Decorating and Remodeling Tips From a Top Interior Designer

Grant K. Gibson has been designing homes for more than 15 years. Originally from Los Angeles, the 39-year-old designer, who’s now based in San Francisco, takes pride in creating living spaces that speak to the personality, preferences and experiences of his clients. Now, he’s releasing his first book, The Curated Home, which takes readers inside his design process and educates them on how to develop a timeless and curated interior that’ll fulfill their aesthetic tastes for years to come. “It’s not only about practical tips — how to display objects from travels, what to look for when making furniture purchases and the type of paints that work best in a particular room — but also how to think like an interior designer,” Gibson writes in the book’s introduction.

Below, Gibson shares some advice on where to start when tackling design projects. So whether you’re furnishing a new home, updating your kitchen or just want some inspiration to refresh your rental, here are his six top tips for “tweaking your décor.”

A living room designed by interior designer, Grant K. Gibson.

Determine Your Style
How do you want a space to feel? Here’s a trick to help you hone in on your style: take a look at your closet. Do you prefer tailored pieces or do you prefer looser and more comfortable items? Do you gravitate toward certain colors or patterns? Another way to help you determine your style is to think of key words that define how you want a space to feel. Traditional, formal, elegant? Playful, humorous, inviting? Monochromatic, streamlined, modern?

Take note of design inspirations in every facet of life. I often use these as a starting point to discuss with clients when I’m hired to help them design the interiors of their homes. Recall a hotel in which you’ve stayed or restaurant in which you’ve dined that particularly struck your fancy. Perhaps it was a minimal interior from your trip to Japan or a clubby bar in New York furnished with worn leather chairs.

Figure Out What You Don’t Like
It is a lot easier for people to express what they do not like. By putting dislikes into the equation, we can eliminate some things and narrow in on others. For example, a bold large-scale print might remind you of something in your childhood that you do not want to see in your own space. Or a wingback chair might bring back memories of being sent to time-outs for pulling your sister’s hair. Likewise, a certain color might evoke feelings of a past design trend that you aren’t eager to repeat. These memories and reactions are very personal and individual, but also define our tastes.

Build Around Your Space
The Curated Home by Grant K. Gibson.
Space planning, which impacts scale, is essential. People often use furniture that is too large or too small for a space. I like to blame a certain retail company for the large-scale furnishings that saturate interiors today. Build around the furniture that you actually have space for. Think about the balance of a space. For larger rooms, consider establishing zones for different activities: a seating area that is conducive to conversation; another area for television viewing; a work area with a desk or table for projects or games. Even though I love symmetry, you can make things feel too contrived when you make everything symmetrical. Think about the visual weight and distribution to balance out a space. Proportion and scale are key to any design.

Sample Your Paint
Paint selection is one of the most important and cost-effective decisions you can make. Proper paint choices harmoniously connect spaces. Consider the house as a whole. You risk creating disjointed rooms if you paint one room at time. Take into account how colors affect our mood. Some colors make people feel happy, calm or even agitated. I have been known to paint interior doors a bold black for a contrast against crisp white walls.

Sample actual paint colors on your walls when looking at options. Observe them in natural light, morning light and at night. Often a go-to color that worked well for one project will not work for another. What might work at your friend’s home might not work at your home. The chips at the paint store are a helpful starting point, but what looks good on paper might not translate into your interior. With white paints, try a handful of different hues on the wall and pay special attention to the undertones. They can have touches of pinks, blues or yellows. The outside surroundings strongly affect the temperature of the light. The vegetation and the sky can create reflections of greens and blues on your interior walls.

Mix High and Low Price Points
Pedigree doesn’t necessarily mean better (whether it be art, furniture or dogs). Consider an “unknown” artist or designer and buy based on shape, comfort and how the art or furniture works for you and your needs. The most humble objects can have the most soul and be the most beautiful thing in a room. Do not be afraid to mix high and low price points. Not everything must be precious to be important. The opposite can be said with splurging on something that you really love.

Common Application Mistakes at Business Grant Proprosal

While knowing what to do when applying for a grant is critical, knowing what not to do is equally important.

Avoid falling prey to common application mistakes. Nicolas Straut, business grant lead at Fundera, said a seemingly innocent but very common mistake is overapplying. When business owners apply for too many grants at one time, they decrease their chances of getting one due to reduced time and quality spent on each application.

“There is a wide market of business grants available, and you should explore as many you can before selecting one or two you have a high chance of acquiring,” said Straut. “You’re very busy as a small business owner, and it’s essential you use your time tactfully to acquire funding for your business without spreading yourself too thin.”

According to Ebrahimi, many business owners make the mistake of being too general or unoriginal in their proposals. They describe their mission statement in general terms, as opposed to listing specific solutions as to how they can satisfy the funder’s interests.

“Describe how you can meet the funder’s needs in a unique way so your proposal doesn’t read like a cut-and-paste job,” Ebrahimi said. “Additionally, consult your business manager when putting together your grant proposal to make sure your budget is realistic. Grant funders are good at spotting unrealistic budgets.”

Reischer said a common mistake among business owners is not following directions. Grant suppliers are looking for a very specific set of criteria, so following directions is an absolute must.

“If the guidelines say they want two pages, then do not write three,” said Reischer. “If the guidelines give a date for submission, then get the submission in on time. Every detail in a submission must be perfect.”

Key takeaway: Carefully choose the grants you apply for. Make sure all directions are followed when applying. Be sure to avoid being too general or unoriginal in your grant proposal.

After you receive the grant
Occasionally you may find a grant that comes with no strings attached, but this is uncommon. Once you receive a grant, you are accountable for following the guidelines set forth by the grant provider.

“Different grant issuers will have different expectations of grantees, but one thing most funders have in common is that they expect periodic reports from the business owner regarding the progress of the project in question,” said Ebrahimi. “You may well be required to meet performance goals, so be prepared to do so.”

The requirements for maintaining a grant are something you should be aware of ahead of time, although they are usually not too difficult. Once you establish an agreement between the grant funder and yourself, you are ready to move forward with your business or project.

Key takeaway: If you are awarded a grant, it is critical you use the money as you said you would in your proposal. Provider the grant provider with periodic updates on the project’s progress.

How Sales Apps Help Your Business

There are literally millions of apps that your business can use – over 5.5 million apps, to be more specific. Choosing which apps, though, will improve your operations involves thoroughly researching several competing options and understanding what a good app should offer. Save some time with the sales app recommendations below.

Among the reasons why small businesses should use sales apps include:

Faster sales. The sales process is time-consuming, but with sales apps, it doesn’t have to be. Sales apps can, among other functions, expedite data entry, reduce the time spent between sales cold calls, and provide reports on sales activities. The result is more time you can spend on other business needs – or more time to acquire and retain additional customers.

Thorough tracking. Sales apps can track your reps’ performance, your prospects’ interactions with your website and so much more. With this information, analyzing and revising your sales processes becomes far easier.

Better communication. Completing all of the tasks involved in sales can make your team feel as though it has little time left for communication. Sales apps streamline communication so your team needs far less time and far fewer channels to stay on the same page. With a well-aligned team, more sales can happen.

Happier employees. Sales apps can make your employees happier, since they allow them to do their jobs more easily. Further, the remote work functions included in many sales apps meet employees’ increasing desires for flexible work schedules and locations. With sales apps, your team gets both what they need for work and want for their work-life balance.

More sales. Even beyond the above reasons, sales apps are particularly deft at helping your team prevent promising leads from slipping through. Every saved lead is another potential sale that could have been missed without sales apps.

Know More About Types of Sales Apps

Among the many types of sales apps you can buy are:

Customer relationship management (CRM) apps. These apps substantially streamline sales, marketing and customer service work. To learn more about them and find our favorite picks, visit our CRM software reviews page.

Team communication and collaboration apps. These apps facilitate quicker, more organized communication within and across your teams. To find all of our picks for the best team communication apps, view our list of top small business collaboration apps.

Task and project management apps. These apps divide your team’s tasks into projects, with deadlines and individual team member assignments specified as well. To learn more about these apps and see our favorite picks, visit our project management software reviews page.

Note-taking apps. Note-taking apps include platforms for creating and organizing traditional text notes. They also include handwriting recognition apps that convert notes taken by hand on mobile devices into legible text. To learn more about handwriting recognition apps, view our list of the top handwriting recognition apps.

Document management apps. Given the ever-accelerating migration of all work to online spaces, proper digital document management and organization technology becomes increasingly important by the day.
Travel apps. Our list of the top business travel apps can help you simplify so many aspects of running your business while you’re away from the office.

Presentation apps. PowerPoint is far from the only presentation app that assists businesses in delivering presentations both internally and externally. Our list of the top presentation apps explains why you might want one of these apps in addition to PowerPoint.

All About Best CRM Apps Need You Know

Zoho CRM
Summary: Zoho is a CRM software platform with outstanding features such as artificial intelligence, single-click dialing, customer portals and collaboration tools. We named it the best overall CRM for small businesses.

Pricing: Zoho’s prices and subscriptions are as follows, with features increasing by tier:

Free: $0/month
Standard: $14/month
Professional: $23/month
Enterprise: $40/month
Ultimate: $52/month

  1. HubSpot CRM
    Summary: HubSpot is free, if you use it to store fewer than 1 million contacts. Its standout features include quick setup, click-to-call, a user-friendly interface, call recording, and numerous field-leading educational tools and add-on hubs.

Pricing: HubSpot CRM itself is free, but the marketing, CMS, sales and service add-on hubs cost extra. Costs for these add-ons range from $40 to $3,200 per month.

Best team communication and collaboration apps

  1. Slack
    Summary: Slack is a team instant messaging tool great for one-on-one chats, group chats and whole-team chats consistently devoted to predetermined topics. It also includes file storage and video chat tools.

Pricing: Slack is free for an unlimited number of users, though it does have a paid version. For $8 per month, you get add-ons, including but not limited to an unlimited searchable message history, screen sharing and extensive integrations.

  1. Microsoft Teams
    Summary: Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing and team messaging app with screen sharing, file sharing, shared workflows and more. It comes with all Microsoft 365 plans.

Pricing: Since Microsoft Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, it’s free for Microsoft 365 users.

Best task and project management apps

  1. Basecamp
    Summary: Basecamp is a project management tool that you can use to send notifications, create message boards, store files and do plenty more. We’ve outlined Basecamp’s extensive features in our Basecamp review.

Pricing: Basecamp has a free and a paid tier:

Basecamp Personal is free for up to 20 users and 1GB of storage.
Basecamp Business costs $99 a month. It supports unlimited users and comes with 500GB of storage.

  1. Trello
    Summary: Trello is a project management app with extensive customization features. Its features include but aren’t limited to comments and activity, task and user labels, integrations, and visual tracking.

Pricing: Trello has three pricing tiers:

Free: With this option, you get 10 boards per team and 10MB of storage
Business Class: For $9.99 per user per month, you get unlimited boards per team and 250MB of storage
Enterprise: You’ll need to contact Trello for pricing, but the Enterprise plan features include unlimited boards per team, 250 MB of storage, and additional features not available in Business Class
Best note-taking apps

  1. Evernote
    Summary: Evernote is a note-taking and note-creation app that allows for syncing between devices, annotations, presentation mode, and more. Higher-level Evernote tiers include collaboration features.

Pricing: Evernote has three pricing tiers:

Basic: $0/month
Premium: $7.99/month or $69.99/year
Business: $14.99 per user per month for at least two users

  1. Notes Plus
    Summary: Notes Plus’ handwriting recognition app comes with features such as palm rejection, shape recognition and text exporting. You can also set the color and style of your handwriting, so your text appears more familiar to you.

Pricing: Notes Plus costs $9.99 and is a one-time purchase rather than a subscription.