Color Schemes and DIY Dreams


Avid DIYer Mila Moraga-Holz had design sense instilled in her from a young age. Despite growing up in a remote part of South America, she learned the importance of creating beautiful spaces with the tools you are given—a talent and passion she documents through her design-and-lifestyle blog, Jest Café, and in the intricate renovation projects she takes on with her Los Angeles home.

Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like? I grew up in the south of Chile, far away from the rest of the world, but I still felt connected to it by my parents. I was surrounded by nature and love. Growing up, my mother and father filled our home with beautiful things. They designed our house from the ground up, and they decorated it with art, plants, and fun furniture—specifically rustic and vintage items. Our home was carefully curated, which is not an easy thing to do when you live so remotely.

Have you always had a passion for expressing yourself creatively through design? Was this something you discovered at an early age? My mom always asked my opinion when decorating my bedroom, and she supported my crazy ideas, like painting all the walls different colors. I was also very interested in DIY projects and loved doing needlework, but I didn’t know of anybody who did these things for a living, so I didn’t pursue them as a career. My parents were design aficionados, but in their daily lives my mom owned a very successful cordonería, or sewing goods store, and my dad was a lawyer; my world was very, very small.

When did you first start doing your own interior design work? I have tried to bring something special to every room and home I’ve ever lived in, but I started to actively pursue my passion for design in 2015 when I started my blog, where I was inspired by other bloggers to do what I love.

How did you choose a name for your blog? Is there any significance behind it? I wanted a name that wasn’t too serious but that embodied a place where people could gather, be entertained, talk, and have fun. I want my readers to laugh and feel connected to a community.

I took the word “jest” from the book Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which talks about the importance of entertainment in our lives and how the pleasures we choose define who we are. In the end, though, I just liked how the words looked together.

Where or what do you turn to for inspiration for your projects? I subscribe to a lot of design magazines. Architectural Digest Spain is my favorite, but Instagram is another important resource. I have saved many images from these sources that help me come up with new ideas.

What is the first step you take when embarking on a new project for your home? Do you look at each room as a separate element or try to renovate the space more holistically? I start with an object or an image that inspires me, and I move on from there. I definitely keep all the rooms in mind when decorating a space, especially in my home because it is very small—nine hundred square feet—so the flow between rooms is particularly important. I like the door frames to act as windows to the next space, which means that the color palettes have to work together.

It’s easy to see your appreciation of color in your spaces. How do you go about selecting a color scheme? I get inspiration from nature, among other places. Any colors that work well together in nature will work well together in your home. I also pay attention to the shade of colors that I see throughout the day, and I try to use the ones that inspire me in my house. To narrow them down, I take a photo of a palette I like (a flower, for example) and I find matches in Photoshop or the Pantone app to come up with a final color scheme. As much as I like color, I like to keep a room within a palette and I try not to go too crazy with it.

How do you balance the color transition from one room to another? I think the best decision is an informed one. I take my time when choosing a color. First, I look at the possibilities in Photoshop, and then I go to the paint store to get a lot of sample patches that I stick to the wall. I live with them on the wall for days until I can narrow down the choices to three. I buy paint samples of those choices to paint large patches on the wall, and, again, I live with them for a few days. I pay attention to how the colors change throughout the day until I am sure which one is the right one.

How do you decide what furniture to incorporate into each room? My first thought when looking for furniture is the price. I have a budget, and the furniture I choose has to be within that budget. My next considerations are color and shape. I like statement furniture that is different, but my husband cares more about comfort, so I need to keep that in mind, too.

Tell us a bit about your most recent home project and your thought processes behind it: My most recent renovation was my kitchen, which I did when I was eight months pregnant. That room started with a color: berry. I knew I wanted the kitchen cabinets to be painted in a fun hue, and I ended up using a color inspired by Farrow & Ball’s Radicchio. After that, everything else followed. Creating a room—deciding on shapes, textures, colors, lighting, and tiles—is a wonderful process that I love. Seeing it all come together is so exciting! It gives me life. I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.

What is most challenging about embarking on a new DIY or renovation project? The most challenging aspect is envisioning the end product. I am good at seeing the big picture, but mistakes happen, and sometimes I need to take detours. A good quality I have is that I make fast decisions and don’t dwell in self-doubt too much. Plus, when you have a small budget, there is not much room for different options or for making mistakes.

Why are plants and flowers important to you, and how do you feel they contribute to the look of a space? Plants were a major decoration item in my home when I was growing up, so I naturally incorporate them into my home as an adult. They warm up a room and make it come alive.

Did you conceptualize and paint the murals, like the ones in your kitchen and living room, yourself? How did you create them? The mural in my living room was inspired by a textile by Roberto Burle Marx, and I created the mural in the kitchen with Adobe Sketch.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up? I am working on an affordable and colorful home goods line. It’s taking a while to get it off the ground because I have three boys and designing is not my full-time job, but it will happen soon.

Start the Year Fresh with Feng Shui

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Taking Your Decor from Summer to Fall

With summer on the outs, it’s time to think about switching up your decor in time for fall. Colors are shifting, leaves are falling, and the weather is turning. Take inspiration from the great indoors and switch-up that interior!

Make easy switches

Accents like throw pillows, sheets, and blankets are great ways to add autumnal colors into your home. Warmer colors like shades of red and orange are ideal, and can really bring that fall touch into your living space.

Use this as an excuse to clean

Spring cleaning doesn’t mean that a giant declutter project only happens in the spring. While you’re in the middle of taking down the old and putting up the new, clean your space as well. Dust off the mantle, sweep the floors, and ensure that you have a blank canvas going into this interior switch-up.

Fragrant fall touches

Few things take us to a new season quite like certain smells. Candles like ground cinnamon, chai, sandalwood, pecan pie, and of course, pumpkin spice, are scentsational additions to any home!

Consider adding lighting

The days are slowly, but surely, getting shorter, meaning you may want to think about putting additional lighting around your home. Even something as simple as tea lights or small lanterns could make a big difference when the sun sets.

Take inspiration from nature

Fall foliage is one of nature’s finest gifts, so why not put it to use? Get crafty and save money all at the same time. Clay leaf plates and a foliage garland are great ideas to get you started. Take a stab at this fall bucket list for even more inspiration to bring into your home.

A Baltimore Design Odyssey

Laura Hodges is a Baltimore-based interior designer whose worldwide travels and passion for design from an early age have given her a keen eye, making her projects truly tailored to the client. Laura discusses her signature aesthetic, the importance of practicing sustainability, and what has impacted her work the most.

Where does your love for design stem from, and how did you break into the business?
My family traveled a lot when I was growing up, so I was exposed to many styles of architecture and design, which expanded as I began traveling on my own as a young adult. I earned my interior design degree from the New York School of Interior Design and worked with distinguished designers such as Jamie Drake and Thomas Jayne after graduating, before starting my own firm in 2016.

You define your aesthetic as clean and classic. How do you incorporate this aesthetic into your various projects?
As much as I love seeing new trends and design styles, I always take my cues from classical architecture and design. I lean more toward a modern take on traditional shapes with an emphasis on contrast and form.

living room design

© Jennifer Hughes

What is your process like as you approach each project?
I always start with an in-depth discussion with my clients to find out not only their practical and functional needs for the space but also how they want to feel in their home and what would bring them joy and a sense of calm. From there, I look to their art collection (if they have one), travels, and interests, as well as my own intuitive take on their design style, to find inspiration for their project.

Where do you find the balance between functionality and style?
Luckily, we’re in an age when style and functionality do not need to be mutually exclusive anymore. We have access to so many beautiful fabrics and materials that are specifically designed to last. The primary function always comes first, but we consider both at the same time and happily have to make few compromises.

What’s your favorite piece in your own home?
I found a beautiful, handmade Italian Savonarola chair from the early 1900s at an estate sale, and it has remained my favorite piece.

You’ve traveled to many places in your life. How have your travels impacted your work?
I absolutely love traveling and never want to regret not having made the effort to visit historically significant or naturally beautiful places. My travels inform me every day—whether it’s the colors, culture, and style of another country or simply understanding how historically important architecture feels in person. I grew up traveling to France and England with my family, which formed my love for classical architecture. I later traveled to countries like Peru, Thailand, and Morocco, and they really opened my eyes to more extensive design styles and cultural influences.

living room with white sofa

© Jennifer Hughes

You recently opened your own boutique home-decor shop, Domain. How did that come to be?
It’s been a longtime dream of mine to have my own home-decor shop. My husband and I had the opportunity
to purchase a property in the historic district of Catonsville, Maryland, in 2017, and we were excited to explore the possibilities.

How do you balance heading Domain with your design responsibilities?
Since the shop is in the front of our design studio, I’m able to physically be in touch with the day-to-day responsibilities while leading our design projects. I love sourcing locally for the shop and incorporating design finds from our projects. The two businesses definitely feed off each other.

Sustainability is a big part of your mission. How do you go about achieving this?
I always start my sourcing of furniture and fabrics from companies with sustainable manufacturing practices and a commitment to fair trade. We also help our clients find a new home for their unwanted furnishings and commit to donating salvageable building materials from our projects.

Tell us more about the Patapsco residence you designed:
The Patapsco project is in Catonsville, near Patapsco Valley State Park. The park was a big inspiration for the general color scheme and feel of the space. The main living space is very bright and airy, with beautiful views of the park, so I used a very light ivory color on the walls to draw focus to the view. This property was the model home of a newly built neighborhood, so it was important to bring a sense of character to the home and inject the clients’ personality as much as possible. I pulled the color palette from the breakfast room rug, which was one of the first design choices I made. Once the color palette was established, I chose modern sculptural pieces that would have a significant presence in this open space. Creating more intimate gathering areas that felt more welcoming was important to me.

The clients have a very fun and quirky sense of style that I loved incorporating into the design. They love birds and other animals, so the palette for the fabrics and rugs is upbeat and colorful with a sense of humor. I wanted each element to feel as personalized as possible.

coffee table decor

© Jennifer Hughes

Describe your favorite design elements in this project:
The red cabinet with the round wood mirror in the entry is one of my favorite parts about this project. The vignette feels so striking yet inviting when you enter the home, and it instantly gives you a sense of the homeowners’ taste.
The breakfast room is a warm and bright space off the kitchen that originally was of little use to the homeowners. I brought in an oversized daybed full of comfortable plush pillows and nesting tables, as well as a colorful rug, to create a cozy reading nook that’s now one of their favorite places in the home.

As an homage to their love of birds, the dining room has an oversized art installation of watercolor paintings on silk that makes a dramatic statement in this open-concept space. Sitting in front of these paintings are a beautiful, handmade dining table and bench from a local woodworker.

In the family room, the navy Chesterfield sofa anchors the large space, defining the room and creating more intimacy. A round wood coffee table brings in more natural textures and visual interest. The black-and-white photograph above the mantel and brightly colored chartreuse chevron lumbar pillows are perfect examples of their quirky style.

Who in your life has been most influential to you?
My grandmother and mother were big influences on me. They were both amazing mothers and wives, while also pursuing their own interests and education, which included art, travel, and all kinds of crafts.

How do you define success in this industry?
My own definition of success is based simply on being able to do what I love for my clients and for them to be happy with our service and projects.

When do you feel most creative? How do you overcome times when the creativity is harder to come by?
I feel most creative when I’m able to travel and visit new cities and meet creative people. I love going to High Point, North Carolina, twice a year for the furniture market. We find great pieces to create and design with there. When I feel uninspired, I usually find ways to spark interest by visiting an art museum, a design shop, or a maker’s space.

What is your favorite part about designing a space?
My favorite part is creating a space that is beautiful and functional but still speaks to my clients’ aesthetics
and makes them feel good in their own home.

Creating an at Home Library

People who love books often use them as an escape. Books take you to faraway places and different time periods. Why not create an area devoted to burying yourself deep in a book? If you have too many books to count, consider creating an at home library.  

People who can benefit from an at home library  

Book Lovers 

This is an obvious point, but if you love books, maybe even just the smell of old books and the charm of having them on shelves, then an at home library is for you. 


If you have rare, collectible items you’ve always wanted to display, this is your chance to shine. Rare books, antiques, and everything in between would make a perfect aesthetic for a library space.  

People who like to cozy up  

Creating a personal library space can be used for more than just reading. If you love to get cozy with a blanket and chair, your naps and movies can have their own secluded space too.  

Where your home library should be located  

Adequate wall space  

The key to any successful at home library is storage. Installing shelving will require a room with clear, usable walls.  


A nice touch to a library is having windows to let in natural light and views of the outdoors. However, if you’d prefer a darker, more secluded space, use a room with no windows or invest in black out curtains. 

Share with an office space  

Many don’t have an entire room to dedicate to an at home library, so if this is the case for you, consider sharing the space with your home office.  

What to include in your home library 


Style and amount of seating is a personal preference. Whether you’re looking to accommodate a few friends or want a solo space, make sure the seating is comfortable. If it’s not comfortable, you won’t be able to relax, and you’ll end up relocating. Consider getting a recliner so you can really kick back. 


Setting the tone of the room is all in the lighting. Creating an inviting space will need accent and ambient lights. To create a warm, cozy atmosphere pick incandescent bulbs. LED lights are great, but they tend to have a colder feel to them. Use floor and table lamps directly over your seating area to have well-lit areas to read.  

Color Schemes 

If you’re looking for a traditional look, make the shelves a dark stain and have leather seating. For a modern feel, paint the shelving a white or off-white color and have furniture with your favorite accent color.  


Your style will determine how you decorate your library. Infuse your personality into the library with pictures, artwork, collections, and anything else you want to display. This is a space to call your own and you deserve to love what is around you in the room.  


The important part of storage will be shelving. There are different styles of shelving, including free–standing, floating, and built–in. Choose according to budget and style. If you’re indecisive about layout, go with free–standing shelving you’ll be able to rearrange. If you have your heart set on a layout and style, choose built–in.  

Aside from your personal aesthetic, at home libraries should all function to give you an at home oasis to escape and have time to pursue your interests. Get started with these tips—your dream library awaits! 

$100 Home Makeover in Under 10 Minutes

Remodeling a room can feel like the ultimate test of patience and financial savvy, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune (or months of your time) to make any space feel like new. Put some of these tips into practice, and see for yourself!


Reduced-price redecorating

Places like the dollar store and discount retailers are gold mines for inexpensive pieces you can use to upgrade your space. Think throw pillows, rugs, picture frames, and faux plants and flowers, which breathe life into a dull space without the expense.

A touch of paint

The best thing about paint is that it’s relatively inexpensive and a little goes a long way. Just one gallon of paint is enough to repaint a bathroom or other small space, and it can even be used to give cabinets, shelves, hardware, and other surfaces, new life.

From wall to wall

Wall decor can make a huge difference when it comes to the look and style of a room, and if you already have perfectly usable picture frames, something as simple as a quick coat of paint in a bright color can tie your room together.

All about the accents

Does your room have large windows? Make sure you opt for light, breezy curtains to maximize the natural light. Is your coffee table the most beloved piece of furniture you own? Don’t tuck it away behind a table runner or large centerpiece—let the best parts of the room speak for themselves.


10-minute tips

  • Declutter—ridding a space of built up, unnecessary items can make it look like new in no time!
  • Rearrange items in your space to avoid monotony and help you feel refreshed.
  • Add bits of greenery (via flowers or plants) to breathe life into your space.
  • Break out the duster, and watch as your room is instantly brighter!

Vintage Home Decor Trends

In with the new? More like in with the old, at least, according to trends popping up in the interior design world. Vintage is making a comeback in homes nationwide, so why not incorporate some of these old-school elements into your space, as well? From fabric choices to color palettes, broaden your horizon with these trending interior options.

Bring on the velvet

There’s a luxurious quality in adding velvet touches to your home that other fabrics just don’t achieve. A sofa or a love seat could help bring velvet into your space, but if the splurge on a piece of furniture isn’t in your budget, consider throw pillows, poufs, or even curtains for a dramatic look.

Light it up

Do you have artwork you want to show off? Is your gallery wall not getting enough light to truly bring out the quality of the pieces? Think about putting light fixtures on the wall to enhance the artwork you have. While this used to be considered a dated effect, it’s something that many homeowners are bringing back to distribute light to decor that isn’t being put on display properly.

Accessorize with antiques

If your grandparents’ vintage luggage is sitting in the attic collecting dust, think about turning those timeless pieces into functional accessories instead. Repurpose to use for a coffee table, a bedside table, or even get crafty and turn a suitcase into a bar cart. Accessorize using other antiques that you or other family members may have lying around, and watch as your home transforms into a truly unique space.

Bold is the move

Neutrals—specifically all-white kitchens, muted living rooms, and earth-toned bathrooms—have been all the rage for the past few years, but color is finally having its time in the spotlight. Color schemes, reminiscent of the ‘40s and ‘50s, are making a comeback, and are great for really making your interior pop. Don’t be afraid to breathe more life into your home via bright- colored paint or patterned wallpaper.

Consider these vintage home trends to add more personality to your interior while paying homage to some iconic eras.

The Interior Design Apps We Can’t Live Without

People are making DIY improvements to their homes in increasing numbers. Television shows and blogs have helped homeowners feel a sense of renewed confidence in tackling everything, from replacing tile to full demos, on their own.

But one of the best sources of interior design inspiration are apps—that’s right, the convenient little programs on your computer, phone, or tablet—that can help you plan out your rooms and bring your vision to life.


This website/app is valuable for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a place for professional designers and DIY-ers to meet and share ideas. Not only can you search for a professional in your area and read reviews on their work, you can look at their portfolio to inspire your own projects if you want to go it on your own. There is also a tool that allows you to place virtual products into an image of your space to see how it looks before you buy!


Determining how to arrange the items in your rooms and what fits where can be challenging. This app allows you to scan rooms in your home to create digital floor plans, which can make planning your renovation a lot easier. The app can also generate 3D models of your floor plans for you to be able to visualize your space even more realistically.


If you have a hard time picturing new furniture or colors in your room, this app can help you out. All you have to do is upload an image of the room, and it allows you to add and remove items that you want. Looking for a new bed? Simple swap out the old and browse through the app’s collection of products to preview in the room. You can even buy items straight from the app!


If you’re still unsure of whether or not your home renovation will require a professional, this app can help you decide before you get yourself in over your head. It allows you to post the project you’re working on to the app, and browse for local contractors based on reviews and qualifications.

iHandy Carpenter

For simple fixes, like making sure that picture frame is straight, there’s no better tool than iHandy. It includes tools like a bubble level and a steel ruler to help you avoid crooked decor and to complete projects with a professional look.

For more home decorating tips and ideas, visit