when I ran across it recently, and I think it's gorgeous. But, if I imagine sitting at this table having dinner, I begin to realize that it doesn't convey exactly the right tone for me.

 Mary McDonald via


I can't help but think of Goldilocks as I imagine myself sitting at these different tables. Hmm, which one is just right?

 Amanda Nisbet via

Dazzling Design

To easily compare, 

I chose images to share of extremely differing styles.

  It's almost jarring moving from one photo to the next.

 John Christensen via

New York Apartments:  Private Views

This topic is so subjective.  While I've never cared for the level of formality and opulence above, I know many others will think it's perfection.  I love that we all have such different tastes -- it keeps things interesting.

Jan Showers via

Glamorous Retreats

Not considering mood is a common mistake.  Designers understand its importance, but many DIYers don't think about setting tone until they've already set the wrong one.  I made that mistake in my first apartment.  I was quite excited to have my own space to design, and started with the living area.  When it was completed, it was pretty. I'd used color well, and had a great mix of pattern and texture. The placement of furniture worked and the flow was good.   

 Alia Miriam via


I was pleased with my room for a while.  Slowly, I started noticing that the space made me feel a little restrained and sedate.  I had created a room that would work perfectly as a more formal living area for a family. As I was single and in my mid-twenties the tone was far off target.

 Kishani Perera via


Funnily enough, a visiting friend mentioned that my apartment made them feel like they were in their parent's living room.  I didn't think it was funny then.

I can laugh now, but I learned a valuable lesson that I won't forget. Now, the purpose of every design project in my house is the same. It's to create the atmosphere that will make me feel my best. Fortunately for us all, what makes me feel happiest also works for my family : )

What do you consider the purpose when embarking on an interior design project?  Did you see a dining room above that sets the right tone for your home?

Purposeful Design with Chinoiserie Chic

Last Wednesday, I introduced

my new series, Purposeful Design

. This series focuses on the importance of interior design as it relates to how we feel in our homes.  The design choices we make all work toward setting a tone.  The highest priority of interior design in our homes should be to create a setting that makes us most happy.

Beth, from

Chinoiserie Chic

, is here today telling us what she's done in her beautiful house to create her perfect surroundings.

For me, nothing establishes the tone and feel of a home like your choice of color. It is always where I start. I am definitely not a white walls kind of girl. There is nothing white in my wardrobe and there is not a white wall in my home. Tony Duquette said "Coral is my neutral" and that is definitely me. I use color in my home to reflect my personality. I would describe myself as -




*happy, upbeat, high energy

The feminine side of me is reflected in my love of pink. My dressing room is pink and I use pink everywhere in my home, except in those rooms dedicated to my husband like his man cave and his private bathroom.

My dressing room

My living room

To add glamour to any room, nothing beats gold.

My office

My living room

To keep things sophisticated, I have two tips. Tip number one is to always have some black in the room. It will ground the room and keep the pretty colors from becoming too sweet.

My laundry room

My living room

My second tip to keep things sophisticated is to not go "pretty" with your paint colors.  I like soft and subtle colors on the walls that are somewhat muted and grayed. I attended a Farrow & Ball lecture one night and the British speaker said "We like our colors a bit ugly." I knew exactly what she meant. That is why I love the subtly of the Farrow & Ball color chart and the Benjamin Moore Historic Colors collection. I am also very partial to a flat finish on walls. Here are some paint colors on walls in my house. They are the perfect backdrop for all the colors I love to use in my home.

To keep a mood that is happy, upbeat, and energized, I surround myself with all the colors I love - especially pink, blue, and gold as well as touches of green and yellow. All pastels look great together, and I mix them all with wild abandon. But, I am a VERY high energy person who likes lots going on in my life and lots of stimulation. This might not be right for you.

My office

I also love the happy vibe of a blue and white room and keep adding them to my home. I have a blue and white foyer, laundry room, bedroom, and bathroom. Blue and white rooms to me are uniquely calming and soothing while at the same time uplifting and energizing.

My laundry room

I hope you have enjoyed this peek into my home and my philosophy for setting the tone in your own home.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your gorgeous house with us, and for explaining how you've created the upbeat, energetic, feminine, and sophisticated environment you prefer.

This topic is fascinating as it combines both interior design and psychology.  So many of us think of our interiors in terms of what's current or what's trending instead of considering what will make us feel our best in our homes. 

If Beth hadn't shared in this post how she wants to feel in her interiors, I would have been able to make a list of her objectives that would correlate almost identically with what she's written here.  Obviously, she's been very successful accomplishing her goals.

Purposeful Design

Jonathan Adler says your home should be an antidepressant, and I completely agree.  In a very concise way, he's making reference to the psychological impact our surroundings create. The way our visual environment affects our mood is very interesting, and it's also something we should consider before we begin any interior design project. In looking at the paint colors above, you're drawn to some more than others, and it's all about how those colors make you feel. I see fascinating information from time to time about the psychology of color as it applies to branding and product design. Obviously, it also applies to our interiors.

Understanding the psychological effects of design is something I find fascinating, and I'll be thinking and sharing about that here. The interior design process is always most successful when it begins with specific purpose, and I think that purpose should be optimal enjoyment of our homes.

So many of us never consider this as we contemplate our interiors. We do think about what we like, which actually may not correspond to how we'd like to feel in our houses. For example, I like this room below, but the mood it creates isn't right for me.


Lamps Plus

While it's not what I need, it's no doubt the exact tone that many others want which keeps design interesting.  Wouldn't it be tedious if all of our spaces were alike?

Instead of looking at the entries below in terms of whether or not you like each one, focus on the tone each room conveys.  If you were to walk into each space from the front door, what's the mood that would greet you?

 1)  Sue De Chiara's house via










 10)  via

Desire to Inspire

 11)  via

McGrath II





As I imagine being in each of these entries, I notice extremely varying tones, and I prefer some much more than others. We should all have an awareness of the way we want to feel in our homes before making design choices. Interior design can be both expensive and time consuming.  Shouldn't the greatest enjoyment of our surroundings be the result of these efforts? 

There's no right or wrong with this approach; it's, of course, completely subjective. Some feel best in a darker more moody space. Others may need lots of white and pastels. Neither is preferable or correct. It's about pinpointing what you need from your environment if you haven't already.  And, beyond that awareness, it's important to know how to create that climate in your home.  Next Wednesday, a chic guest will tell us the tones she wants her house to convey, and what she's done to achieve that.

Lastly, I'll share my recently redesigned entry for

The One Room Challenge

.  This space makes me feel exactly the way I want to feel in my house.