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5 design elements to take your home from good to great

hey there and Happy Memorial Day weekend!  I’m taking some time off to rest this long weekend, and thought I’d pop over here on the blog and discuss five design elements that I use in every interior design and redesign project I have,  and how you can incorporate them into your own space.

Have you ever wished there was a guide out there that said, “do this, use this, paint this- and voila! completed and beautiful interior space!!”  (come to think of it, I wish there were a guide like this for many things…..parenting, bookkeeping, cooking…..I digress.)

While there are many guides, blogs, books, etc. out there that promise all the above- I choose to keep things simple.  There are several things I believe work together in an interior space that make it feel cohesive and pulled together- and I’m going to show you in one of my recently completed projects.


when you’re scared of making a mistake

Don’t be!

Listen…there are very few things, if any, in decor and design that can’t be undone- so don’t fear “making a mistake” so much that you don’t do anything.  this was not completely the case for my clients…they are both professionals and on-the-go so much, they don’t have a lot of extra time.  and when they did have time, the last thing they wanted to do was decorate their home.  so they called me in to help them pull everything together in their new home.

(they may have mentioned they were unsure of what to do, so they just didn’t do anything.  classic design paralysis.  happens to the best of us.)


the five design elements I use in every space


1.  lighting


One of THE most important elements in a space is the lighting.  (if you’ve not downloaded my free mini-magazine that explains this in detail,  get it here.)  For me, lighting can make or break a space, and this space was begging for the warmth of accent lighting with lamps.  The room already had plenty of general illumination with recess lighting in the ceiling, but the ceiling fan light left it feeling bright and cold.  Overhead lighting is never my favorite, and I only use it when necessary.  My favorite remedy for overhead lighting is to add a dimmer switch.  My electricians know not to even come to one of my projects without a truck full of them:)


Yellow family room before Elizabeth Scruggs redesigned it.


2.  texture


Adding texture lends to the visual “feel” of the space.  In the photo above, everything is linear and straight. Tthere are straight lines on everything- the flooring, the tables, the walls, the doors, the television, and the fireplace.  Aside from the existing rugs and furniture, the elements in the room lacked softness and texture.  Adding this into a space can be done with rugs, throws, baskets, drapery panels, and pillows.

Traditional family room vignette

We brought down the sofa from upstairs because the scale was better for the room.  We then added a new rug, pillows, and drapery panels to soften all the linear elements of the room.


3.  books


Don’t even get me started on books.  We will still be here tomorrow at this time if I get started on all of the reasons there should be books in a space/ home.

*as a side note, you wouldn’t believe how many homes I go into that have NO books!  what the WHAT????  I can’t even.  But rest assured if we ever work together on your space, and you don’t have any books….. you WILL when the project is complete.

Books add character to a space.  They make the space feel lived in.  They add color and interest in shelving units, on coffee tables, and on mantles.  Not to mention they are great conversation starters!  They are the least expensive accessory you can purchase, they require no batteries, no electrical outlets, and they can enrich your mind- what’s not to love about that?

Traditional Entry Using 5 Design Elements by Superior Construction and Design


4.  foliage

Eevery space can benefit from something living and green.  Plants add life and color to a space AND help clean the air.  I always add greenery or flowers in a space.  Things that require minimal upkeep and last, such as philodendron, succulents and orchids.

However, I used……

f-f-f-f-f-faux foliage

in this space.

*(cue Fonzie from Happy Days trying to say he was w-w-w-w-w-w-wrong.  he could hardly get the word out.)

I never say never, but I almost NEVER use faux foliage.


BUT…..I have to learn my client’s needs and wants when designing a space, and most importantly-  learn how they live.  this couple is almost never home.  I didn’t want to give them something they had to take care of, and then feel bad about if it didn’t make it.

so….although the one I found for the mantle is quite beautiful as far as FAUX BOXWOOD topiaries go, it is never my first choice.

Traditional Family room redesign by Elizabeth Scruggs Superior Construction and Design in Lebanon TN



5.  the past


If there are no elements of the homeowner’s past in the space, then the room has no soul.  We all crave connection- to people, places, and memories.  Displaying pieces from our past in collections, or memories in photo frames around the room provide that connection to someone or someplace that we love.  And love should be at the heart of every space in every home.

I talked about this project in a previous blog post here, and if you read or saw that, then you know that my clients told me at the beginning of this project that they had nothing they could use to decorate their home-  that I would need to buy everything new.  Oh how wrong they were…

While I did purchase many new things for the space, I found amazing treasures when I shopped their home.  I found pieces of art one of them had done as a child.  I found photographs of family that had not seen the light of day for years.  And then my client asked me if I *might* use some watercolors the his wife’s aunt had painted for them decades ago.

*this is when I about fell out….um YES.  YES we will use those!

And here is how they turned out after framing and arranging on a once-empty wall.

Watercolor gallery wall by Elizabeth Scruggs Superior Construction and Design in Lebnaon TNi


Now please realize- this was an almost completely empty wall before I started.  And NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING in this photograph was not something that my clients didn’t already own.

Sometimes we just need someone else to show it to us in a new light.  🙂


Which of these elements do you already have in your space?  Which do you want to add?  Comment below and let me know which one of these is YOUR favorite to incorporate in your space:)


oh…. I have a favor to ask of my readers.  I’ve been nominated by my colleagues as one of 2018’s Most Influential People in Real Estate Staging.  I’m ever so honored to be nominated, and if you have a minute, I’d love it if you could vote for me by clicking here.  Just scroll until you see my photo and click the heart and that’s all!  You don’t have to enter your email address or any info at all.  This is not an award for one person, but will be a list of the Top 50 People, so be sure to read about my colleagues that were nominated as well.  We will find out in June if we’ve made the Top 50- and I’ll be sure to let y’all know if I do.

thanks y’all♥

RESA Most Influential People 2018


Your information will never be shared or sold to a 3rd party.

By |2018-05-29T09:54:30-05:00May 28th, 2018|design|


  1. Peggy Hudson May 29, 2018 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Beautiful design and I know your clients were thrilled! You saved them SO much money in the process and it is still like new!

    • Elizabeth Scruggs June 8, 2018 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Yes, they loved it- and we did save money using some of their own items:) and that’s what makes the space “theirs!”

  2. Jeri June 3, 2018 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Love how you work with your clients, Elizabeth -musing their important pieces truly makes it ‘home’.

    • Elizabeth Scruggs June 8, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      oh it’s so true isn’t it Jeri? without pieces of our client’s that are special and have meaning, it would just be another room….thanks for stopping by!!

  3. PAM KLEIN June 8, 2018 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    My favorite is “lighting”. There can never be too much info on how lighting plays such a huge part in design and functionality. However I will say I’ve been a bit more challenged lately due to the changes made to the standard light bulb. Everything now is LED and I’m totally lost replacing my iridescents.

    • Elizabeth Scruggs June 8, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      oh Pam, that is my favorite!! Lighting makes such a difference in a space! and yes, it’s hard to give up our old bulbs for sure! thanks for stopping by and commenting:)

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