10 Design Tips from Stephen Saint-Onge

Decorator Stephen Saint-Onge joins the Better Homes and Gardens team to bring you design with a real-life, family focus.

Light Know-How

Stephen is a firm believer in the power of lighting in creating a welcoming environment. His background in film taught him to be creative with resources and also how lighting is the final layer in any room design -- one that truly brings the room to life in the way it deserves.

"I love this space because it's inviting, it's comfortable, but at the same time, it's open and airy despite the darker and bulkier pieces of furniture. The natural light and flow of the furnishings keeps it light."

Split-Level Solution

Here, Stephen came up with a cozy solution for a tricky split-level home. He turned it into casual gathering place for the family, leaving the palette neutral for a relaxing vibe.

"This is one of my favorite designs I've ever done because it is a fine example of 21st-century family living. It's a split-level home that's now functional, inviting, and family-friendly."

Create Destinations

Stephen decorates for the homeowners -- he thinks about how they will use the room and what their potential favorite spot might be. That's how he arrived at this charming window-seat vignette.

"I'm all about creating 'moments' in a room -- something that catches your eye and draws you to this area of your room. And by creating moments you're creating areas where you want to hang out."

Make a Retreat

Look at your rooms in a whole new way, says Stephen. See if your rooms have the potential for a little nook devoted to you or another member of your family.

"This master bedroom is a great example of how you can create a getaway for yourself. You can have a sleeping area and a seating area and a place to get away and relax all in one room. I love that you can look at your rooms with that in mind."

Small-Space Smarts

A master of small-space living, Stephen has a few strategies to get the most out of a room.

"I love this project because it's a great example of using the outdoor space as an additional room in the house. When you're living in a small home or apartment, think about using outdoor spaces as an extension of your home."

Showcase Your Personality

Forget all-work-and-no-play kitchens -- Stephen believes every room in your home should showcase your personality. And that includes the kitchen: You can be creative and mix open and closed shelving to avoid outrageous costs, but still get an artistic and stylish result.

"This one is all in the details. The little accessories (artwork, collections, or the way you display bowls of fruit) personalize a space and that's very important to think about. The details are what bring a room to life."

Be Innovative

Your home is the perfect place to be creative. Stephen's hallmark philosophy is that "Good home design has the power to change lives. Simple changes can make all the difference in the space you live in every day."

"I love using home products in an unexpected way -- this coffee mug cabinet was originally a cabinet to hold CDs. I like to help you be creative in your home and to see the potential in looking at things in a different way."

Permission to Repurpose

Stephen freely shuffles furniture from room to room. A new stain or coat of paint usually changes an existing piece of furniture enough to give it a whole new life.

"You don't always have to buy everything brand new. Look at some of the good pieces that you have and see if they deserve a new lease on life by being repurposed into another room."

A Twist on Tradition

A bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom...unless it's designed by Stephen. He likes to take a traditional stale room and think about it in a different way, such as choosing a mirrored cabinet for the vanity.

"Accessorizing the space in a different way is a way to have fun and express your personal style. The mirror isn't the traditional bathroom mirror that overtakes the whole wall. The circular shape makes it interesting to look at."

Take Time to Live

"It's very important to take the time in the midst of our crazy schedules and crazy lives to enjoy the beautiful home you've created for yourself. That's what it's all about: creating a home that's right for you and your family. You feel like you get away from it all and you feel like you can enjoy the moments you've created."

About Stephen

Stephen's keen understanding of the homeowner has moved him into the spotlight in recent years through his work on television and in magazines. This understanding, accompanied by his friendly, approachable, and creative style, is making design accessible to everyone -- no matter who they are, where they are, or what their budget may be.

As a husband, father, and homeowner, he understands the needs of the family-focused lifestyle. "I have the same to-do list on my refrigerator that everyone has. There is always something to be to done with our homes and hopefully what I bring to the table will help everyone see the best in their homes," says the designer. He draws upon his background in film and design to help the homeowner create a home that truly captures who they are, but at the same time captures a mood they are looking to bring to life that represents their home in the right light.

Good home design has the power to change lives.

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