Kelly Hartley started Hartley Home Design after sharing her kitchen transformation on Instagram. Loving light, bright, and fresh decor, Kelly brings forth a cool and comfortable aesthetic to her designs. She sat down with us to share more of her favorite tips for creating a beautiful space on a budget.

Tell us about Hartley Home Design. How did you get started? 

We renovated our kitchen and I started an Instagram account to share that project and others in our home. Once our friends saw what we could do, they started asking for help with their houses. I worked with one of them on their remodel for free to see if I liked designing for others, and also if someone else would like my work. They liked it, as did I, and I started to get referrals. One referral led to another and Hartley Home was born. 

What is your approach to putting together design boards? What are some of your favorite brands to work with?

I work with clients that need budget-friendly home decor. So my favorite places to source furniture and decor are the ones that most people use. I love Pottery Barn, Houzz, West Elm, and the Wayfair websites to name a few off the top of my head.  Also, I have a special place for Etsy- especially for pillow covers! I also love using small shops that I’ve connected with through Instagram. For small decor items, I mainly shop at Homegoods, TjMaxx, etc. My tagline is “High-end style on a DIY budget” and so my sourcing reflects that. For design boards, I like to start with one piece that I LOVE or that the client loves. It can be a rug, art, a table… whatever! Once I have that, I get the feel or the mood I want for the space and I run with it. 

Where do you get your inspiration? What’s your design philosophy?

I’m inspired mostly by other designers and home bloggers. I am on Instagram every day, engaging with my peers, and looking for inspiration. I’m also inspired by nature. I love to add organic pieces and bring the outdoors in. Nature is the ultimate interior designer;  always combining the prettiest colors and textures. 

What are some of your favorite projects? 

My favorite projects are always the ones we do in our own homes. Sorry, clients! Haha! When my husband and I work together on projects, it’s when the magic really happens. There is no one to tell me they don’t like what I choose, and I just get to be free with my designs. Plus it is ok to make mistakes when it’s your own house, so I feel more free to take chances. Dan is great at thinking through my ideas from a construction standpoint and keeps me realistic. But he never hinders my creativity. He finds a way to bring my ideas to life and I love working with him to make our house into our special home. 

What are your tips for making a house feel more like a home?

To make a house feel like a home, all you really need are the people you love inside of it. But, if we’re talking decor, adding in family photos, layers of cozy textiles, and staying organized really make a house feel like a home to me. When you walk into someone’s house, and it’s tidy and well-styled, it makes you want to stay awhile. When it’s messy and a hodge-podge of years of clutter, you don’t feel as “at home”. Hope that makes sense. 

Can you share a few of your favorite DIY projects?

My favorite DIY projects are our kitchen, master bath, and dining room wall. With the kitchen, we took down one wall and added in another. These changes made it possible to have our floating shelves, breakfast nook, and island. I love how it opened up our home and made it feel so much larger. With the master bathroom, we took out a wall and door and it also made our outdated dungeon bathroom into one that feels like a spa. The dining wall wasn’t a huge project, but it made a huge impact. We had a plant ledge that I never liked on the wall. We covered it up with beautiful board and batten and now I can’t take my eyes off of it. I want to add wood treatments to so many walls now! 

For someone overwhelmed with starting a project, what piece of advice would you give them?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the start, first of all, realize you are not alone! We have a few big DIYs under our belts and I always feel overwhelmed at the start. But my advice to help this is to make a to-do list and start checking things off. Once you start to see that little bit of progress happening, (even if all you’ve checked off is to go supply shopping), you will start to feel more and more accomplished. Just take it one step at a time and be realistic with your timeline too. 

What are 3 of your favorite home tricks and hacks?

Home tricks and hacks… hmm…                    

  • Use lots of baskets! Baskets hide all of the mess and clutter that I was talking about before. Baskets give everything a home and make cleaning up in a hurry so much easier. They’re a life saver when you have children too.              
  • Hang curtains higher and wider than your windows. It makes them look larger.    
  • Never forget the power of paint. Paint is the most inexpensive, high impact change you can make in your home. Be creative with it. Paint doors, trim work, furniture, etc. I’ve even painted tile floors.                      
  • I have one more. Use a pillow insert that is a size larger than your pillow cover. It makes the pillow look full and more high quality. 

What was your favorite tip from Kelly? Leave a comment below!

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