What's hot right now? What design trends are people raving about throughout the industry? Check back often as we'll be updating this section with news to report.

SAN DIEGO, California — January 21, 2013 – Bella Designs of San Diego, California has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” 2013 by Houzz, the leading online platform for residential remodeling and design. The 10 year old residential and commercial interior design firm was chosen by the more than 11 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Houzz “Best Of Houzz” award for 2013 is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design.Customer Satisfaction award winners are based on homeowner members who rated their experience working withremodeling professionals in 12 categories ranging from architects, and interior designers to contractors and other residential remodeling professionals. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among th community of 11 million monthly users, also known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 124 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhone app and Android app.

“Bella Designs differentiates from other interior design firms by using a collaborative style that clients welcome”.

“Houzz provides homeowners with an in-depth, 360-degree view of building, remodeling and design professionals through images of their work, reviews and an opportunity to interact with them directly in the Houzz community,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community. “We’re delighted to recognize Diane Swenson among our “Best Of” professionals for exceptional customer service as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Diane Swenson, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and evaluating their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.
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Feng Shui is Hot

A new year always seem to elevate people’s wishes for peace, health, and prosperity and Feng Shui can help turn those dreams into reality. Feng Shui certainly isn’t a new trend—it’s been around for more than 4,000 years—but it’s seen a rebirth recently in the design industry.

When your home or business has good Feng Shui, you feel balanced, supported and connected in all areas of your life. If your personal or professional life needs adjusting, a Feng Shui consultation can provide remedies that will enhance and improve your circumstances. There’s a lot more to it than merely moving around a few pieces of furniture.

Diane’s Take: I became certified in Feng Shui five years ago and recently completed an advanced Feng Shui certification program because the principles of this ancient practice really intrigue me. I applied them to my latest commercial project, Marquis Pilates & Fitness in Tierrasanta, and the result (depicted in the photo) is amazing. You can see more of this studio’s transformation on my newly updated website.

For those of you interested in enjoying the benefits of Feng Shui while you get fit, please visit

Outdoor/Indoor Living

Those of us who live in Southern California are fortunate to be able to enjoy outdoor activities year-round, but even in our weather-blessed area, summer is the high time for entertaining alfresco. There are endless possibilities for turning your backyard into a living space that’s functional, comfortable and stylish. Here are a few tips:

  • If you love to cook in the great outdoors, consider installing a backyard kitchen; you might be surprised at the variety of cool appliances—sinks, refrigerators, grills and more—manufactured for outdoor use.
  • Consider using elements like draperies and pergolas to create an exterior “room” that, when filled with comfy furniture, may become your favorite place to relax.
  • Take time to research the detail components of your design, including lighting, tile colors and patterns, and decorative items like flowerpots.


Diane´s Take: Designing for an exterior space isn´t that much different from doing the same thing indoors; the same principles apply, and you just have to make a few tweaks to take the weather variable into account. If you’re not sure how often you´ll make use of a revamped backyard space, start small and you can always add elements as you discover how much you enjoy getting out of the house without leaving home.

Design Apps to Die ForI admit it; I’ve become addicted to my iPhone and iPad. You, perhaps, are similarly enamored with these technology devices, which seem to put the whole world at our fingertips…and now there are a number apps available that can enhance the design process. Here are just a few:
  • Ben Capture Color, an app from Benjamin Moore, allows you match a snapshot of anything to one of its 3,300 colors. ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams provides the same thing for its 1,500 colors.
  • Several tile stores, including Dal-Tile and Crossville, have apps that allow you to browse beautifully crafted rooms that inspire the use of their products.
  • The Mark On Call app is a personal virtual designer that allows you to design rooms with accurate size and layout, including architectural features, floors and furniture.
Diane´s Take: I love it! If you’ve resisted getting an iPhone (or other app-enabled Smart phone), you may want to reconsider just based on the availability of any number of design-focused apps alone. These apps are useful tools…and they´re fun to use.
Accenting With Color
One of my dear friends has a home that her niece refers to as the “rainbow house,” due to the many colors she s chosen to use on the walls of her open living/dining/kitchen space: deep blue, gold, red and purple. Most people aren´t quite that bold, but even if you choose neutral colors for your design palette, you can accent with color to add vibrancy and celebrate a particular season. Here are a few tips:
  • Choose a few colored accent pieces–pillows, lamps or rugs–to add some pizzazz. Yellow is a bold choice for spring that will also work for the summer months.
  • Introduce one colorful piece in the room’s center, perhaps artwork, to create an eye-catching focal point.
If you re really color shy, you can still create an eclectic look by using different shades and textures of brown, beige, black, cream and white. You can even mix different styles to create an environment that´s all you.

Diane´s Take: Unless you´re as daring as my friend, it´s not a bad idea to stick with a neutral wall color and accent with color around the room. This strategy will allow you to swap out accent pieces occasionally to bring a whole new look, and it can be as easy (and inexpensive) as getting some new pillows or flowers.
Designing Around Your Big-Screen TV
The popularity of big-screen TVs has led to a common design issue: how do you incorporate this large piece of electronics into the overall design scheme of your home? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Hide or hang. Many people treat their big-screen TV as a work of art and hang it on the wall, while others prefer to hide it in a media cabinet. This is certainly a matter of personal choice rather than right or wrong.
  • Viewing distance. If you measure the distance from the viewer to the TV screen and divide it by three, you´ll learn the optimal screen size. For instance, if you´ll be sitting 120 inches from the set, the screen size should be 40 inches.
  • TV placement. Your TV will perform best when you can view it straight on, so it´s best to place it eye-level from a seated position. TVs in bedrooms should be somewhat higher, to avoid neck strain.
Diane´s Take: I don´t typically care for having a TV as the focal point of a room (unless it´s a screening room). I really don´t like the somewhat popular trend of displaying big-screen TVs over fireplaces; my suggestion would be to hide it in a decorative cabinet if that´s the where you want it.

Getting Into a Purple State of Mind
Decorating with purple? Absolutely! This versatile color can signal luxury when a deep hue is selected and be calming in its softer shades…and you certainly don´t have to limit its use to your walls.

Dark purples, everything from deep aubergines to blue-tinted shades, evoke a feeling of grandeur and formality. They´re great wall colors for living and dining rooms, and are also appropriate for accent pieces from rugs and glasses to lamps and chairs.

Softer purples, like lavender, are good choices for bedroom and bathroom walls, or for any room where you want a tranquil environment. This soothing color can soften dark furniture, and when used in accent pieces like rugs, sofas, bedding and chairs, it provides an unexpected cheeriness.

Diane’s Take: I´ve always been a purple lover, so I say the more the merrier when it comes to using this great color to enhance your dècor. I have a beautiful purple wall in my own living room. Don t be scared to think out-of-the-box and go purple where it makes sense.

Focus on Intangibles
Gone are the days when only the wealthy could afford items affixed with the luxury label. Many things once considered unattainable by “regular” people, i.e., high-end vehicles like BMWs, suites in four-star hotels, and first-class airline tickets, are now considered commodities due to their widespread availability.

While luxury has traditionally been equated with having a high price tag, that is no longer the case. Luxuries now are more intangible, and are focused on enhancing your life. Today´s luxuries include sleep, time, comfort and relaxation…because these are all things that are found in short supply in most people´s busy lives. You owe it to yourself to do what you can to create a luxurious environment that soothes and refreshes, and you´d be surprised how subtle changes in your home or office can do trick.

Diane´s Take: I´ve always been all about creating a comfortable aesthetic for my clients, so this luxury trend plays right into my strengths. As a way of enhancing the services I provide, I´ve recently started offering Private Quarters´ wonderful line of products for bed, bath and personal pampering. I hope you´ll visit to see what´s available and then schedule an appointment with me so you can feel the textures of affordable luxury.

Décor and Fashion Meld
The line between apparel and home interiors is starting to get a bit hazy, after years of seeing décor trail fashion on a consistent basis. Those who track trends say the advent of the Internet is driving the change. Women have immediate access to the latest fashions, which they want replicated in their homes; the colors they see on the runway are often ending up in their décor.

Black and white will always be classic in both the fashion and décor worlds, and accessorizing that look with bright tones works both on your body and in your living room. Metallics such as gold, copper, silver and bronze are another constant in both worlds, as are beaded and encrusted fabrics.

Diane’s Take: Before you decide to reupholster your favorite chair in the pattern of a much-loved garment, or have a set of drapes made to match one of your wardrobe staples, be sure it actually makes sense to do so based on the total look of the room.

Appliances Get Colorful
While white appliances remain popular—along with trendy stainless steel—major manufacturers are catering to consumers´ love of color by offering products with finishes in a rainbow of colors, everything from Tomato Red and Eggplant to Midnight Blue and Lemonade. (Never fear, no Avocado Green!)

Colorful washers and dryers are all the rage, as homeowners seek to dress up laundry rooms to incorporate them into their homes´ design schemes. Stainless steel remains king for kitchens, but colored refrigerators and ranges are starting to be introduced, with red being a particularly hot choice.

Diane´s Take: Purchasing a colored appliance is not something you should do on a whim. Since appliances have a long life, you want to be sure the color you choose is one you´ll want to live with for some time.

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