How To Get the Most Out of Working With An Interior Design Firm
Serving Austin & the Dallas Metroplex
Doris Younger, ASID, RID | TX Certified Interior Designer #2977

A Kitchen Remodel Adds Happiness and Value

Most real estate professionals will tell you that a kitchen remodel will add the most resale value to your home. An upgraded kitchen is one of the strongest selling points to prospective buyers. However, resale value isn’t the only reason to consider a kitchen upgrade. The kitchen is truly the heart of most homes. Who doesn’t have happy memories that center around family and friends gathered in a kitchen? It’s where family meals are prepared and enjoyed. It’s where holiday treats and birthday cakes are baked. The kitchen is the place for long conversations over cups of coffee and glasses of wine. Upgrading your kitchen will transform it to a stylish haven, where happy memories are just waiting to happen.


Practical Planning for Your Kitchen Upgrade

There are many things to consider when planning a remodel project. A practical consideration when planning your new space is the “kitchen triangle”. This is the triangle of space between your stove, sink, and refrigerator. The smaller this triangular space is, the more efficient you can be while preparing your meals. Also, the fewer steps you have to take between the “points” on the triangle will increase safety. Safety, as well as functionality, should be a consideration in planning a kitchen remodel. You don’t want insufficient counter space, cupboards that are too high, or a tight closed-in workspace. Everything in your kitchen should be easy to reach safely, with minimal effort.


Create a Remodeling Plan

Take some time to study your current kitchen. Are there features in your space that you want to keep? Perhaps your existing cupboards can be refaced, instead of having brand new ones installed? Or maybe you live in an older home, and are ready to bring your entire kitchen into the 21st century? A total kitchen remodel can be an intimidating project. We will help you make a list of what you absolutely want to have done, then a list of secondary priorities. Once we get your ideas down on paper, the overall project should seem less daunting. With your ideas in hand we’ll work to bring your vision to reality.


Good Lighting Is Essential

Good lighting is an important part of the kitchen. Not only can you choose visually appealing fixtures, but you can make sure the lighting is placed in optimal positions. A good overhead light is very important over the kitchen triangle area and under-cabinet lights can brighten up dark countertops. If you have an eat-in kitchen, dimmer switches or mood lighting can be utilized to create a relaxing or fun dinner atmosphere.

Contact us if you are ready to get started on the kitchen upgrade of your dreams!

How To Plan Lighting

Lighting has a beautiful way of bringing a room to life.  When properly selected, lighting fixtures and lamps become decorative accessories as well as functional objects.  Rooms require light that’s evenly dispersed to prevent glare or dark corners.  Since natural light is rarely sufficient, three levels of light are needed:  overhead lighting for the most ambient light, floor lamps and table lamps.  Thus, three levels of light emerge; ceiling height, mid-height and lower height, adding interest to a room.  Up-lights behind plants add additional interest and mood and, where possible, lights should be on a dimmer for control. The first thing to consider when selecting lighting is how many  light sources your room will actually need.  A small room will need at least 3 sources of light, while a larger room will need at least 5 sources of light to be pleasing.

There are three distinct types of lighting:

  1. Ambient: For overall general illumination such as ceiling fixtures.
  2. Task:  For specific functions such as reading, sewing or writing.
  3. Focal:  For accenting a particular area or item such as a sculpture or painting.

Next consider how the lamps will be used.

Desk Lamps with the bottom of the shade about 15” above the working surface will have an even spread of light. If you are right handed, the desk lamp should be placed on the left side and vice versa.

Table Lamps should measure no more than 20” higher than the bed to avoid glare. Floor lamp measurement from floor to shade bottom should be 47” to 49”.  For reading, place about 10” behind the chair seat.

Chandeliers used in a dining room are often the most important decorative, as well as practical accessory. When used over a dining table, the bottom of a chandelier should be at least 30” off the surface.  Remember that a chandelier’s size should relate not only to the room but, more importantly, to your table.  A radius of approximately 10” should be allowed from the chandelier edge to the table edge, all around.

A successful room includes a mixture of brighter and more subtle lighting.  A mix of shadows and brights creates an eye-pleasing effect.  Bright light directed to a wall can actually make a room seem larger by pushing it outward.

At DYD, our resources include an unlimited selection of lighting styles to complement any interior design.  We have extensive training regarding lighting ideas and techniques and would love to work with you on a lighting plan that would enhance your setting.

What is Universal Design?

No one wants to feel like they are a prisoner in their own home.  However, many of today’s homes, new as well as old, are not designed for independence.  Most homes are designed for active adults and not for someone with limited mobility or needing special care.  For instance, if you were in a wheelchair and your home had stairs, could you still access a full bathroom downstairs, or if you needed to sit while showering, would you have a seat in the shower with full access to the controls?  Also, would a wheelchair fit through the doorways in your home and would you be able to function in your kitchen?
Creating a home that is a safe, functional, comfortable and a more supportive environment for the broadest range of people is the concept of Universal Design.   This can be important for people of any age, not just the elderly, because mobility can be temporarily altered, for example, because of a broken leg or due to a short term illness.
Universal Design incorporates such elements as step-less entryways, lever style handles on doors and faucets, wider doorways, grab bars in baths, cabinets with pull out shelves, kitchen counters at several heights to accommodate different tasks and postures and light switches with large flat panels rather than toggle switches.  For people with vision limitations, good lighting is essential, particularly “task lighting” in areas where work is performed like kitchens and desks.  Well lit entryways, hallways, steps and closets are important and the use of sensors or timers are ideal in these areas.  Also included in Universal Design are air quality issues, noise levels and factors affecting emotional well being.  Enhancements such as these benefit people of all ages and abilities and help reduce the possibility of falls and accidents.
As baby boomers are approaching retirement age and as life expectancy rises, there is a growing interest in the importance of Universal Design and “aging in place”.  Many of these smaller modifications can be done by a home owner in an existing home at a modest cost.  However for larger applications or building a new home, a qualified interior designer experienced in Universal Design can help with the best decisions for you ensuring you will enjoy your home for years to come.

How To Choose Type of Lights

Types of Lighting

Are you confused about the different types of lighting, how they perform and when to use them? A basic understanding of lighting types and techniques will help you choose the correct type and enhance your room's overall style with the correct quality and quantity of light. When choosing the right ones, pay attention to two numbers on the product's published information: the color temperature (Kelvin rating) and the color rendering index (CRI). All bulbs are rated according to the Kelvin scale which monitors how blue or pink the light will appear. Typical incandescent lighting is between 2700K and 3000K which is warm. Compare that to daylight which is 5000 Kelvin and very cool. Halogen light is closer to 3000K and, therefore, similar to incandescent in warmth. LED's are the darling of architects and designers and the newest on the scene. As a fairly new product, the technology is changing and improving but they are available in many colors excellent for special effects and are now offered in warmer white light comparable to incandescent bulbs. The CRI monitors how accurately a light source will render color. A testing lab ranks a source on a 100 point scale. Light sources with higher CRI values will ensure your cabinets and other finishes stand out and help the room feel natural. What you want is a light that ranks at 80 or above to keep things from looking flat. So how do the different lights compare and what are the pros and cons?


Pros: Last 750 to 1000 hours Dimming can extend lamp life Color temp is about 2700K Inexpensive Cons: Least energy efficient Loses 95% of energy to heat


These bulbs offer a similar color temperature to incandescent bulbs but last longer and are slightly more energy efficient. However, they do get extremely hot. Pros: Moderate life (2000 to 4000 hours) Dimmable Slightly more efficient than incandescent Color temp is 2800 to 3100K Cons: Heat is a problem


Fluorescent bulbs are becoming the obvious replacement for incandescent bulbs as we are moving towards higher energy saving standards. Many fluorescents are now available in the 2700K to 3000K range producing a slightly warmer light. They do contain a small amount of mercury but if recycled properly, they actually cause less mercury to be exposed to the atmosphere through lowered energy consumption. Pros: Good energy efficiency Good to excellent color Dimmable Many more decorative fixture styles available Cons: Sensitive to cold Contain Mercury


LED's are the fastest growing contender in the market and ongoing research is improving the technology. LED bulbs produce about the same amount of light as a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) but LED lights are completely directional focusing their light in one direction while incandescent and fluorescent bulbs send light in all directions. This is great for task lighting but not very desirable for general lighting. The light cast by LED's is a white light closer to the color temperature of daylight although we've recently seen LED's produced in warmer white light as well. Pros: Saves money on electricity Light is comparable to the color of daylight Uses only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3 to 1/30 of incandescent or CFL) Long lasting, up to 60,000 hours of bulb life Generates little heat Works with most dimmers Instant on/off Works in cold weather Can sustain moderate power surges Durable bulbs - no fragile filaments to break Directional lighting generates less wasted light Cons: They are still expensive but are becoming more affordable

Selecting an Interior Designer

When you’re ready to select an interior designer to work with on your project, the number of individuals and firms to choose from can be daunting.  How do you know if you've chosen a professional designer?  In general, you want a designer with the following characteristics:

  1. Is accredited as an interior designer (If required in your state as in Texas, be sure the designer is licensed.)
  2. Has experience in the type of project you are doing
  3. Has demonstrated creativity, talent and resourcefulness
  4. Is attentive, responsive and communicates well
  5. Has a record of reliability and good work habits.

One way to ensure you are working with a professional interior designer is if he or she is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers.  ASID member designers must meet the profession’s education and experience requirements, as well as adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional conduct.  The ASID appellation after a designer’s name indicates that he or she is an accredited interior designer who has passed rigorous professional scrutiny and testing.

Just for Fun with Doris Younger Designs

The evolution of furniture from utilitarian to artful is often a key to the manners, mores and means of other times and places.  In that spirit and just for fun, here are “romance” stories about some of those pieces picked up over thirty five years of studying and practicing interior design.  Are they true? I don’t know for sure but if not, I’m sure at the very least they contain seeds of truth in the development of traditional furniture styles and, as I said, just for fun……. Read More fun stories here.