Interior Designer Cheryl Luckett’s core belief is that “everyone deserves to dwell in a space they absolutely love and can’t wait to come home to” — and that design services should be affordable enough to make that happen. Today she shares her best tips on how to work with any budget, where to find great decor locally, the best paint color for any room and a few tricks that we’d never heard of! We’re excited to introduce you to this month’s Interior Designer Crush, Cheryl Luckett of Dwell By Cheryl.
How did you get into interior design?
I’ve always had an interest in interior design. In college, long before all the cool dorm product lines existed, my grandmother would sew drapery and throw pillows to complement my bedding. My roommate would mail me her funds so we could have matching sets. Our dorm room was totally pulled together! In fact it was even used to tour prospective students. My first apartment, and later my first home, became the impetus for exploring design more. In 2011, I decided that if I was going to give interior design a go, I’d need more than just a knack. I wanted to establish a good foundational understanding of the discipline, so I went back to school and recently completed a residential interior design program.
How do you find the time to work and study?
Finding the time meant quite a bit of sacrifice. Looking back on it, I think it was a little less difficult because I was so very passionate about the subject. Working a full-time career, running a business and going to school in the evenings wasn’t easy. However, knowing exactly what I was working toward gave me the determination to keep going.
Making interior design services affordable is one of your main goals. Why is that so important to you, and how do you help clients stick to their budgets?
I believe that your home should be a haven, and that shouldn’t have anything to do with the size of your budget. Through a mix of high and low, vintage and new, I’m able to create spaces that are high on style, but not necessarily on costs.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is all around us. Nature probably provides the most. Travel is great, but sometimes it’s the simple sunset on the commute home or the combination of rosy pink and creamy white in my blooming peonies that inspires a beautiful new color scheme. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made a conscious effort to pay close attention to the beauty that surrounds us.
What’s something simple that can be done to make a big impact in a space?
Hands down, paint is one of the most cost-effective, yet high-impact changes you can make to a space. My clients are often amazed at the difference a fresh wall color can make. Color has such a huge impact on how we feel. It’s important to make sure that you select a color that resonates with you and the feeling you hope to evoke within the space.
What’s something to splurge on?
I typically splurge on well-built furniture. It’s one of the main reasons I’m a big fan of upholstery. Good bones are timeless, and the furniture construction of yesteryear is often so much better than what clients can affordably purchase retail. Reupholstering an old piece allows you to customize your fabric selections and details, while giving a once-loved piece a new lease on life. It’s affordable, stylish and green!
How about something you should never splurge on?
I rarely splurge on accessories. They are the trendy items I like to add to a space that are like the sprinkles atop a beautifully iced cake. Shopping vintage affords the opportunity to add unique and sometimes one-of-a-kind items. Estate sales, antique malls, vintage shops and even thrift stores offer a myriad of options, and I love the hunt for a good treasure.
What’s your No. 1 rule of thumb when designing a room?
At the end of the day, it must be livable. I never want my clients to feel as if they can’t enjoy the spaces we’ve created. I always begin with the end in mind. I envision them, dining at the table I’ve sourced, kicking their feet up on the coffee table I found or snuggling up on a super soft sofa that was too comfy to pass up. I design for living.
What’s your favorite store in Charlotte to shop for interiors?
There are so many places to score great finds locally, but I’m partial to our antique malls. I love The Depot at Gibson Mill, Catawba River and Sleepy Poet. I could roam the aisles for hours on end. I find it quite therapeutic. Plus you never know what you’ll find.
Favorite styling hack?
I’ve been known to change the finish color on an accessory or two. I keep an inventory of metallic spray paint for such occasions. Spray paint (and duct tape) have saved many a photo shoot.
What’s the best paint color that will work in any room and why?
There are several tried and true colors that I keep returning to, but my absolute favorite is Valspar Oatbran. I’m likely biased because I live with it every day. It’s my master bedroom and bath color. It is the perfect neutral. It’s halfway between beige and gray (a.k.a. greige). It’s neither too warm nor too cold, and best of all, it works with just about any color.
What’s the biggest design fail you see over and over again? How can we regular folks avoid it?
For some reason, people default to pushing all the furniture against the walls. It inevitably creates a huge void in the middle of the room. Pulling the furniture off the walls and floating it in closer groups creates coziness and allows for better conversation within the seating area. Rugs can also help define these areas. Just make sure that, at a minimum, the front legs of the seating are placed on the rug.
You love to create spaces that are not only beautiful, but also functional. What are your tips for achieving that?
Where possible, I try to add multi-functional furnishings. For example, small stools can double as additional seats, and large storage ottomans can make the perfect family-friendly coffee table. I also take care in fabric selections. Fade resistance, durability and style longevity can be important factors depending on the space and the client’s needs.
Are there any design apps or websites you rely on?
I love Houzz. I spend my evenings (far later than I should) perusing through the beautiful photos in other designers and tradespeople’s portfolios. Surprisingly, I use it far more than I do Pinterest.
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