3 Designers, 3 Rooms

Get free decorating advice from seven designers who created beautiful "rooms" as part of the fourth annual Design on a Dime fund-raiser, sponsored by Real Simple.

Lucas AllenLucas AllenA Homey Office

The Look
The Real Simple editors designed a comfortable, multifunctional space that makes getting down to work a lot less grueling. The upholstered sofette from Pottery Barn is comfortable enough for both an impromptu meeting and a quick catnap.

The Ideas
A rug by Madeline Weinrib complements walls painted in Blue Hydrangea by Benjamin Moore, which provided all the paint for the event. The lime green chair adds a shot of color, while smart-looking perforated metal bins hide extra office supplies.

The Real Simple Challenge
The designers were asked to work these three items into their creations, to show how the same piece can take on many different personalities.

  • Terri Crystal Lamp by Circa Lighting
  • Chin Chin Trays by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
  • Macau Chair by Ballard Designs

Related: How to Organize Your Home Office

Lucas AllenLucas Allen
A Cozy Nook

The Look
Suzanne Kasler has a thing for horses. To create this space, she painted the walls in Kingsport Gray and covered them with horse-bit prints that she designed. Another equine touch: old horseshoes repurposed as curtain brackets.

The Ideas
"The art has so many patterns, so I kept everything else neutral," says Kasler, who painted the chair in the same subtle color as the walls and upholstered both the bench and the chair in inexpensive burlap. The tray (to the left of the bench on the floor) cradles a print, while the round mirror softens the edges of the artwork. A pillow, a throw, and a decorative ceramic ball in bright orange add oomph.

Three Questions for…Suzanne Kasler

1. Which colors make a great match?
I love combining classic white and French blue. The blue works well because it has some gray in it, so it can be elegant or it can be fresh and fun.

2. What is your favorite decorating trick?
To paint a really bold color on the ceiling. I've done that when I want to punch up a room but would rather not use a bright color on all four walls.

3. Is there a decorating no-no that's actually ok?

Painting a small room in a dark color. Artwork tends to show up better against a dark wall; it can add dimension and become a room's focal point.

Suzanne Kasler, an Atlanta-based interior designer, recently unveiled a line of furniture for home-furnishings company Hickory Chair.

See Real Simple's No-Money Home Makeover Ideas

Lucas AllenLucas Allen An Island Idyll

The Look
"I call it my Jamaica moment," says Charlotte Moss of this breezy, summery space. The designer chose natural materials -- bamboo furniture, a sisal rug -- for texture and went with blue accents, like the mirror and the tray, because "blue evokes the ocean."

The Ideas
To make the room look lived-in, Moss rummaged through her closet and found silky robes to drape over chairs. The wall stripes, painted in Fiji and Mascarpone, are playfully wide -- "like big cabana stripes," she says -- and deceptively easy to apply, since "they're simply the width of the roller." After cutting a leaf design into a halved raw potato, she dipped it in the Fiji paint and stamped the shade and the chair cushion.

Three Questions for…Charlotte Moss

1. Which colors make a great match?
Pale aqua and ivory -- it's an easy combination to build from. You can keep the palette quiet by adding a soft color like butter yellow, or intensify it with a deep claret.
2. What is your favorite decorating trick?
You can get a lot of mileage from repurposing an inexpensive sheet. Try using a pretty embroidered one as a tablecloth in the dining room, or cut a piece from a graphic one and wrap it around a lamp shade. 3. Is there a decorating no-no that's actually ok?
By introducing one unexpectedly large piece of furniture, you can change the entire look of a room. You have to be a little adventurous sometimes.

Interior designer Charlotte Moss owns the Charlotte Moss Townhouse, a home-furnishings shop in New York City.

More Rooms:
A Spalike Bathroom
An Urban Oasis
A Rustic Retreat
A Dramatic Sitting Area